ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Business on Amtrak in Missouri and Illinois has been booming. Folks are parking their cars, skipping the airport and taking the train. More people are boarding the train in St. Louis and going north to Chicago or west to Kansas City than ever before.
Marc Magliari is a spokesman for Amtrak, "Ridership has more than doubled because there are more opportunities for people to arrive, more opportunities for people to go back and forth the same day."
Kevin Hagerty rode the train recently to Chicago with his son. "I think people are trying to save money and this is the way to save money," he said.
St. Louis can pay as lithe as $26 and go all the way to the Windy City, cheaper than driving or flying.
Madelynn Kennebeck enjoys traveling on the train with her grandchildren. "Be able to show the kids train travel for one to be able to show them what the country looks like on an intimate basis," she said.
Between major cities like Washington and New York 3 times as many travelers choose Amtrak over the the airlines. A greater number of business people are riding the rails in Illinois and Missouri. Andre Collins is one of them. He said, "There`s no check-in there`s no lines, get right on the train."
Ridership has also jumped on the Missouri River Runner, the train from St. Louis to Kansas City. Although there are only two round trips a day people are turning to Amtrak because it`s now dependable.
Eric Curtit works for MODOT, "It`s gone from 63 percent to around 90 percent and we have weeks and sometimes month where it was 100 percent on time performance."
Curtit says newer track or siding allows freight trains to get out of the way of Amtrak so passengers can arrive in Kansas City on time. Plus a new bridge is being built which shouldll eliminate one of the last major bottlenecks in Missouri. Curtit added, "This route consistently is in the top satisfaction of all amtrak routes across the country."
The future for Amtrak looks bright. New cars, new engines and high speed travel is on the way. Marc Magliari said, "In the next five years we`re going to have two 110 mile an hour from Chicago one to St. Louis and one to Detroit."
A 15 mile stretch of track between Dwight and Pontiac illinois opened last year. The train has no problem right now passing traffic on interstate 55. Wi-fi will be added within the year on the River Runer. Amtrak is also green, officials say the route from St. Louis to Kansas City removes about 600 cars from interstate 70 everyday.