Amtrak ridership has hit RECORD levels! Good news for our Empire Builder indeed. Amtrak ridership increased in the 1st 6 months of this year, with ridership in March setting a record as the SINGLE BEST MONTH in AMTRAK's history! Ridership GREW 0.9% from October to March compared with the previous year despite disruptions from weather including Superstorm Sandy. AMTRAK reports that 26 of their 45 routes had rider increases. & even more good news: AMTRAK says October, December, & January also set individual monthly records. AMTRAK's ridership has skyrocketed in the last decade, carrying a record 31.2 million riders last year. It's all good. AMTRAK's total boardings & alightings jumped 55.1% from 1997 to 2012. This growth more than triples population growth over the same period & EXCEEDS the growth in real gross domestic product. AMTRAK more than doubled the growth in domestic aviation passengers over the same 16 year period. AMTRAK also far exceeded the growth in driving also. As you know, the Obama Administration has released its budget request for 2014 & the President has once again(!) put forth a bold plan for transforming & expanding train service with some $40 billion in passenger rail investment over the next 5 years. I don't have to tell you how import AMTRAK is to us up here on the Hi-Line & the tremendous boosts it gives to local economy & the great jobs it provides for our neighbors & friends right here in Shelby & our Golden Triangle.For more on our Empire Builder & AMTRAK, check out the National Association of Railroad Passengers at www.narprailorg or e-mail As Shelby Mayor, Dr. Larry J. Bonderud likes to say, "Run to the roundhouse, they'll never corner you there"! With summer & vacation season on the way, I would strongly encourage you to "Ride The Rails" this summer & enjoy an experience of a lifetime. Me? I'll be in the club car! (or passed out in the sleeper!)