Amtrak: Service, Staffing Reductions Possible Without More Tax Dollars

Amtrak said it needs more federal taxpayer money, or else it might need to make service and staffing reductions.

Following a conversation with Congress about what it says is its federal funding needs for the 2021 fiscal year, Amtrak submitted a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formalizing an ongoing request for up to nearly $4.9 billion this fiscal year for Amtrak and its partners.

Without the support, Amtrak said it might need to eliminate 2,400 total jobs.

Amtrak has “seen that our ridership is not returning as quickly or at the levels that we had hoped for, and we updated our forecast for FY 21,” Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn said in the letter. “We now anticipate needing up to $4.857 billion in FY21 to support the company and our employees through this unprecedented situation.”

As Congress considers yet another stimulus package, Amtrak has identified nearly $5.2 billion in additional investments as part of an economic recovery proposal to help the nation recover from the impacts of the pandemic, for a total federal investment of more than $10 billion.

This includes critical projects, such as replacing bridges and tunnels on the Northeast Corridor, new fleet, infrastructure improvements throughout our national network, and significant station improvements. If this additional $5.193 billion investment is made, Amtrak anticipates more than 75,000 jobs could be created.

Business remains at about 25 percent of pre-COVID levels. Based on our current forecast, our FY 2021 ridership and revenue are forecasted to improve to about 40 percent of pre-COVID levels, which is weaker than anticipated.

“To manage this situation, Amtrak will work to adjust its operating and capital spending plans during this short term CR, with the aim of minimizing further impacts on our customers and employees,” Flynn said in the letter. “However, if the FY 20 funding level is extended beyond December 11, 2020 and supplemental funding has not yet been provided, we will be unable to avoid more drastic impacts that could have long lasting effects on our Northeast Corridor infrastructure and the national rail system.”

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