To begin with, it's a bit of a misnomer as there's no revenue information in the available summary report. Though I lack any proof, I believe that this was simply, and reasonably, redacted from the report in order to protect their commercial interests. It is a bit unfortunate however since the fare level has a rather large impact on the reasonableness of their ridership estimates.
One thing I would like to quickly address is the mystery I had with the number of passengers diverted from air travel exceeding the number of Orlando-Miami air passengers by a significant margin. As it turns out, according to the FAA on page 24, the number of Orlando-Ft. Lauderdale air passengers is nearly double that of Orlando-Miami, totaling 163,500 annual passengers. The diversion is only on the order of 60% of air passengers then which is rather more reasonable. The diversion from Amtrak is still somewhat mysterious, but may be a result of growth projections as well as possible intermodal trips from All Aboard Florida.
While the EIS refers to the 3.5 million ridership figure as coming from the most conservative ridership case, that's not strictly accurate, at least as how I'd read it. Rather, the 3.5 million comes from the base case. In their own words:
The scenario does not include potential future changes to the proposed AAF service, such as additional future station locations; and does not include consideration of future changes to the relevant transportation network that are subject to some level of uncertainty, such as impact of the growth in congestion on major highways and arterials in the market area, or the impact of potential direct connections with local transit improvements planned by local and regional agencies. (page 3)
Accounting for connections to other transit, such as SunRail and Ft. Lauderdale's streetcar; marketing initiatives; frequent rider loyalty programs; revenue yield management; and other incentives; results in a ridership forecast of up to 5.1 million in 2019, composed of 2,434,300 Orlando riders and 2,671,556 riders traveling solely within the West Palm Beach-Miami corridor. I don't believe this is an achievable ridership figure for the very simple reason that they do not have nearly enough seats to satisfy demand, which amounts to an average of 437 passengers per train every single day. Even nine-car trains are going to see frequently sold out trains in the peak periods and while some will go for cheaper off-peak trains, it's stretching the imagination to suggest that they'll manage to nearly fill each and every single one of them.
|Base case 2019 market share|
Congested auto travel times were accounted for in estimating station access and long-distance auto travel times. The AAF forecast is not predicated on future growth in congestion, however. This is a conservative approach as it is very likely that congestion within and between the regions will increase, making non-highway modes of travel more competitive. (Page 11)It's also interesting to note that the impact of fuel prices upon ridership are considered to be negligible, with travel time (including station access time) and frequency being the dominant factors on ridership. A 20% increase in gasoline or air fare leads only to a 1.4% and 1.7% predicted increase in AAF ridership. On the other hand, decreasing the running time by 10% leads to a 5% increase in ridership in the West Palm Beach-Miami market and 7% overall (with a similar drop should running times increase). Similarly, large gains are expected when travel times increase for parallel modes; in the most extreme, a 20% increase in travel time due to freeway congestion (but not impeding intracity travel to stations), there is a predicted 16% ridership gain in the long distance market and 12% in the short distance.
However, the ridership summary does graphically show that putting the northern terminus at Orlando Airport is probably not the best decision. Compare the population and employment density of the Orlando station with that of the other three:
In pure numbers, there are 170,944 people living within a 5-mile radius of the West Palm Beach station (2010), 232,800 within five miles of Fort Lauderdale, 469,842 within five miles of the new Miami station, but only 58,439 within five miles of the Orlando station. Having never once yet enjoyed the drive into an airport, I would not be surprised if Orlando underperformed due to the inconvenient nature of its station. That said, it is something that should be easily fixed: SunRail's planned connection to Orlando Airport would cost $100 million to build. That's a fairly small sum in the scheme of things for All Aboard Florida and it's possible that SunRail will prove amenable to allowing trackage rights to the Amtrak station in Orlando in exchange for bankrolling the project. That's a trade that will do wonders to boost ridership figures and connectivity in Orlando while aiding both projects.