The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is making over $1 billion available to Amtrak to support the railroad’s activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the spread of COVID-19.
The funding is part of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“This $1 billion in federal emergency assistance to Amtrak will help maintain service for its passengers when the economy recovers,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a news release.
Amtrak has experienced a more than 90 percent drop in ridership in recent weeks. The CARES Act funding will be used to offset the loss of ticket revenue, which is used to pay Amtrak’s employees, buy fuel and construction materials and help maintain Amtrak’s intercity network, according to the feds.
“This funding will help ensure that Amtrak is able to quickly return to service supporting both the public’s transportation mobility needs, and America’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in a news release. He continued, “We are committed to transparency and are requiring enhanced reporting from Amtrak to show how the CARES Act funding is being efficiently and effectively used to respond to present challenges.”
Under the CARES Act, FRA will make or amend existing grants to Amtrak to provide a total of approximately $1 billion; $492,000,000 for the Northeast Corridor and $526,000,000 for the in National Network Grants.
“After Amtrak’s best year ever in 2019, this essential funding will help keep our people working during this unprecedented reduction in travel demand. We thank Secretary Chao and Administrator Batory for their leadership and with this necessary financial support, we will come out of this crisis ready to continue growing ridership and improving our performance,” Amtrak Senior Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner said in a news release.