The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), an agency in the United Sates Department of Transportation (USDOT), recently allocated over $1 billion to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) (). The funds, provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, are intended to assist the railroad’s efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United States.
“This $1 billion in federal emergency assistance to Amtrak will help maintain service for its passengers when the economy recovers,” United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said.
Amtrak has suffered a ridership decline of over ninety percent, as well as a reduction in future ticket purchases, due to decreased travel as a result of the coronavirus. The funding under the CARES Act will help Amtrak offset the loss of ticket revenue used to pay employees, purchase fuel, and maintain its network of intercity passenger routes.
“This funding will help ensure that Amtrak is able to quickly return to service supporting both the public’s transportation mobility needs, and America’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said. “We are committed to transparency and are requiring enhanced reporting from Amtrak to show how the CARES Act funding is being efficiently and effectively used to respond to present challenges.”
The CARES Act will allow FRA to provide Amtrak a total of $1.02 billion: $492,000,000 for the Northeast Corridor and $526,000,000 in National Network Grants. “After Amtrak’s best year ever in 2019, this essential funding will help keep our people working during this unprecedented reduction in travel demand,” Amtrak Senior Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner said. “We thank Secretary Chao and Administrator Batory for their leadership and, with this necessary financial support, we will come out of this crisis ready to continue growing ridership and improving our performance.”
The allocation of these funds under the CARES Act to make our railroads safer in response to a nationwide pandemic would certainly seem to be an appropriate attempt to accomplish FRA’s mission of enabling “the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America.”
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