Posts Tagged ‘coronavirus’

Infrastructure Funding Might be in Next Legislation to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

April 2, 2020

Congress is eyeing a fourth bill to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and it might address infrastructure funding.

President Donald Trump has signaled that he would support a $2 trillion infrastructure package as part of that legislation.

Other congressional leaders have also identified areas they would like to see funded but some observers think that whatever bill makes it through the House and Senate will be limited to health care matters.

Congress most recently approved a stimulus bill providing $2.2 trillion in funding, which is several hundred billion dollars more than the federal budget for one fiscal year.

Lawmakers are hoping that the stimulus bill will benefit the economy by as much as an additional $4 trillion.

The $1.018 billion that the stimulus bill provided for Amtrak was intended in part to limit the funding states must pay for services they support.

In an unrelated development, the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners reported that several moves of private cars via Amtrak that had been planned in March were canceled by their owners as a result of the pandemic.

AAPRCO also posted its mid-term meeting from March 23 to late July.

VIA Suspends Trains, Reduces Service Levels

March 17, 2020

VIA Rail Canada has also announced that it has suspended its Canadian, Ocean and long distance eastern and western routes until March 27 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian intercity rail passenger carrier has also reduced service in its corridor linking Windsor, Ontario, and Quebec City by 50 percent.

Onboard meal service has been modified to conform to social distancing guidelines.

Aditional workers are being added to conduct sanitization procedures, which may result in trip delays and late departures.

More Amtrak Service Cuts Announced

March 16, 2020

Amtrak updated its service reduction plans on Sunday and added the Colorado ski train to the list of cuts.

The service advisory said that the ski train, which operates between Denver and Winter Park, would be canceled for the remainder of the season.

Ski resorts in the state have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amtrak also said that café car service in the Northeast Corridor will be suspended on some trains operating between New York and Washington.

The carrier had earlier said that starting March 16 Northeast Corridor service will be reduced to 40 percent of its typical weekday operations.

In addition, Keystone Service will operate on a Saturday schedule between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Amtrak will not provide service to the Pennsylvania cities of Ardmore, Paoli, Downingtown, Parkesburg, Coatesville and Exton.

The Hartford Line and Valley Flyer will operate  on a Saturday scheduled seven days a week.

On the Empire corridor, the Maple Leaf will operate only between New York and Niagara Falls, New York, with service to Toronto suspended.

The New York-Montreal Adirondack will operate only between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York.

Amtrak said other services may be affected by service cuts and changes as circumstances surrounding the coronavis pandemic change.

Amtrak Eyes Service Cuts Due to Lost Revenue, Bookings

March 13, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic may cost Amtrak “several hundred million dollars” due to cancellations and depressed bookings.

The passenger carrier has warned its employees that this may result in significant reductions in service.

Thus far Amtrak has suspended operations of three Acela Express trains and will curtail operations in its Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania effective today.

In an announcement posted on its website, Amtrak said that in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Keystone Service will operate on a reduced schedule, with no service to the Ardmore Station.

Effective March 13 Amtrak will operate 18 daily Keystone trains (nine in each direction) along with the Pennsylvanian between New York and Pittsburgh.

All trains will remain in service on the weekend. Amtrak said this schedule reflects the “S” schedule or special schedule that Keystone Service has set for severe weather or other service disruptions.

In an email sent to Amtrak employees earlier this week, the company’s senior vice present and chief operating officer, Stephen Gardner, said the carrier has instituted “aggressive measures to cut costs.”

Gardner said future bookings are down 50 percent compared with a year ago and cancellations are up more than 300 percent.

Amtrak plans to implement a voluntary leave program for “non-mission critical employees” willing to take unpaid time off.

The passenger carrier has also said it is waiving change fees for all trip reservations made before April 30.

It is not just Amtrak that has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreaks. Airlines have reported drops in bookings and are canceling flights.

Also hit hard has been public transportation. Northestar Research Partners said a poll it conducted found that Americans are switching their travel habits from public transit to either staying home or relying more on cars to get around.

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 48 percent indicated a belief that riding public transit poses a high health risk due to the virus, and 30 percent to 40 percent said they have reduced their use of public transportation.

“People’s movement away from public transit is likely to have long-term consequences,” said Jennifer Yellin, senior vice president and co-lead of Northstar’s transportation practice.

“The implications include lost revenue for public transit authorities, which is ultimately used to upgrade and maintain systems.”

Public transit systems have stepped up cleaning of their rail cars and buses as well as stations.

Amtrak said it will disinfect trains and stations multiple times a day, and, in some cases, on an hourly basis.

Amtrak Still Operating Most Trains

March 12, 2020

Amtrak said this week that it will continue operating the bulk of its trains but is taking precautions to guard against coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The carrier said that includes increasing the cleaning of trains and stations, and stocking up on additional quantities of sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to be made available for passengers and employees.

Amtrak said it has waived change fees travel on bookings made through April 30.

Thus far the only trains that Amtrak has suspended are three Acela Express trains between New York and Washington.

In a notice posted on its website and sent out via an email blast, Amtrak said it continues to monitor the virus and is taking the advice of health experts.

Amtrak Waives Changes Fees Through April 30

March 3, 2020