SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — More Illinoisans are letting someone else do the driving.
WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports Amtrak provides service from Chicago to St. Louis, and several college towns in Illinois, including Champaign-Urbana, Carbondale, Bloomington-Normal, and Macomb – and those rides have proven popular.
“Chicago-Carbondale is an all-time high. Chicago-St Louis is an all-time high,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. “In large part, that’s because driving is just so miserable. Whether it’s the cost of fuel, or the cost of tolls, or the cost of parking; a lot of people are looking for better options, and in lots of parts of Illinois, Amtrak’s a much better option than driving.”
The Amtrak fiscal year ended Sept. 30 with a record 31.6 million riders nationwide. Illinois saw 5.18 million passengers.
Chicago, Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, and Carbondale were the busiest stations for Amtrak in Illinois in the past year.
The Lincoln Service between Chicago and St Louis saw a 10 percent jump in passenger count, for the largest increase for any route in Illinois. It also saw a 22 percent jump in revenue.
Magliari said, not only did the fare increase, but more people seem to be waiting until the last minute to buy tickets.
“As usual, on any mode of transportation nowadays, the last few seats to sell are always at the highest price,” Magliari said. “That’s an indication that the trains are often getting sold out, or close to sold out, and people are buying the last few tickets when they can, and they’re paying a higher price than folks who bought early.”