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Amtrak has best month ever as ridership growth continues

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

Amtrak continues to enjoy record-setting ridership, including the single-best month ever in March.

This week, the railroad reported a nearly 1 percent ridership gain for the first six months of fiscal 2013 despite service disruptions from Superstorm Sandy. Twenty-six of 45 routes saw gains and Amtrak said it expects to finish the fiscal year at or above last year’s record ridership of 31.2 million.

There was good news for the Pennsylvanian, the route that had been in jeopardy before the state and Amtrak reached a subsidy agreement recently. Ridership was up 4.3 percent.

Incidentally, at a hearing before the Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee this week, PennDOT deputy secretary Toby Fauver, whose department agreed to pay $3.8 million to keep the Pennsylvanian running, said the subsidy amounts to $15 to $16 per passenger, and called the current fares “low,” saying they may have to be raised. Stay tuned.

The Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York Keystone route had a 5.2 percent ridership gain for the six-month period.

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All taxed out, bunky? The Gateway Clipper wants to give you a discount. For one day only, tax day, Monday, April 15, cruises will be 25 percent off. Visit www.gatewayclipper.com for more information.

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ICYMI: American Airlines will start nonstop service from Pittsburgh International Airport to Los Angeles on Aug. 27. Read the Post-Gazette coverage here.

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roadworkaheadInbound Route 28 will be down to one lane from the 40th Street Bridge to East Ohio Street from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. We continue to hear drumbeats from the work site that construction around the 31st Street Bridge will be completed early -- maybe a year ahead of schedule. PennDOT for now is sticking with the original projection of late 2014.

Piggy driver item: PennDOT will close the outbound left lane on Route 28 at various points between Etna and Fox Chapel from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through April 19 while its crews remove “excess litter and debris” from the side of the road.

A section of the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway will be closed this weekend for construction on the South Highland Avenue Bridge and East Liberty Transit Center projects, and repairs to the Neville Ramp, Port Authority announced. The closure will begin at midnight on Saturday and conclude by the start of service on Monday, causing detour of the P1 East Busway-All Stops route through East Liberty. The route will not serve Penn, Herron, Negley and East Liberty stations during the closure, and will instead use Bigelow Boulevard, Baum Boulevard and Penn Avenue between Downtown and the busway ramp at Port Authority’s East Liberty bus garage. Temporary stops will be located on local streets near the stations: Bigelow at Herron, Baum at Roup/Negley and Penn near the East Liberty Target. Additionally, the P1’s Downtown stops will change slightly during the detour. P1 riders should allow for extra travel time during the work.

Travel on Interstate 79 in Butler County is going to get more complicated starting on Saturday. Starting then, northbound traffic will be shifted to the southbound side of the highway, with single-lane traffic in both directions, at a bridge replacement project at the Route 422 interchange, Exit 99 in Muddycreek. Delays are likely from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday while crews make the transition. The two-year, $14 million project will replace both bridges. Next season, southbound traffic will be crossed to the northbound side. About 25,000 vehicles use that section of highway on a typical day. Also on Saturday, the ramp from eastbound Route 422 to northbound I-79 will close at about 7 a.m. and remain closed through late July.

Lane closures and restrictions are possible on Route 837-State Street from the Glassport-Clairton Bridge to New England Road in Clairton and on Route 148 from the Port Vue-15th Street Bridge to Lysle Boulevard in McKeesport from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. weekdays starting Monday and continuing through June for resurfacing.

The bridge at the end of Duncan Avenue in Hampton, where it connects to Route 8, will close April 22 for replacement.

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