Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak finances’

Amtrak Seeking $1.7B in FY 2019

February 26, 2018

Amtrak is seeking $1.7 billion in federal funding for fiscal year 2019, which is considerably more than the Trump Administration has proposed that it receive.

The passenger carrier’s budget request is similar to what Congress authorized for it in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015.

The funding request includes a long list of proposed capital improvement needs, including $6.272 billion for the proposed new Hudson River tunnels, and seeks changes to federal law that the carrier said will improve its cost recovery and operations.

The administration has proposed slashing Amtrak funding by almost two-thirds, from $1.5 billion to $538 million.

Amtrak usually does not receive all of what it requests from Congress. Due to the inability of lawmakers to approve an appropriations bill, Amtrak’s current funding is based on its fiscal year 2017 allocation because FY 2018 spending has been handled in a series of continuing resolutions. The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

The Fiscal Year 2019 General and Legislative Annual Report to Congress projects that Amtrak’s funding needs will increase to $2.1 billion by fiscal 2023.

Northeast Corridor funding will rise from $543 million in FY 2018 to $966 million in 2023. The National Network, which includes long-distance and state-supported corridor trains, is expected to see its funding needs drop from $1.157 million to $1.134 million.

Trump Wants to Cut Amtrak Funding in Half

February 14, 2018

Here we go again. The proposed fiscal year 2019 federal budget released this week by the Trump administration proposes cutting in half the federal funding for Amtrak.

As the administration did a year ago, it is taking aim at long-distance trains, calling for funding of those to be slashed and for states served by the trains to pick up that funding.

But even the Northeast Corridor would face federal funding cuts, seeing its funding reduced from $328 million to $200 million.

Total Amtrak funding would be $538 million. Congress appropriated $1.2 million for Amtrak in the current fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30.

The Trump administration proposed a similar budget cut for Amtrak last year, but Congress ignored it.

Amtrak issued a statement saying the proposed cuts would negatively affect the more than 31 million people who ride Amtrak.

“As the budget process progresses, we look forward to working with the administration, Congress, state partners and other stakeholders to consider these proposals and the impacts they could have on this important part of the nation’s transportation system,” the passenger carrier said.

Amtrak said it remains focused on running efficiently, saying that it covered 94.7 percent of its total network operating costs through ticket sales and other revenues in fiscal year 2017, but it must rely on some level of federal funding.

In a 160-page budget narrative submitted to Congress, the White House Office of Management & Budget said that having states share the burden of funding Amtrak would make “states more equal partners with the federal government, and would strengthen the responsiveness of Amtrak to the communities they serve.”

The narrative contends that along with cuts to Amtrak funding the administration “proposes reforms to Amtrak to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of long-distance routes.”

“State contributions to long distance routes is only one tool in the menu of options,” the administration said it will be exploring.

Amtrak Set Revenue Record in November

December 14, 2017

Amtrak said this week that it garnered record revenue in November of $204.7 million in system-wide adjusted ticket revenue, the best month in the company’s history.

In a news release, Amtrak said that Thanksgiving continued to be its busiest week of the year with a record 777,897 riders riding the train and generating $61 million in gross ticket revenue.

“More customers are choosing Amtrak as it is simply the smarter way to travel. We look forward to providing the Amtrak experience to more customers over the December holidays,” said Amtrak Co-CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman in a statement.

Amtrak said it is encouraging passengers to make their reservations now for Christmas season travel because it expects its trains to carry heavy crowds this month.

Passengers can save up to 25 percent on tickets, as 7-day and 14-day advance purchase saver fares are still available, the carrier said.

Amtrak Ridership up 1.5% in FY2017; Operating Loss Was Lowest it’s Been in Decades

November 16, 2017

Amtrak recorded its lowest operating loss in decades this year the carrier said on Thursday. The national passenger carrier said it broke passenger and revenue records for the year ending Sept. 30, helping to narrow its operating loss to $194 million.

During the period Amtrak recorded 31.7 million passenger trips, a 1.5 percent increase over FY2016 and had total revenue of $3.2 billion, an increase of 1.1 percent over FY 2016.

In breaking out ridership by service type, Amtrak said it carried 12 million in the Northeast Corridor, up 1 percent, which set a record.

State-supported trains carried 15 million passengers, a 2.1 percent increase, while the long-distance routes carried 4.6 million riders, an increase of 0.9 percent

Amtrak also set a record for cost recovery, covering 94.7 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues.

“Over the next several years, we’re aiming to cover total operating costs from ticket and other revenues by strengthening our services and continuing to drive efficiency,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia in a statement. “To do this, we are making investments in tracks and stations, on our trains, and in the delivery of customer service so that we can serve more customers with a better experience.”

Amtrak said it cuts its debt from $3.3 billion on Sept. 30, 2007, to $1.2 billion on Sept. 30, 2017, a reduction of 64 percent over the 10-year period.

Other notable milestones for Amtrak in FY2017 included a 19 percent increase in membership in its Amtrak Guest Rewards program and launching a national partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft.

Congress Approves Amtrak FY2017 Funding

May 6, 2017

Congress this week approved an omnibus budget bill that will fund Amtrak and other transportation programs through Sept. 30, the end of the current federal fiscal year.

Amtrak received $1.495 billion, an increase of $105 million over its fiscal year 2016 appropriation.

The funding includes $328 million for the Northeast Corridor and $1.167 billion to support the national network.

Amtrak Reports ‘Exceptional’ FY 2016

November 17, 2016

Amtrak said on Thursday that unaudited financial records show that it ended fiscal year 2016 in an exceptional financial position.

Amtrak logoTicket revenue was a record $2.14 billion, a $12 million increase over FY 2015. The carrier served 31.3 million passengers, nearly 400,000 more than the previous year.

It was the sixth consecutive year that Amtrak has carried more than 30 million customers.

Amtrak said it covered 94 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues, up from 92 percent in the previous fiscal year.

The unaudited total revenue was a record $3.2 billion for FY 2016. Amtrak reported an unaudited operating loss of $227 million, a reduction of $78 million over last year, and the lowest operating loss since 1973.

This helped the passenger carrier make a net reduction in long-term debt of $71.4 million.

“The results demonstrate the value we deliver to our customers and the vital role Amtrak plays in our nation’s transportation system,” said Amtrak Chairman of the Board Anthony Coscia in a statement. “We are off to another strong start for the new fiscal year and will provide a great travel experience for customers who choose Amtrak in the upcoming holiday season.”

Several Amtrak services had record years in ridership and revenue including the Northeast Regional (Boston-New York-Washington/Virginia), Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo-San Diego), Capitol Corridor (San Jose-Sacramento/Auburn), Keystone (New York-Philadelphia-Harrisburg) and Hiawatha (Milwaukee-Chicago) state-sponsored corridors, along with the California Zephyr (Chicago-San Francisco Bay).

To boost ridership, Amtrak added cars to high-demand or sold-out trains. On time performance of trains and customer satisfaction scores both improved.

The 2016 fiscal year ended on Sept. 30.

Amtrak Funded for FY 2017

October 6, 2016

Amtrak funding for fiscal year 2017 has been assured as a result of President Barack Obama signing a continuing resolution that will keep the federal government in business through Dec. 9.

Amtrak logoFY 2017 began on Oct. 1 and Amtrak will receive $235 million for the Northeast Corridor and $1.155 billion for the national network for a total of $1.39 billion,

It is the same amount that Amtrak received in FY 2016, but Amtrak is being directed to spend any profits generated by the NEC only on the NEC. Observers say this will result in Amtrak’s total funding being higher.

Amtrak was funded for all of FY 2017 in the continuing resolution because of a provision in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act that requires Amtrak to implement new accounting procedures in 2017.

If Amtrak had been funded for a portion of 2017 but under 2016 funding policies, it would have had to maintain separate but parallel accounting systems in 2017, causing wasted hours of work and millions of dollars in added costs.

Other programs named in the FAST Act that affect intercity passenger rail will need to be funded by the 2017 Transportation-Housing Urban Development appropriations bill that Congress may approve after the November elections.

White House Seeks Amtrak ‘Anomaly’ Funding

September 6, 2016

President Obama is requesting a full year of government funding for Amtrak in fiscal year 2017 as part of a list of “anomalies” proposed for a continuing resolution to keep the federal government operating after the 2016 fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

Amtrak logoThe Obama Administration is seeking $1.39 billion for Amtrak.

The reason for the request is due to Amtrak’s planned transition to a new accounting structure that is required by the 2015 FAST Act.

Rail passenger advocates say that if the Amtrak funding is approved it would put Amtrak on more solid financial ground but delay by a year any funding of the FAST Act’s passenger rail grant programs.

Passenger train advocates are seeking approval for funding of the new programs that have already been agreed to by House and Senate appropriations committees.

Boardman Outlines Headwinds Amtrak Facing

February 23, 2016

Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman told a Senate Committee on Tuesday that low gas prices and a strong dollar are negatively affecting Amtrak ridership this year.

Boardman told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that other headwinds that Amtrak is facing include a pending Surface Transportation Board on-time performance rule-making proceeding and a strong U.S. dollar that has reduced international ticket sales.

Amtrak logoLower oil prices have sent many would-be Amtrak passengers to their automobiles to travel.

“This will be a challenging fiscal year for us and the rail industry,” Boardman said. “I think these challenges will continue in the years to come, and it’s going to be important that all of us who believe in intercity passenger rail work together to support its development.”

During his testimony, Boardman said the STB rule making proceeding pertaining to on-time performance is needed to prod the freight railroads into working harder to keep Amtrak trains on schedule.

If on-time standard are not approved by the STB, Boardman said, it could negatively affect long-distance and state supported trains and result in higher costs for taxpayers.

Boardman said Amtrak’s long-distance trains are particularly important to smaller communities, not just major metropolitan areas.

“We don’t just leap from city to city — we connect smaller towns and communities with one another, and with the nation’s major urban center,” Boardman said. “These communities pay taxes, too, and we provide them a service they use and depend on. I think the excitement you saw last week is dramatic evidence of just how much we can bring to those towns — and how deeply they appreciate it.”

He was referring to an inspection trip that ran over the former route of the Sunset Limited between Jacksonville, Florida, and New Orleans.

The line has been without Amtrak service since Hurricane Katrina damaged the tracks and Amtrak stations along the route.

“We must be careful not to lose the economies of scale of a unified operation,” Boardman said. “One of the things I have learned in my eight years of service is that a unified system brings not just economies of scale, but a greater understanding of the value that Amtrak delivers for the nation.”

Knox W. Ross, the mayor of Pelahatchie, Mississippi, and secretary-treasurer of the Southern Rail Commission, made a plea in support of long-distance trains.

The commission has been working to restore the Sunset Limited east of New Orleans.

Ross said a strong national network is important for everyone, even communities such as his, which is located 20 miles from the Sunset Limited route.

“The success of our town is directly tied to the prosperity of the region,” Ross said. “For my region to prosper, we must have a transportation system that provides options for residents to connect to opportunity in our region and beyond.”

Ross called supporting Amtrak was a “bi-partisan issue that we can all agree on.”

Timothy Hoeffner, chair of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission and Director of the Office of Rail for the Michigan Department of Transportation, also touted the benefits of long-distance trains even though Michigan does not lie on any long-distance routes.

Hoeffner spoke of the importance of a unified national network and called for better synergies between the long-distance and state-supported routes as well as the critical Northeast Corridor. He said a direct link from Michigan to the NEC would be beneficial to Michiganders by avoiding a “detour” through Chicago.

Amtrak Seeks $1.8B in FY 2017

February 19, 2016

In a five year improvement plan, Amtrak is seeking $1.8 billion from Congress for fiscal year 2017.

The request includes $920 million for capital expenditures, $650 million for operating expenses and $263.7 million in federal discretionary grant programs authorized under the new surface transportation bill that Congress approved last year.

Amtrak logoThe budget request would cover continued efforts to improve service and safety, funding for implementation of positive train control, an expansion of Wi-Fi service throughout Amtrak’s network, and costs related to the Hudson River tunnel project.

“Amtrak’s capital needs are pressing. Outdated and inadequate infrastructure and equipment must be replaced to sustain and grow both the Amtrak system and the economy it supports,” Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman wrote in a letter to accompany the budget request.

Boardman said Amtrak’s ridership last year exceeded 30 million for the fifth consecutive year, with ridership records set on the Northeast Corridor and two other services.

At $2.185 billion, ticket revenue was slightly less than the previous year.

Noting that Amtrak’s cost recovery was about 90 percent for the second consecutive year, Boardman said ticket revenue was “enough, when combined with our efforts to control costs, to sustain our financial performance.”