Amtrak: Service Cuts To Continue Through Next Fiscal Year
Amtrak said service reductions on the Hartford Line and Valley Flyer instituted because of the pandemic could remain in place going forward.
The two routes receive some state funding to cover operating costs. In a memo to employees, a top Amtrak official said it would be cutting service on such lines by a quarter, through at least the next fiscal year, amid severe financial trouble.
"This is an appropriate response given the current and near-term market conditions," said Roger Harris, Amtrak executive vice president, chief marketing and revenue officer. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, our ridership has been down as much as 95% year-over-year. It's climbing back slowly — and it is going to take a long time to return to normal."
An Amtrak spokesperson said the cuts will be achieved by keeping in place reductions that were made because of COVID-19.
An advocacy group, the Rail Passengers Association, warned of the long-term impact of the cuts.
"Anytime you take frequencies out, you're reducing the utility of a service," said Jim Mathews, the group's president and CEO. "It's one thing for a month or two, or even five or six, but anything beyond that and people begin to change their behavior permanently."
As of October, Amtrak is also planning to run many long-distance routes just three days a week. An Amtrak spokesperson said that includes the Lake Shore Limited, which runs between Boston and Chicago, and makes stops in Springfield and Pittsfield, Mass.