Amtrak Ridership in Washington

Glenn Thacker climbs aboard the westbound evening train Sept. 30 heading toward Kansas City. Thacker said he rides the train often as he commutes between his family in Kansas City and his job in Washington. 

As expected, Amtrak ridership in Missouri has jumped since the Missouri River Runner line returned to full service after being limited during the pandemic.

In July, the train line, which runs between St. Louis and Kansas City, returned to its normal service, bringing the number of passenger trains coming through Washington Station back to two round-trip trains a day and the total of daily stops made at the station back to four.

Those stops occur at 9:21 a.m. and 5:06 p.m. as the train travels from St. Louis to Kansas City and at 12:38 p.m. and 8:18 p.m. as the train travels from Kansas City to St. Louis.

In July, the Missouri River Runner line saw 11,693 riders, and in August, it saw 10,390, according to Marc Magliari, spokesperson for Amtrak. That compares with 7,024 riders in May and 6,989 in June when the train only made one round trip per day.

From January to August, the most recent month for which numbers are available, the train line saw 54,064 riders.

“Talking to communities, everyone is really happy the rails are back to full service,” Magliari said. He said he was not able to provide a breakdown of passenger counts for the Washington station and nearby Hermann or Kirkwood. 

The train’s capacity varies based on Amtrak’s needs, but as of Friday, the Missouri River Runner had 14 business class seats and 184 coach seats.

Amtrak has been a boon for regional tourism in Washington, said Emily Underdown, tourism director for the Washington Chamber of Commerce.

“Since having the four stops, we’ve definitely seen an uptick in tourism,” she said. “The fact that people can take it, see the Missouri River out the window, and it has many stops makes it really convenient for tourists.”

These tourists often come to Washington, enjoy the riverfront, see sights such as the historic Missouri Meerschaum corn cob pipe factory and eat and drink at local restaurants and bars.

“Having that in town is a huge benefit to Washington and our tourism,” Underdown said.

Amtrak is also a big boost for Washington’s many events. Underdown said that during the weekends of the Washington Town & Country Fair and the Fall Festival of the Arts & Crafts, there was an uptick in ridership on Amtrak, presumably from people coming to the events.

The service is convenient, too, according to Andre Lynn, who was boarding the 12:38 p.m. train at Washington Station Wednesday to go to St. Louis, where he plans to take Amtrak to Little Rock, Arkansas.

Lynn, who is from Arkansas originally, is a truck driver. He said his work brought him to Union, but he’s decided to quit his job. He used Amtrak to return to Arkansas, where he hopes to find new work, as he much prefers the train over a bus.

“I could take the Greyhound, but I just don’t want to get on one of those,” he said. “And I found out the train station was nearby, so I decided to take that. Then I found out it’s a little less expensive, too.”

Lynn said it’s a lot safer to take the train, too. As a truck driver, he sees how many accidents happen on the roads. “I feel like every state should have a good commuter train.” 

Vivian Hoofman runs the visitors center at Washington Station and said “ridership is definitely up” since full service returned.

“It’s mostly tourists, people coming into town to see what Washington is about,” she said. “And they love it.”