State of U.S. Passenger Rail – South Carolina

South Carolina’s Amtrak ridership is up 32% over the past 12 years, making it the 26th fastest growing state in the country — right in the middle of the pack. The state has 11 train stations spread out fairly evenly throughout the state. In fact, it probably has one of the most even geographic distributions of any state in the country. The stations are served by four train routes: The Crescent, which runs southwest/northeast across the northwest part of the state, the Palmetto and Silver Meteor, which share a coastal route via Charleston, and the Silver Star across the middle of the state, through Columbia. Let’s look at some of the ridership trends affecting the state.

As we see in this chart, Charleston is the busiest station in the state, followed by Florence and Columbia. Together, they account for about two thirds of the state’s passengers.

This line graph shows us the growth rates of the various stations. The fastest growing station in the state is sleepy Dillon, which rose 146% from 3,494 passengers in 2003 to 8,601 in 2014. Charleston grew 25%, Florence, 59%, and Columbia, 39%.

Finally, this stacked column graph gives us the annual totals for the whole state.

Since South Carolina is one of the states where the Silver Star and Silver Meteor take two different routes, it’s worth taking a look at the ridership on those two routes. Here it is:

Ridership on both routes was on a long-term uptrend through 2012, and has since slackened a bit. The Silver Star, which is the faster of the two routes, tends to be slightly more popular than the Silver Meteor. Yet, if you want my opinion, either one is a fine train to take.

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