(WASHINGTON) -- While the state of the nation's rails has long been criticized as outdated when compared to its high-speed counterparts abroad, the ridership numbers at Amtrak show record growth.
Nearly 30.2 million people rode the rails in Fiscal Year 2011 that closed out Sept. 30—marking the highest ridership total since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation began operations in 1971.
Amtrak brought in $1.9 billion in ticket revenue this year—up more than 8 percent from the previous year.
“Thirty million passengers is not just a statistic. That number is made up of real people who live real lives and use Amtrak for personal, business and recreational travel,” said Emmett Fremaux, the head of the Amtrak Marketing and Product Development Department.
Some factors that contributed to Amtrak’s growing ridership were high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on the high-speed Acela Express trains that offer free Wi-Fi service, and the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel and effective marketing campaigns.
These gains came amid service disruptions due to hurricanes, tropical storms and record snows in the busy Northeast Corridor, record flooding in the Central U.S. and heavy construction on the Chicago-St. Louis route.
Amtrak ridership has increased nearly 44 percent since 2000.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio