- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Ticket sales have increased by 14 percent since the Hoosier State passenger train from Indianapolis to Chicago changed ownership and management a year ago.

Wednesday is the first anniversary of the line’s three-year partnership among Amtrak, Iowa Pacific Holdings, the Indiana Department of Transportation and cities along the route, the Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/2ahHl0t ) reported.

With the agreement, Iowa Pacific provides and maintains the train cars, Amtrak operates them, and the cities and the transportation department chip in on annual funding.

In the first year under new ownership and management, nearly 28,000 tickets were sold on the Hoosier State, compared with nearly 32,000 the previous year. Ticket revenues of more than $858,000 compared with more than $748,000 the previous year.

The recent rise in ticket sales includes a more than 65 percent increase in June from the prior year and 63 percent in July.

Iowa Pacific president Ed Ellis said the increase in ticket sales revenue comes despite a 12 percent decline in the number of passengers because of earlier uncertainty about the service’s viability.

“People really like what they are getting,” Ellis said. “We had to recover from a service before that was not known as very customer-friendly. It will take some time for people to discover what is available now, to tell their friends, so word of mouth spreads.”

Ellis said that many travelers are choosing more expensive business class tickets, which became available in October. He said coach tickets are slightly more expensive than they used to be.

He said the revenues don’t include what the railway line has sold in food and beverages. Exact figures on concession revenues weren’t immediately available.

Officials of the state’s transportation department say Indiana is now among the Hoosier State passenger train is now among the highest-rated trains on the Amtrak system, with about 90 percent of riders saying they’re satisfied.

The department says on-time performance has averaged 82 percent this year compared to Amtrak’s data of 54 percent in 2014 and 67 percent in 2015. Better dispatched communication with train engineers at the Chicago rail yard and track improvements there helped reduce backups, Ellis said.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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