MIPRC asks Congress to provide Amtrak $1 billion in COVID-19 emergency relief

March 22, 2020

MIPRC today sent a letter to Midwestern members of Congress in support of Amtrak’s request for $1 billion in emergency funding for this fiscal year – including $200 million to offset state losses – and include it in the latest COVID-19 relief/stimulus bill currently being negotiated.

“We are writing today to urgently ask you to support Amtrak’s request for $1 billion in emergency funding for this fiscal year – including $200 million to offset state losses – and include it in the stimulus bill currently being negotiated,” the letter states.

“Passenger rail is an increasingly important mode of transportation to our region. Ridership on the Midwest’s state-supported corridor services rose 14 percent over the ten years from Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2009 to FFY 2019, and ridership on the region’s long-distance trains rose five percent in the same period.”

“Now, due to the COVID-19 crisis, many of our states that financially support Amtrak routes are witnessing ridership reductions of more than 50 percent. In our region, we have had to significantly cut – and for some routes, temporarily suspend entirely – our current corridor service.” (See Amtrak’s announcement about Midwestern service cuts here.)

As the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed all but essential travel, Amtrak’s ask is to help make up for “’unprecedented’ ridership losses, with future bookings down 80% year-over-year and cancellations up more than 400%,” according to Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune.

MIPRC’s letter was sent via email on Saturday, March 21.