Amtrak carried nearly 30.2 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2011 ending September 30, marking the highest ridership total since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971 and the eighth ridership record during the past nine years. Ridership versus the prior year is up by more than five percent and ticket revenue is up by more than eight percent, despite significant weather related disruptions in the Northeast, Central and Western U.S. "Thirty million passengers is not just a statistic. That number is made up of real people who live real lives and use Amtrak for personal, business and recreational travel," said Emmett Fremaux, the head of the Amtrak Marketing and Product Development Department. "We thank all our passengers for choosing Amtrak and our state partners for working with us to develop the kind of service that attracts ever increasing numbers of riders," said Amtrak President & CEO Joseph Boardman. "Amtrak is fulfilling its national mission and is part of the solution to meet America's growing transportation and energy needs." Factors contributing to the continuing success of Amtrak include high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on the high-speed Acela Express trains with free Wi-Fi service, with more AmtrakConnectsm deployments coming soon on other services across the country, the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel and effective marketing campaigns. These gains came despite service disruptions due to hurricanes, tropical storms and record snows in the busy Northeast Corridor, record flooding in the Central U.S. and heavy construction that temporarily reduced train frequencies on the Chicago-St. Louis route. The previous Amtrak record for ridership and ticket revenue was set last fiscal year (FY 2010).