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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory late last week formally announced $1 billion in federal funding for Amtrak to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress approved the funding last month as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Amtrak's ridership has plunged more than 90 percent in recent weeks, as the virus took hold across the country. As a result, the national intercity passenger railroad has lost months of ticket purchase revenue and has had to pull certain routes out of service.
The $1 billion will help Amtrak offset the loss of revenue so that it can maintain passenger-rail service when the economy begins to recovery, Chao and Batory said in a joint press release.
"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 recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency," 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."
Under the CARES Act, the FRA will make or amend existing grants to Amtrak to provide a total of $1.02 billion: $492 million for the Northeast Corridor and $526 million 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," said Amtrak Senior Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner.