Amtrak Service Reductions
From October 1st 2020, Amtrak will end daily service to hundreds of stations outside of the Northeast of the USA in an effort to ease the financial blow that the company has incurred following decreased ridership during the global pandemic.
The long-distance passenger train operator has been dealing with a 95% drop of ridership throughout the past months and the staff estimates that numbers could go down by 50% over the next year. The decline has largely been due to strict stay-at-home orders across nearly all states.
“Due to the long-term impact of COVID-19 on ridership, Amtrak has made the decision to operate with reduced capacity,” the company said in a statement. “Our goal is to restore daily service on these routes as demand warrants, potentially by the summer of 2021.”
Overall, Amtrak has announced that it will operate long-distance trains only three times a week instead of daily. The reduced service comes as the agency prepares to let go of 20% of its employees.
Although the exact schedule is still being determined, the company has announced that affected long-distance routes include Chicago to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Seattle; Seattle to Los Angeles; and portions of the Northeast Corridor which services Washington, DC to Boston, with connections through New York City and Philadelphia.
Back in May, Amtrak—whose operation relies on funding from the government—asked Congress for almost $1.5 billion in supplemental capital to maintain minimum service, anticipating the issues it will have to face through 2021.
Almost ironically, the news comes at the heels of Amtrak’s biggest year ever. In 2019, over 32.5 million folks rode the trains, supporting a record growth through the Northeast Corridor in specific. Just a few months ago, the company had even projected that 2020 would have been the first year they’d be able to monetarily break even throughout its 50-year history.