Amtrak Asks for a Bigger Federal Handout
The money-losing Amtrak rail service is asking for billions of dollars more federal support, otherwise, it says it may have to cut more than 2,400 jobs and reduce service:
The railroad has “seen that our ridership is not returning as quickly or at the levels that we had hoped for, and we updated our forecast for FY 21,” Amtrak president and CEO William] Flynn wrote to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.
Flynn said Amtrak’s business remains at about 25 percent of pre-COVID levels, and it predicts ridership and revenue in the 2021 fiscal year will hit 40 percent of pre-COVID levels. That, however, is lower than the level Amtrak officials anticipated.
Meanwhile, as part of an “economic recovery proposal,” Amtrak says it needs another $5.2 billion for the 2021 fiscal year, bringing its total request to more than $10 billion. That is “an amount equivalent to the total appropriation for Amtrak included in the House of Representatives’ FY 21 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 7616),” Flynn wrote.
Congress has already provided $1 billion in support. Amtrak supporters say the money matters less than the rail system’s mission:
“Not unlike the Postal Service, Amtrak is a service,” said Jim Mathews, the president and chief executive of the Rail Passengers Association, an advocacy group. “The objective is not profit; the objective is to serve all the communities.”
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Amtrak or the Postal Service…both of which have yet to show a profit, and are relying on taxpayers to underwrite their operations.