MILWAUKEE — Amtrak has some advice this holiday season — don't expect any last-minute tickets.
"Oh golly. Ridership growth continues and we’ve had to keep adding cars back," said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesperson.
Marc caught a train from Chicago to Milwaukee on Wednesday. A sold-out train, he said, adding that ridership is at 80-90 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
“We can’t add trains fast enough in a lot of these markets," said Magliari. "We’re, right now, still constrained with employees. We’re not running all our Amtrak Midwest network service.”
Year-to-date ridership through September 2021 reached 12.2 million. This year, through September, it's at 22.9 million.
The sold-out trains to Milwaukee back up the numbers. Dan and Lori Kowalewski caught the Amtrak from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Chicago, to Milwaukee. They're visiting their daughter, son-in-law, and four-year-old granddaughter.
"We have to hit the Black Friday shopping, of course. And we’re just going to celebrate family, and enjoy the weather. Whatever happens, happens," said Lori.
Notre Dame aerospace engineering major Jordan Anderson came to town on the same train. A 2020 Rufus King High School graduate, he's here through the weekend for family and food. The busy student is also double minoring in energy studies and theology.
"[I plan] just to get as much rest as I can. School is a bit much. Just to get good food and get as much sleep as possible," said Anderson.
He booked two weeks ago and barely got a seat, he said. The Kowalewski's booked weeks ago. Magliari with Amtrak says if you're planning to travel on the tracks for Christmas, you should be booking now.