Amtrak Requests Supplemental Funding
Amtrak has asked Congress for an additional $1.475 billion in supplemental funding in fiscal year 2021. According to the letter, additional funding is necessary for Amtrak to operate minimum service levels across the passenger rail network and continue capital investments for the future. The funds would also support Amtrak’s 17 state partners on the National Network and nine commuter and state partners on the Northeast Corridor.
“As the severity and duration of this pandemic and its economic fallout become clearer, we are seeking supplemental federal funding for the next fiscal year,” said Amtrak president and CEO Bill Flynn.
To help offset the impact of revenue losses, Amtrak is taking significant steps to reduce its operating costs by approximately $500 million, including temporarily reducing train capacity across our system to match demand, restructuring its workforce and controlling discretionary expenses. Yet, even with these steps, Amtrak still requires additional federal investment in FY 2021.
Amtrak has stated that they are planning on shifting long-distance routes to less than daily service to match capacity more closely with demand. This would include the Empire Builder route, which has a stops in Wolf Point and Glasgow.
With strong ridership and revenue levels in the first quarter of FY 2020, Amtrak was on track for another record-breaking year. However, Amtrak has seen a dramatic decline in demand for service since the pandemic and is expecting ridership to only return to approximately 50 percent in FY 2021. The $1.475 billion is in addition to Amtrak’s $2.040 billion annual grant request submitted to Congress earlier this year and without this support, Amtrak will be unable to minimize the impacts to service and its workforce.