JEFFERSON CITY - Riders are boarding the train more and more according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. MoDOT reported multiple increases in ridership from July through October, including a 5 percent increase at the Jefferson City location and a four percent increase on the entire Missouri River Runner route that rides between Kansas City and St. Louis.
"The first four months we've seen a 4 percent increase overall on our ridership between St. Louis and Kansas City, and here in the Jefferson City station we've seen almost a 5 percent increase with passengers going and coming from the station here in Jefferson City," said MoDOT Railroad Operations Manager Kristi Jamison.
In the first four months of fiscal year 2016, July through Augsut, MoDoT had 62,475 passengers. At the same time in 2017, there were 65,018 passengers.
Previously there had been a dip in ridership, something MoDOT officials attributed to several factors.
"A lot of times what you see is you'll see with gas prices, if there's a fluctuation in gas prices where it's more economical to take the car then we'll see an affect on the ridership where it decreases," said Jamison.
Something else that has affected ridership numbers according to Jamison is work that's being done on a high-speed railroad route running from Chicago to St. Louis.
"About the last couple of years we've been affected with lower has prices and then there's been significant work that's being done between Chicago and St. Louis where we have a lot of our ridership come into the St. Louis station," said Jamison. "Those have had an impact on our ridership numbers."
Jamison says although the work seemed to be affecting ridership, these new numbers change things.
"We're always excited to see more ridership and more use of the system because it is based support from the Missouri General Assembly as well as the ticket revenue. So it's always good for our ridership numbers to be climbing, and it's good for our communities as well," said Jamison.
Jamison said MoDOT expects more increases once the construction is complete.
"We know that once that project is complete, that we expect ridership even on that line, which is not a Missouri service, but we expect that to increase again," Jamison said "This would benefit our service because we see anywhere from 10 to 30% of the ridership on the Missouri River Runner line is supported because of the connections that we have on national trains in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Illinois."
Jamison says the beginning of the holiday season could help maintain increases in ridership as fiscal year 2017 continues.
[Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to change the spelling of "their" to "there."]