Amtrak in Dire Financial Straits, Seeking More Federal Relief Funding

Amtrak officials say they need $4.9 billion in funding to prevent service and job losses.

1 minute read

September 15, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Amtrak Train

John H Gray / Flickr

David Shepardson reports for Reuters on the financial state of Amtrak, where officials are asking Congress for $4.9 billion in additional funding to make ends meet during the pandemic. 

Amtrak Chief Executive William Flynn went before Congress earlier this month to to request the additional funding, warning that the intercity rail system could  face service and job cuts without the funding. Amtrak typically receives $2 billion in funding support from the U.S. government, according to Shepardson.

An earlier article by Pranshu Verma, written for The New York Times, also digs deeper into the pandemic context for Amtrak, comparing it to the U.S. Postal Service as a service provided by the government. 

"For Amtrak, the coronavirus pandemic has not only slashed ridership and any chances of breaking even, it has also forced its leaders to face an existential choice: act like a for-profit airline or a government-subsidized entity," writes Verma. 

Verma also provides more details on the specifics of the financial challenges facing Amtrak since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus earlier this year: "Since March, ridership on the national rail agency has fallen by 95 percent and projected revenue for 2021 has declined by 50 percent." 

As noted in booth articles, Congress has already sent $1 billion in emergency funds to Amtrak, but Amtrak has been asking for more assistance since May.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 in Reuters via St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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