DESCRIPTION: Government-subsidized company in Washington that operates virtually all American intercity passenger trains. RIDERSHIP (FISCAL YEAR ENDED SEPT. 30, 1979): 21.4 million passengers. PASSENGER MILES: 4.98 billion. DIVIDENDS TO STOCKHOLDERS (RAILROADS): none. FOUNDED: 1971, as successor to most private rail passenger operations in service at the time. TOP EXECUTIVES: Alan Boyd, president; Harry T. Edwards, chairman of the board.
For Amtrak, 1979 was a year of controversy, change and a major turning point as Congress eliminated five weaker routes, provided significant funding for the purchase of new passenger cars and launched a study of potential new rail corridors throughout the United States. Amtrak experienced a surge in ridership with the spot gasoline shortages and rising prices that beset the nation and had its stongest ridership year in its eight-year history. The first new bi-level, long distance passenger cars built in decades, the Superliners, went into service on the Western train as Amtrak continued the transition from steam to electric equipment. The year ahead is expected to show a growing support by the public and Congress for improved rail service and new funding for emerging rail corridors.Amtrak will continue to place more Superliner cars in service in the West and will be placing orders for up to 200 new long distance cars designated for service on Eastern trains. New trains also will go into service this year on a joint funding basis with numerous states as interest in and commitment to rail service continues to reflect changing transportation trends.