Amtrak is in a “precarious position” because of insufficient federal funding and a continuing plunge in ridership due to the coronavirus pandemic, CEO William Flynn told Congress on Wednesday.
Flynn said ridership is still down 80% compared to 2019, and he warned that “it has become clear that the pandemic’s impacts will extend through, and almost certainly beyond” the next year.
Revenue in the financial year that ended in September was only 53% of the prior year, he said.
Amtrak has restored some of the service it had initially cut along the Eastern seaboard, but new cuts to other long-distance trains that crisscross the nation just took effect. Flynn said Amtrak is targeting “late May and June 2021” to restore service if health and demand conditions improve.
But some of Amtrak’s future projections are based on the widespread distribution of an effective coronavirus vaccine in the next year – “which we know is not a guaranteed outcome,” he warned.
Flynn said the service cuts and nearly 2,000 layoffs were unavoidable.
“I must emphasize the Amtrak really had no choice but to take these actions,” he said.