By STEVE JONES Staff writer


BOUND FOR BUFFALO ¿ A westbound diesel hauls an Amtrak train from Rome after stopping to collect passengers at the Martin Street station. The locomotive is crossing South James Street. (Sentinel / John Clifford)

Amtrak ridership in Rome was up slightly in 2011, making it a second year in a row that the city-owned station maintained rail passenger traffic over 9,000, according to company statistics.

Amtrak’s ridership figures are calculated from October of the previous year to September of the current year. For 2011, the station on Martin Street had 4,425 people board trains and 4,765 get off, for a total of 9,190. In 2010, the station had 9,100 on and off — 4,399 and 4,701, respectively.

The numbers in the past two years have been a noticeable step up from the previous 10 years. From 2000 to 2009, the station had between 6,343 and 7,733 riders on and off in Rome each year. The past two years have seen a return to almost the post-1994 high water mark of 1999’s 10,159, when Woodstock 99 helped boost the number with the arrival of many concert-goers.

"We are pleased with the continued popularity of Amtrak’s service to not only places like Rome, but across our entire system," said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole. "We set a company record when we recorded over 30 million passengers last fiscal year, which we can attribute to the high price of gasoline and the hassle-free travel experience Amtrak provides its passengers."

Rome has a unique connection to Amtrak, as its president and chief executive officer, Joseph Boardman, has a home here. The lifelong resident of Rome was born on a dairy farm in Taberg. He now resides with his wife Joanne in Washington, D.C., but they still maintain a house at 403 Sycamore St.

At Utica’s Union Station, 12 miles of track east, total ridership for 2011 was 63,673 last year. That’s up from 61,108 in 2010.

Except for the long-haul New York City to Chicago Lake Shore Limited, the same number of trains that serve Utica also stop in Rome. Both cities are astride the Empire Corridor between NYC and Buffalo, with scheduled intermediate stops.

What Utica has that Rome’s station does not is a ticket agent.

Here is the daily train schedule for Rome:

WESTBOUND to Buffalo

¿ 11:58 a.m. daily.

¿ 2:58 p.m. daily.

¿ 5:53 p.m. daily.

EASTBOUND to NYC

¿ 7:36 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

¿ 10:31 a.m. Saturday.

¿ 11:16 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

¿ 4:54 p.m. daily.

¿ 6:32 p.m. Sunday.