Amtrak ridership increased 18 percent, between fiscal years 1994 and 2004, from 21.2 million riders to 25.1 million riders [1, 4]. The number of riders in fiscal year 2004, about 68,800 per day on average, was the largest ever on the Amtrak system .
In numbers of passengers boarded, the top five Amtrak stations in fiscal year 2004 were New York; Washington, DC; Philadelphia; Chicago; and Newark. Almost 40 percent of all passengers boarded at these stations. Over 79 percent of ridership volume is accounted for by Amtrak's top 50 stations  (figure 1-8).
Amtrak ridership is heavily concentrated in the Northeast Corridor from Washington, DC, to Boston and to a lesser extent, along the Pacific coast. Among Amtrak's top 50 stations, 19 are located in areas served by Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service.1 Almost 13.0 million passengers boarded trains at these stations, accounting for almost 52 percent of the entire system's passenger volume in fiscal year 2004. Twenty-one of Amtrak's top 50 stations are located along the Pacific coast. These 21 stations accounted for nearly 18 percent of Amtrak's ridership in fiscal year 2004. The remaining 10 top 50 stations are in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Nationally, Amtrak operates 523 rail stations serving 46 states [2, 3]. Of these, 74 are owned by Amtrak, 204 are privately owned, and 245 are owned by a public entity . According to an analysis by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Amtrak is accessible to about 35 million rural residents (42 percent of all rural residents). For approximately 300,000 rural residents, Amtrak is the only public intercity transportation available .2
1. Amtrak, Amtrak Annual Report, Statistical Appendix (Washington, DC: 2002).
2. ______. Amtrak Facts, available at http://www.amtrak.com/, as of May 2005.
3. ______. Amtrak Strategic Plan: FY 2005-2009 (Washington, DC: June 29, 2004).
4. ______. Annual Report to Congress, Feb. 17, 2005, available at http://www.amtrak.com/, as of May 2005.
5. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Scheduled Intercity Transportation: Rural Service Areas in the United States, available at http://www.bts.gov/, as of March 2005.
1 For purposes of this report, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) service includes the Boston-Washington mainline plus the Springfield, MA-New Haven, CT and Harrisburg, PA-Philadelphia, PA branch lines. In recent years, Amtrak's former Northeast Corridor Strategic Business Unit also considered the Boston, MA-Portland, ME; New York, NY-Niagara Falls, NY; and Washington, DC-Newport News, VA routes to be part of the NEC.
2 See, "Scheduled Intercity Transportation in Rural America" in section 4 (Variables Influencing Traveling Behavior).