Amtrak has experienced an unprecedented decline of over 90% in ridership in recent weeks as well as a decline in future ticket purchases for the coming months, and has pulled certain routes out of service. Amtrak
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is making over $1 billion available to the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak) to support the railroad’s activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S. and its impacts on operations and business. The funding is being provided under the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Amtrak has experienced an unprecedented decline of over 90% in ridership in recent weeks as well as a decline in future ticket purchases for the coming months, and has pulled certain routes out of service. The CARES Act funding will be used to offset the loss of ticket revenue, which is used to pay Amtrak’s employees, buy fuel for its operations and construction materials for its projects, and otherwise maintain Amtrak’s robust network of intercity passenger routes, including routes in rural areas that have seen total cancellation in service. Ticket revenues also fund track and infrastructure maintenance programs on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor which millions of Americans use to commute to their jobs every day.
Under the CARES Act, FRA will make or amend existing grants to Amtrak to provide a total of approximately $1.02 billion; $492 million for the Northeast Corridor and $526 million for the in National Network Grants, as authorized by sections 11101(a) and 11101(b) of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, the multimodal surface transportation legislation that provides statutory parameters for FRA’s execution and oversight of grant agreements with Amtrak for Federal funds appropriated by Congress.
In addition, DOT’s investment will help mitigate the cost impact on America’s 28 State-supported intercity passenger rail routes, where state governments would otherwise be required to make up ticket revenue shortfalls. At least $239 million of the funds provided will be used in lieu of any increase in states’ payments.
Each year, FRA executes and oversees grant agreements with Amtrak for the Federal funds appropriated by Congress. In conjunction with operating revenues and funds from states, local governments, and other entities, Amtrak uses Federal funds for a wide range of its operating and capital activities, including a portion of its operating expenses, capital maintenance of fleet and infrastructure, capital expansion and investment programs, and capital debt repayment.