Vermonter Amtrak experiences first vacation since returning

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vermont (WCAX) –

“I can’t wait to sit down and have a relaxing trip – without driving, without being responsible,” said Kelly Barnett of Jericho.

Barnett is about to embark on his first Amtrak trip to visit his daughter in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving.

She bought her ticket about 3 weeks ago because flying didn’t seem like a good option anymore.

“It was a more reasonable way to travel financially – when we started looking at things it was just too late and the prices were crazy,” Barnett said – and it’s shared by many on the train on Saturday morning.

Some are students returning home for the Thanksgiving vacation, like Emma Tlusei from the University of Vermont.

“It’s cheaper, I already bought the ticket for Christmas – I didn’t want to have to buy two $ 300 tickets,” Tlusei said.

Riding the Amtrak is second nature to St. Mike student Chica Romain as he returns home to New York.

“I’m used to taking the train – Amtrak isn’t too far from what I’m used to as well – and I try to take my bike with me,” Romain said.

Amtrak officials say Saturday’s Vermonter is full – with just over 200 people packing the seats.

“Amtrak operators in the field say each year that Amtrak is handing out a few more coach cars to trains during the holiday season that they believe will need the extra space. This year, the Vermonter got one of those extra trainer cats – and operators say it doesn’t happen very often.

Thanksgiving is the first big holiday since Amtrak returned to Vermont last July – and VTrans Amtrak Grants Program Director Toni Clithero says ridership on Vermont is exceeding their expectations, even though it is below expectations. previous years.

“It looks like we’re picking up pretty much where we left off, but the best guess with where we’re at is around 80% of what we did before the shutdown,” Clithero said.

On the other hand, ridership on the shorter route Ethan Allen Express is up 4%.

Clithero says they saw 19,347 passengers boarding or departing at a Vermont station between July and September – but the real boom came as the holiday season approached.

“Thanksgiving is the leader of all transportation industries – and it’s always been strong in Vermont – but like I said, it looks like it happened earlier this year,” Clithero said.

Not all bikers get on a Thanksgiving trek. Ethan Hans loves trains, and on his 8th birthday he receives the gift of travel – from Essex to Montpellier.

“We were looking for a chance to get on the train – one way or another locally – and it makes the most sense, this is the closest opportunity,” said Kevin Hans, father of Ethan.

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