Sunday, April 14, 2013

Seat mile and passenger mile costs for Amtrak

Using Amtrak's FY2012 data, and somewhat inspired by Mike Hick's spreadsheet,  let's take a gander at how much it costs Amtrak to move a single seat a single mile.

Here's every route listed from most expensive per seat mile to least expensive per seat mile. Note that the Pere Marquette and Ethan Allen Express don't have enough data to be properly useful.






Cost per seat mile
Cost per passenger mile
Ticket yield per mile
Ticket yield to seat costs
Occupancy
Hoosier State
$0.391
$0.835
$0.153
39.09%
46.81%
New Haven-Springfield
$0.347
$0.704
$0.338
97.44%
49.30%
Auto Train
$0.334
$0.481
$0.320
95.76%
69.48%
Sunset Limited
$0.333
$0.655
$0.138
41.29%
50.90%
Cardinal
$0.310
$0.537
$0.156
50.53%
57.62%
Acela
$0.305
$0.487
$0.787
258.48%
62.50%
Capitol Limited
$0.284
$0.416
$0.181
63.62%
68.20%
Coast Starlight
$0.280
$0.454
$0.183
65.27%
61.75%
Cascades
$0.279
$0.522
$0.233
83.54%
53.51%
Heartland Flyer
$0.276
$0.605
$0.138
49.82%
45.60%
Pere Marquette
$0.275
$0.458
$0.246
89.62%
60.00%
Crescent
$0.261
$0.476
$0.201
77.03%
54.79%
Adirondack
$0.260
$0.321
$0.167
64.04%
81.08%
Silver Star
$0.253
$0.385
$0.160
63.26%
65.55%
City of New Orleans
$0.251
$0.366
$0.175
69.70%
68.51%
Texas Eagle
$0.245
$0.344
$0.143
58.48%
71.28%
Southwest Chief
$0.241
$0.368
$0.140
58.12%
65.58%
California Zephyr
$0.235
$0.401
$0.153
65.05%
58.70%
Silver Meteor
$0.227
$0.351
$0.172
75.64%
64.67%
Lake Shore Limited
$0.210
$0.333
$0.160
76.47%
62.96%
Kansas City-St. Louis
$0.209
$0.427
$0.138
65.95%
49.02%
Empire Builder
$0.202
$0.329
$0.167
82.63%
61.49%
San Joaquins
$0.202
$0.524
$0.232
115.27%
38.46%
Capitol Corridor
$0.196
$0.680
$0.250
128.04%
28.78%
Wolverines
$0.195
$0.384
$0.175
89.85%
50.77%
Pennsylvanian
$0.194
$0.325
$0.192
98.78%
59.84%
Vermonter
$0.193
$0.458
$0.200
103.82%
42.06%
Chicago-St. Louis
$0.188
$0.391
$0.131
69.59%
48.08%
Blue Water
$0.187
$0.397
$0.157
84.03%
47.06%
Northeast Regional
$0.186
$0.386
$0.430
230.89%
48.28%
Illinois Zephyr
$0.183
$0.443
$0.143
78.51%
41.18%
Carolinian
$0.181
$0.233
$0.210
115.84%
77.78%
Piedmont
$0.180
$0.384
$0.164
91.26%
46.88%
Empire Service
$0.172
$0.513
$0.339
197.07%
33.53%
Pacific Surfliner
$0.165
$0.529
$0.262
158.90%
31.15%
Palmetto
$0.164
$0.347
$0.201
122.02%
47.37%
Keystone Service
$0.159
$0.394
$0.272
170.62%
40.43%
Hiawathas
$0.155
$0.410
$0.242
156.07%
37.74%
Illini
$0.154
$0.355
$0.152
98.60%
43.48%
Washington-Newport News
$0.151
$0.252
$0.271
179.15%
60.00%
Downeaster
$0.132
$0.344
$0.177
133.64%
38.36%
Washington-Lynchburg
$0.125
$0.184
$0.259
207.59%
67.86%
Maple Leaf
$0.120
$0.227
$0.195
162.86%
52.63%
Ethan Allen Express
$0.000
$0.000
$0.000
0.00%
50.00%


As Mike Hick noted, there is some weirdness with certain routes that appear to have a percentage of their miles charged to the Northeast Regional instead (though note the oddity of the Downeaster's costs when it doesn't use the Northeast Corridor while the Washington-Newport News trains do). Aside from that however, there a few things that we can see.

Firstly, there is the unsurprising fact that running one or two coaches per locomotive (as is the case with the New Haven-Springfield Shuttle and the Heartland Flyer) is rather expensive. These two routes should be converted to diesel multiple units as soon as practical. High costs for the Adirondacker and the Cascades are probably related to border crossing and carrying Talgo maintenance representatives respectively. Incidentally, I would not be surprised if, should the Hoosier State indeed be retained with state support, its performance improves remarkably. As a state supported service, Amtrak would be required to credit the Hoosier State and Indiana with revenue appropriate to the cost of hauling cars to and from Beech Grove, something I strongly suspect does not currently occur.

Rather interestingly, there doesn't appear to be much if any cost difference for using bilevels instead of single level equipment. However, this could simply mean the greater capacity of bilevels is used to allow shorter train lengths or that the cost difference is wiped out by using allocated costs. 

Unsurprisingly, sleeper service and dining cars on the long distance trains result in a significant increase in costs. The Silver Meteor is 38% more per seat-mile and the Silver Star 54% more per seat-mile compared to the all coach Palmetto running along most of the same route. Using this consist list and this site for car capacity figures,  the Palmetto has 311 seats plus diner and baggage car while the Meteor and Star possess 236 coach seats and 90/60 sleeper "seats" as well as diner, lounge, and baggage making them a good point of comparison. Similarly, I am unsurprised at the high costs of the Acela. It has a small number of seats, a high level of service, and probably some rather extravagant energy consumption costs.

Now, the long distance trains do somewhat better on a passenger mile basis.




Cost per passenger mile
Cost per seat mile
Ticket yield per mile
Ticket yield to seat costs
Occupancy
Hoosier State
$0.835
$0.391
$0.153
39.09%
46.81%
New Haven-Springfield
$0.704
$0.347
$0.338
97.44%
49.30%
Capitol Corridor
$0.680
$0.196
$0.250
128.04%
28.78%
Sunset Limited
$0.655
$0.333
$0.138
41.29%
50.90%
Heartland Flyer
$0.605
$0.276
$0.138
49.82%
45.60%
Cardinal
$0.537
$0.310
$0.156
50.53%
57.62%
Pacific Surfliner
$0.529
$0.165
$0.262
158.90%
31.15%
San Joaquins
$0.524
$0.202
$0.232
115.27%
38.46%
Cascades
$0.522
$0.279
$0.233
83.54%
53.51%
Empire Service
$0.513
$0.172
$0.339
197.07%
33.53%
Acela
$0.487
$0.305
$0.787
258.48%
62.50%
Auto Train
$0.481
$0.334
$0.320
95.76%
69.48%
Crescent
$0.476
$0.261
$0.201
77.03%
54.79%
Vermonter
$0.458
$0.193
$0.200
103.82%
42.06%
Pere Marquette
$0.458
$0.275
$0.246
89.62%
60.00%
Coast Starlight
$0.454
$0.280
$0.183
65.27%
61.75%
Illinois Zephyr
$0.443
$0.183
$0.143
78.51%
41.18%
Kansas City-St. Louis
$0.427
$0.209
$0.138
65.95%
49.02%
Capitol Limited
$0.416
$0.284
$0.181
63.62%
68.20%
Hiawathas
$0.410
$0.155
$0.242
156.07%
37.74%
California Zephyr
$0.401
$0.235
$0.153
65.05%
58.70%
Blue Water
$0.397
$0.187
$0.157
84.03%
47.06%
Keystone Service
$0.394
$0.159
$0.272
170.62%
40.43%
Chicago-St. Louis
$0.391
$0.188
$0.131
69.59%
48.08%
Northeast Regional
$0.386
$0.186
$0.430
230.89%
48.28%
Silver Star
$0.385
$0.253
$0.160
63.26%
65.55%
Wolverines
$0.384
$0.195
$0.175
89.85%
50.77%
Piedmont
$0.384
$0.180
$0.164
91.26%
46.88%
Southwest Chief
$0.368
$0.241
$0.140
58.12%
65.58%
City of New Orleans
$0.366
$0.251
$0.175
69.70%
68.51%
Illini
$0.355
$0.154
$0.152
98.60%
43.48%
Silver Meteor
$0.351
$0.227
$0.172
75.64%
64.67%
Palmetto
$0.347
$0.164
$0.201
122.02%
47.37%
Downeaster
$0.344
$0.132
$0.177
133.64%
38.36%
Texas Eagle
$0.344
$0.245
$0.143
58.48%
71.28%
Lake Shore Limited
$0.333
$0.210
$0.160
76.47%
62.96%
Empire Builder
$0.329
$0.202
$0.167
82.63%
61.49%
Pennsylvanian
$0.325
$0.194
$0.192
98.78%
59.84%
Adirondack
$0.321
$0.260
$0.167
64.04%
81.08%
Washington-Newport News
$0.252
$0.151
$0.271
179.15%
60.00%
Carolinian
$0.233
$0.181
$0.210
115.84%
77.78%
Maple Leaf
$0.227
$0.120
$0.195
162.86%
52.63%
Washington-Lynchburg
$0.184
$0.125
$0.259
207.59%
67.86%
Ethan Allen Express
$0.000
$0.000
$0.000
0.00%
50.00%


While they aren't all near the bottom, and a couple of trains do outperform them, on average the long distance trains cost less than other trains per passenger mile. This is strictly a function of occupancy however. Cheap trains with few passengers are more expensive in that metric than are expensive trains that are well filled.
Since the long distance trains have a sufficiently higher occupancy ratio than do most of the corridor trains, their per passenger-mile figures tend to drop below those of their emptier companions. Note however that the significantly higher occupancy ratios on the Silver Star and Silver Meteor do not make them cheaper than their compatriot the Palmetto or corridor trains with high occupancy ratios such as the Pennsylvanian.



Occupancy
Adirondack
81.08%
Carolinian
77.78%
Texas Eagle
71.28%
Auto Train
69.48%
City of New Orleans
68.51%
Capitol Limited
68.20%
Washington-Lynchburg
67.86%
Southwest Chief
65.58%
Silver Star
65.55%
Silver Meteor
64.67%
Lake Shore Limited
62.96%
Acela
62.50%
Coast Starlight
61.75%
Empire Builder
61.49%
Pere Marquette
60.00%
Washington-Newport News
60.00%
Pennsylvanian
59.84%
California Zephyr
58.70%
Cardinal
57.62%
Crescent
54.79%
Cascades
53.51%
Maple Leaf
52.63%
Sunset Limited
50.90%
Wolverines
50.77%
Ethan Allen Express
50.00%
New Haven-Springfield
49.30%
Kansas City-St. Louis
49.02%
Northeast Regional
48.28%
Chicago-St. Louis
48.08%
Palmetto
47.37%
Blue Water
47.06%
Piedmont
46.88%
Hoosier State
46.81%
Heartland Flyer
45.60%
Illini
43.48%
Vermonter
42.06%
Illinois Zephyr
41.18%
Keystone Service
40.43%
San Joaquins
38.46%
Downeaster
38.36%
Hiawathas
37.74%
Empire Service
33.53%
Pacific Surfliner
31.15%
Capitol Corridor
28.78%

Honestly, what this really tells us is that Amtrak and the various states, especially California, need to put far more money into advertising corridor services. Taking the example of the Pacific Surfliner for parochial reasons, a 60% increase in passenger-miles would be easily within the capacity of the existing equipment, would drop the cost per passenger-mile below every long distance train, and would result in  the the train running close to break even.

Lastly, there is what I think of as the "Making the effort" line





Ticket yield to seat costs
Acela
258.48%
Northeast Regional
230.89%
Washington-Lynchburg
207.59%
Empire Service
197.07%
Washington-Newport News
179.15%
Keystone Service
170.62%
Maple Leaf
162.86%
Pacific Surfliner
158.90%
Hiawathas
156.07%
Downeaster
133.64%
Capitol Corridor
128.04%
Palmetto
122.02%
Carolinian
115.84%
San Joaquins
115.27%
Vermonter
103.82%
Pennsylvanian
98.78%
Illini
98.60%
New Haven-Springfield
97.44%
Auto Train
95.76%
Piedmont
91.26%
Wolverines
89.85%
Pere Marquette
89.62%
Blue Water
84.03%
Cascades
83.54%
Empire Builder
82.63%
Illinois Zephyr
78.51%
Crescent
77.03%
Lake Shore Limited
76.47%
Silver Meteor
75.64%
City of New Orleans
69.70%
Chicago-St. Louis
69.59%
Kansas City-St. Louis
65.95%
Coast Starlight
65.27%
California Zephyr
65.05%
Adirondack
64.04%
Capitol Limited
63.62%
Silver Star
63.26%
Texas Eagle
58.48%
Southwest Chief
58.12%
Cardinal
50.53%
Heartland Flyer
49.82%
Sunset Limited
41.29%
Hoosier State
39.09%
Ethan Allen Express
0.00%



Every train which is less than 100% has its ticketing currently priced such that even if every seat were sold out for the entire journey at the current average fare per seat-mile, it could not possibly make back its costs. Note that this includes every long distance sleeper train. This is not an inherently bad thing: Subsidized rail service as a public good is a perfectly acceptable goal. It is, however, distressing to see every luxury long distance train in that category, especially the Auto Train, which does not have to concern itself with occupancy issues due to passenger turnover.

There's another matter which should address itself to our attention and to the defenders of the long distance trains as they currently stand. The Palmetto, which is all coach as we know, has an average ticket yield of 20.1¢ per passenger mile. This is rather intriguing because it ties it for second alongside the Crescent for highest yielding long distance passenger train after the Auto Train despite the fact that it possesses no sleeping passengers. With an average trip length of 436 miles, these aren't short little jaunts either, but are comparable to the long distance coach trips of other trains. This strongly suggests that the coach fares of the rest of the long distance network could stand to be raised by 50-100%, gradually of course, but raised sharply nonetheless. This would also raise the price of sleepers by several cents per mile, of course, as they pay a basic rail fare, but that's hardly objectionable and would help to improve the financial performance of the train.

16 comments:

  1. Why dont you worry oil use MORON

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, but what does that have to do with anything that I've said?

      Delete
  2. 600% occupancy on the Pere Marquette? Are you sure the raw data is accurate here? Because that's awfully suspicious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I said at the beginning of the post: "Note that the Pere Marquette and Ethan Allen Express don't have enough data to be properly useful."

      Re-examining my table, it looks like I made a typo when entering the data, accidentally putting a loss per seat mile of 9¢ rather than 0.9¢. I'll update the tables in this post later in the day with the corrected information.

      Delete
    2. OK, thanks, that explains that. :-)

      Delete
  3. "This is not an inherently bad thing: Subsidized rail service as a public good is a perfectly acceptable goal."

    And this is what is going on with the ticket prices on trains like the Empire Builder and Southwest Chief, which stop in a bunch of tiny, poor towns. Arguably also on the Lake Shore Limited, which cruises through the economically depressed Rust Belt, the City of New Orleans on its run through Mississippi and Louisiana, etc.

    However, I see and agree with your point. The Auto Train in particular is not a lifeline service for anyone and should be charging enough to cover costs. To the extent that the rich big city - rich big city markets can have their prices raised while still subsidizing the poor midline towns, it should be done.

    I'm going to dispute one of your other statements, however. As you noticed, the load factors on a number of the corridor routes are really quite poor.

    But you think advertising is the answer. I think that will only work in some cases. Three points.

    1 - If on-time performance is too low, advertising is not worth it. Wolverines lost a lot of riders due to this recently, and so have other corridors in other years. It's not good to advertise unreliable services, since people drawn in by the advertising will get turned off and alienated. Only advertise the services which have solid on-time performance.

    2 - If the trains are too slow, advertising is not worth it; if the train is still not a competitive option, only people who are actively seeking it out will enjoy it. At least this doesn't create the same "you cheated me" reaction that bad on-time performance generates -- so advertising may be worth a try. If you can get decent on-time performance.

    3 - There may simply be insufficient demand to get higher loads.

    The NYC-Albany demand isn't actually that high, for example, but it has SEVEN trains each way per day *in addition* to the SIX going further. 13 a day each way is overkill for this corridor. BTW, Amtrak routinely combines the Niagara Falls trains with the Maple Leaf and separates them from the Albany trains (which are listed as "Empire Corridor"). An additional Niagara Falls run would be more valuable than 2 or 3 of the Albany runs.

    Similarly, demand for the Downeaster is never going to be that large due to the low population of Maine, but it has 5 each way every day.

    I suspect the Capitol Corridor has reached the same point of market saturation (at least given its current runtime).

    Advertising might help these cases where a large number of trains are chasing a relatively small demand. Or it might not; the power of advertising to generate purchases is substantial but not entirely predictable.

    Advertising would, however, probably help the Pacific Surfliner significantly, since it is a decent-speed, reliable service between two cities which generate lots of travel demand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "(BTW, Amtrak routinely combines the Niagara Falls trains with the Maple Leaf and separates them from the Albany trains (which are listed as "Empire Corridor")."

      To clarify, I mean that Amtrak does this in accounting. I don't mean that they physically combine or separate trains. I realize my phrasing was confusing.

      Delete
    2. With the long distance trains, I'd rather see special discounted fares for the actual rural communities (for particular stations) rather than an overall subsidy. No reason to subsidize Chicago to Los Angeles. Part of the problem with subsidizing overall fares is that so much is major urban to major urban, at least 44% of the ridership for the Lake Shore Limited for instance.

      Certainly agreed that a reliable service is a primary requirement prior to investing in more advertisement (and arguably should be a focus of the advertisement).

      Delete
    3. It's tricky, though. If you subsidize tickets to Williston ND (for example), you have to make sure that the cost of
      Seattle - Williston
      plus Williston - Chicago
      is more than the cost of Seattle - Chicago.

      Otherwise people will figure it out.

      Delete
  4. I really don't think the cost numbers are useful.
    They include overhead allocation, which is more of an art than a science.

    It just doesn't tell us much. I mean, sure, some stuff pops out: running three-a-week trains is a really bad idea, for example.

    But why would the Capitol Limited have a higher cost per seat-mile than the Texas Eagle? That has to be an artifact of overhead allocation. And that means that differences of up to $.04 / seat-mile on the chart -- and possibly more -- are meaningless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Going back to 2009 data, the last year when it was broken out into FRA defined costs, remaining direct costs, and non-direct costs:
      Capitol Limited: Seat-mile costs of 15.7¢, 8¢, and 4.7¢ respectively
      Texas Eagle: Seat-mile costs of 11.2¢, 3.7¢, and 2.9¢ respectively.

      So the Texas Eagle is cheaper all the way around. I think that can be chalked up to running through cars on the Sunset Limited boosting the number of seat-miles at a fairly low attributed cost.

      Delete
    2. Huh. Hmm. But...

      The outsized per-seat cost of the Capitol Limited is still suspicious. It has exactly the same consist as the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief.

      Why on earth does it have higher *per-seat-mile* costs than each of them? The Zephyr and Chief run across more mountains, so it seems unlikely to be fuel. Maybe those 2009 data give a clue -- does it have more FRA defined costs than them in 2009? Perhaps it's extra-high track access charges? Or cheaper diesel fuel west of Chicago?

      There's something funny going on here and I simply don't trust the numbers to more than 1 digit of precision until we can figure it out.

      Delete
    3. California Zephyr FRA costs were 12.6¢ per mile, Southwest Chief was 12.3¢.

      Since I'm intrigued now:
      Silver Star: 13¢
      Cardinal 17¢
      Silver Meteor 12.6¢
      Empire Builder 10.8¢
      CONO 13.8¢
      Sunset Limited 22.1¢
      Coast Starlight 15.1¢
      Lake Shore Ltd 12.5¢
      Palmetto 8.9¢
      Crescent 14¢
      Auto Train 15.7¢
      Surfliner 8.1¢ (parochial control).

      So, honestly, not certain what the deal is with the Capitol Ltd. Starlight I'd blame on PPC and performance incentives/extra motive power; it carries PVs pretty routinely iirc. That could be an answer for the Capitol Ltd. as well.

      Delete
  5. There's also something else worth noting.

    The trains with the worst ticket yield / seat costs ratios are also *the slowest*, for the most part. (And tend to miss major metro areas, but that seems to be a secondary factor -- the slowness seems to be first).

    The four worst include the two hopeless three-a-week cases (it's slow when you have to wait 24 hours to catch your train... and they're both slow even beyond that) and the slower-than-US-highways Hoosier State, plus the Heartland Flyer.

    The next tranche includes the Silver Star (with backtracking in Florida and the "slow route" through South Carolina) and the Texas Eagle (which crawls between Dallas and Ft. Worth). The Southwest Chief, which wanders along at a leisurely speed on decrepit track from Kansas to Albuquerque, avoiding Wichita and Amarillo, is also down there. There's also the Adirondack, wiggling along low-speed track and then sitting for an hour in customs. The Zephyr, taking the time-consuming route over the mountains in Colorado. (It's an hour or more faster when it's detoured through Wyoming.) The Coast Starlight, running slower-than-driving from LA to Oakland while missing San Francisco, and then crawling through the mountains in Oregon. Kansas City - St. Louis, which was recently sped up by some double-tracking and bridge replacement, but until then suffered from routine delays.

    (The only surprise in this tranche is the Capitol Limited, which I would expect to do somewhat better. Now, the B&O route from DC to Pittsburgh is famously slow and twisty -- but it's not gratuitously slower than the alternatives.)

    Now, my point here is that Amtrak can't raise fares too much on trains which are *too slow*. The slow speed means that fares have to be kept low in order to attract passengers. Before you can raise the prices, you will probably have to *speed the trains up*.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nathanael: "The trains with the worst ticket yield / seat costs ratios are also *the slowest*, for the most part. (And tend to miss major metro areas...)

    ... include the two hopeless three-a-week cases (it's slow when you have to wait 24 hours to catch your train... )"


    The Cardinal and Sunset Ltd are slow, especially when you have to wait two days to catch your train. But I don't think either one is "hopeless" exactly.

    I prefer the word "pathetic" for the three-a-week trains. Both have heavy crew costs -- pure waste -- because the crews have to be put up in hotels in New York and New Orleans and paid "away pay" when they can't work because no train is running.

    The PRIIA studies showed each of these trains if daily would at least double their passenger totals, with their crew costs increasing at a much lower rate, as "away pay" becomes "pay for actually working."

    So the simple solution is to take these trains daily. And as soon as orders for hundreds more passenger cars start to be delivered, we'll probably see Amtrak do just that.

    But there is a little catch: Assume the Cardinal loses $100 a day now. Three days a week = $300 weekly loss. Assume it would lose only $50 a day after going daily. That's great! But wait. Seven days a week = $350 weekly losses. Daily trains would be good value for money; but the money would have to come from somewhere.

    The route from Cincinnati to Indianapolis is slow. From Indianapolis to Chicago averages 40 mph iirc, probably the worst in the national system. There must be places where things could get fixed and make the trains go faster. But don't hold your breath.

    But actually, both trains have good intermediate markets.

    On the Cardinal, Chicago-Indianapolis should be a very strong market with 8 or 10 trains a day. Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati should be good markets. And the Lynchburger has shown what a good market Charlottesville can be. Even Charleston, WVa might be a nice market for daily service.

    On the Sunset, every intermediate city has seen massive growth in Amtrak's 41 years. Population growth in Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson, and (dare I say) Phoenix has led the nation. New Orleans not so much, but Lafayette and Lake Charles have seen good growth.

    It will take a huge investment to get passenger trains into the center of Phoenix again. But simply taking this train daily would give a big boost to Phoenix/Mariposa passengers. The PRIIA study reported that several airport limousine operators said they'd gladly schedule service to Amtrak's Mariposa station from various points in the sprawling Phoenix metro -- seven days a week. But three days a week the numbers just don't work for them.

    Last time Amtrak asked the freight host about daily service for the Sunset, the UP asked for a billion or so in upgrades. Amtrak settled for a faster, tweaked schedule and promised not to ask again about daily service until a few years went by.

    Meanwhile the UP has been double-tracking the route from El Paso to L.A. with their own money. Wonder if that will allow the Sunset to move even faster in the future? What holds Amtrak back again is that there's not enuff of it -- in this case, shortages of locomotives and passenger cars, awaiting deliveries from that big order yet to be funded or placed.

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  7. Two thoughts:
    -The lowest occupancy trains are all ones with significant commuter components. The Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner both serve significant commuter markets, and a large share of the Empire Service's traffic is also commuters into NYP (IIRC, something like 95% of the traffic from stops south of ALB is to/from NYP). The Hiawathas, Downeaster, and Keystones also have similar elements. The only one I can't speak to having something in this vein is the San Joaquins.
    --This largely stems from the nature of needing to operate unreserved seats in a lot of cases, as well as setting prices to accommodate more-or-less daily travelers.
    --The Vermonter is an oddity because the only segment that "counts" on it is either SPG-SAB or NHV-SAB (I think it's the former, not the latter, but things on routes like that are odd).

    -On the "making the effort" chart, one thought that comes to mind is that a few trains have suppressed fares because they almost never get out of the lower buckets and/or if the remaining seats were sold, they'd be sold at higher-than-average costs. I suspect that most of the trains above 80% here would actually make it to covering seat costs in the event they were actually full, and it might even be higher.
    --The remainder are largely "politically low" fares, such as the Adirondack (where fares really are held down). A few others are on already state-supported trains (i.e. ones who showed up as having more-or-less PRIIA-compliant agreements in some of the maps indicatign who needed to renegotiate more than others).

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