Cost of Intercity Trips by Train and Bus

Cost of Intercity Trips by Train and Bus

Amtrak collected an average of 23 per revenue passenger-mile in 2003 (in chained 2000 dollars1), up 46 percent from 16 per revenue passenger-mile in 1993 (figure 7-3). During the 1990s, Amtrak shifted its focus to urban routes in the Northeast and West. When Amtrak reduced its number of route-miles by 3 percent in 1995, revenue per passenger-mile increased by 3 percent the following year. When track operational length was further reduced by 7 percent in 1999, revenue per passenger-mile increased 4 percent the following year [1]. Today, Northeast Corridor trains serve 13 million riders annually, representing about 60 percent of Amtrak's ticket revenues [2].

Average intercity Class I bus fares rose 23 percent, from $23 to $28 (in chained 2000 dollars), between 1992 and 20022 (figure 7-4). The average bus fare is based on total intercity passenger revenues and the number of intercity bus passenger trips. Because passenger-mile data are not reported, average bus fare per passenger-mile cannot be calculated and compared with similar Amtrak fare data.


1. Association of American Railroads, Railroad Facts (Washington, DC: 1994-2004 issues).

2. National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak), Amtrak Strategic Reform Initiatives and FY 06 Grant Request (Washington, DC: 2005).

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. To eliminate the effects of inflation over time, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics converted current dollars (which are available in appendix B of this report) to chained 2000 dollars.

2 Intercity bus data through 2002 were reported by carriers to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. These data are now reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and data beyond 2002 were not available at the time this report was prepared.