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Orange County Digest

Countywide : Ridership Up on Amtrak L.A.-San Diego Line

February 14, 1986|Marcida Dodson

Increasing numbers of commuters are taking Amtrak's Los Angeles-San Diego line to beat the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Santa Ana Freeway and to take advantage of rate and accommodation enticements, an Amtrak spokesman said.

Ridership along the line in the last three months of 1985 increased by 17.5% over the same period in 1984, spokesman Art Lloyd said. More than 302,000 people took the train during those three months, with more than 217,000 of them boarding at Orange County's four stations, he said.

Preliminary figures for January show a continued 17.5% increase over ridership a year ago, he said.

Ever-increasing traffic on Interstate 5 is one reason for the increased patronage, Lloyd said.

"It's becoming so much faster for people to go (in the train) at speeds of 90 m.p.h., even with stops along the way. It's still better than getting stuck on the I-5," he said.

In addition, Amtrak believes that new fares and "custom class" service--which offers reserved seats, a beverage and a newspaper in one car for $4 extra--have lured more passengers, Lloyd said. Further, Caltrans has added bus service from Long Beach and Seal Beach to the Santa Ana station, he said.

The Los Angeles-San Diego line is Amtrak's second busiest line. The busiest, the "northeast corridor" from Boston to Washington, had a 12% increase in ridership in 1985's last quarter. Nationwide, Amtrak recorded an average 5% to 7% year-to-year increase for the last quarter of 1985, Lloyd said.

The new figures are a boost to Amtrak at a time when the rail service must argue against President Reagan's proposal to cut off subsidies. Last year, Amtrak was subsidized with $617 million. Congress will soon take up Reagan's budget proposals.

"We're carrying more passengers all the time, despite Mr. Reagan," Lloyd said.

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