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Downeaster ridership is returning to near its pre-pandemic record highs

Passengers board Amtrak's Downeaster train, headed for Portland, Maine from Boston, at the station in Exeter, N.H., Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
Charles Krupa
/
AP file
Passengers board Amtrak's Downeaster train, headed for Portland, Maine from Boston, at the station in Exeter, N.H., Tuesday, July 10, 2012.

Ridership on the Downeaster passenger rail is close to returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The number of passengers on the train from Maine to Boston sharply fell during the early years of the pandemic. But according to the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, ridership during the last fiscal year reached nearly 517,000 passengers — close to the record levels set in 2019.

The authority's executive director, Patricia Quinn, said that ridership looks different following the pandemic, with fewer people traveling on weekdays, but more on the weekends.

"Really, we've seen ridership growth across all of our trains. And across all of our stations," Quinn said.

Quinn noted that more people have moved to southern Maine communities, such as Biddeford, and are commuting to Boston a few days per week. She also said that there has been an increase in riders driving from other parts of Maine and boarding the train in Brunswick.

"Brunswick is kind of the station that catches people, from more northern parts of the state. So that's a positive trend, of people coming from all across the state," she said.

The authority said that preliminary numbers indicate that a record number of passengers rode the Downeaster last month.

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