This is nonsense, though. The Lake Shore Limited is a meaningful and competitive offering in its market. This is indisputable. But it gets hit with service quality cuts.
Meanwhile, massive amounts of money go into keeping the Sunset Limited, which is clearly neither meaningful nor competitive in its current form -- and can't even seem to get the support of the representatives of the districts it goes through -- alive.
Clearly management has NOT been prioritizing investment in services which are a meaningful and competitive offering in their market. I'd like it if they did. Any competent business analysis would pinpoint the Chicago Hub-NEC services as a crucial network-building element which should be enhanced ASAP. We should stop calling them by the misleading names of "long-distance trains" and "national network trains". They are the Midwest-Northeast connecting services. There are occasional hints of investment, but they are not recognized for their crucial role.
You can make a borderline argument for the LSL/Florida trains, since they run through relatively consistent population centers. I would say that given adequate investment they could be a meaningful option. As it is they are of limited value, perhaps a regional jet's worth of passengers for most city pairs.
Actually I suppose you could make a semi wild guess--per the NARP the LSL served 44,000 people at Buffalo in 2017. The third highest ridership pair on the train was BUF-CHI, so say a significant plurality of that 44,000 went to CHI, maybe 15,000. If each one is a single boarding or alighting then the actual number of people who used the train was 7,500, or slightly more than 20 daily. Per the DOT, there were 637 people flying on the route daily in Q3 2017--is that each way or total? Not sure. But clearly Amtrak's effect in the market is negligible. Even if I am misinterpreting the data *both* ways and 40 people are taking the train each way daily and 315 flying each way daily, it's only barely better than negligible at 11% of the market. And that doesn't even include bus/personal vehicle travel.
Edit: Using BTS data, there were about 880 passengers flying between Buffalo and ORD+MDW daily in 2017 total.
Ironically, the LSL's highest ridership pair is ALB-NYP; those travelers would be better served if it was eliminated completely and replaced with an Empire Service frequency that reliably departed ALB on time east/southbound.
Edited by keelhauled, 11 March 2018 - 06:54 PM.