In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn said that the passenger railroad service will need an additional $1.475 billion in funding for fiscal year 2021 in order to avoid service cuts.
Flynn said that, as of February, Amtrak had been on track to break even for the first time ever, but as the pandemic led people to cut back on travel, many routes are now struggling to reach 10% of normal ridership. “While we work towards a full recovery one day, our current projections tell us that we expect to see ridership drop by approximately 50%, down to just over 16 million riders in FY 2021,” Flynn wrote.
Amtrak had already requested $2.04 billion for its Northeast Corridor and national network for fiscal year 2021. The new request is for funding on top of that. Amtrak received $1 billion in emergency funding as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Congress approved in March. Flynn said that the railroad is planning to reduce operating costs by $500 million in fiscal 2021, including $150 million in savings from reduced train frequency and capacity and $350 million from workforce restructuring.