Train ridership in Ohio is up 19% from 2003 to 2014, making it the 37th fastest growing state in the country. The state has seven train stations as of now, down from 11 in 2003. So the state’s ridership has gone up substantially despite the fact that four stations have closed.
Ohio is served by three Amtrak trains, all of them long-distance interstate routes. Two of the trains run east-west along the northern part of the state: The Lake Shore Limited, which runs daily between Chicago and New York/Boston, and the Capitol Limited, which runs daily between Chicago and Washington. In the southern part of the state, Cincinnati is served by the Cardinal, which runs three times per week between Chicago and New York. This pie chart shows us the relative passenger volumes at each station.
Toledo is the busiest station in the state, serving about 41% of the state’s passengers in 2014. Toledo is a big city in its own right, but it is also the transfer point for Amtrak’s connecting bus to Detroit. Cleveland is next, with 32% of the state’s passengers, followed by Cincinnati (9%), and Sandusky (6%). Comprising the “other” category are: Elyria (4%), Bryan (4%) and Alliance (3%).
This line graph shows us the station-by-station trends over time.
As in other states, the fastest-growing stations have recently tended to be the quieter ones. The fastest-growing station in Ohio is Sandusky, which has seen huge growth of 210%, rising to 9,840 passengers in 2014, up from 3,171 in 2003. Elyria is next, rising 113% over the time period, to 6,721 passengers in 2014, from 3,155 in 2003. Alliance grew 80%, to 4,691 passengers in 2014 from 2,601 in 2003, and Bryan grew 43%, to 6,597 passengers in 2014 from 4,620 in 2003. The state’s three busiest stations all grew as well: Cleveland is up 29%, Toldeo up 21%, and Cincinnati is up 15%.
None of the stations that are currently active recorded declines. Of course for the four that closed all declined by 100%. Those were Akron, Youngstown, and Fostoria, which all closed on March 7, 2005, when Amtrak discontinued the Three Rivers. And Amtrak ended Cardinal service to Hamilton on October 31, 2005.
This stacked column graph shows how the state’s ridership has grown 19% despite the closure of those four stations.
Finally, this is a good chance for us to take a look at the Lake Shore Limited, where average monthly ridership is up 28% from December 2003 to June 2015.
Having traveled to Ohio numerous times, mostly to Cleveland but also to Toledo and Cincinnati, I can say that it is a very enjoyable experience. Cincinnati’s Union Terminal rivals New York’s Grand Central Terminal in terms of architectural beauty, but with fewer trains, it’s less celebrated. Toledo’s station is beautiful too.