Gas prices turn travelers to trains

June 23, 2008 6:41:15 PM PDT
Whatever the reason rising pump prices have more and more travelers ditching their cars and taking the train.

Nationwide, Amtrak executives say ridership is climbing to an all-time high.

Two of Amtrak trains the Southbound Palmetto and Northbound Silver Meteor pass through the station in downtown Fayetteville, traveling between New York and Florida. A growing number of travelers say trains are a better bargain, if you have the time.

14-year-old Tyler Roberts is on a summer adventure, he and his grandmother are taking the train to South Carolina.

"Well it's my first time, so I'm not really sure what to expect yet, but I guess just being able to ride through the countryside," Roberts said.

Layama Bryant is taking the train too, because she says it cheaper than driving her SUV to Savannah Georgia.

"$48 for the train, and $4 a gallon, on Friday in Savannah my mother told me it was $4.02," Bryant said.

Record prices for gas and jet fuel are expected to drive more than 27 million people to hop a ride on Amtrak this year, the most ever --for some cheaper than driving, for others more convenient than flying.

"More passengers are starting to take the train, as opposed to flying because they don't have to deal with all security aspects with all the long delays," said Albert Smith with Amtrak.

Monday, a train was over two hours late pulling into Fayetteville. Reliability and delays remain a big problem.

"I'm used to this; the train is always late so it's a normal thing. It would have been shocking if I got here and it was on time," Passenger, Alfreda Humphrey said.

P

art of the problem Amtrak officials say is that on long runs it has to share tracks with CSX freight trains.

Inconveniences that travelers like Mike and Georgina Maldonado say they can live with for the price.

"It's too expensive to drive a car now a days, I mean, its $4.35 a gallon," Mike said.

Amtrak officials say before they can add more trains to the tracks, Congress will need to allocate more funding.

And already a lot of travelers are finding more and more trains sold out.


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