Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Amtrak will debut new cars, as COVID-era ridership rebounds

A blue and silver Amtrak locomotive with cars in tow chugs by near a road and a set of tall signals, with leafy trees and houses in the background
Rebecca Thiele
An Amtrak train in Comstock in 2015

The railroad says the numbers still aren't back to normal, but they're much better than in the early days of the pandemic.

Travel on Amtrak trains in Michigan has increased significantly since the height of the pandemic, but numbers are not yet up to pre-COVID times.

The number of passengers on the railroad hit at an all-time low in March 2020, according to Amtrak Public Relations Manager Marc Magliari.

“Ridership dropped like a rock and we wound up reducing the amount of trains running in Michigan because of that. Ridership at one point was down 95 percent,” he said.

Magliari said Amtrak expects to reach 70 percent of its pre-pandemic rider numbers this year, but the rate probably won’t return to normal until 2023.

Rail cars for Amtrak’s Michigan service are getting an upgrade in 2022, Magliari added.

“We’ve taken delivery of these cars, made in the USA, with wider aisles, better lighting, better wi-fi and much more accessible for people traveling with disabilities,” he said.

The New rail cars will also hold three bicycles per coach.