April 10 (UPI) -- Passenger railroad service Amtrak will receive more than $1 billion as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Friday.
Chao said funding to the Federal Railroad Administration, the agency that operates Amtrak within the Transportation Department, will be used to pay for employees, construction project materials and fuel and offset lost ticket revenue.
"This $1 billion in federal emergency assistance to Amtrak will help maintain service for its passengers when the economy recovers," Chao said in a statement.
Amtrak is a company that receives state and federal subsidies but is managed as a for-profit operation. It serves 46 states and cities in three Canadian provinces, with medium and long-distance intercity train travel. Although about 87,000 passengers use Amtrak daily, it has seen a 90 percent decline in ridership and future ticket sales since the pandemic arrived in the United States.
The new funding includes $492 million for the Northeast Corridor, which includes the high-speed Acela Express between Boston and Washington that's been halted. Another $526 million will pay for National Network Grants, the agency's mechanism for maintenance and upgrades.
Some funding will mitigate the cost impact in 28 states that subsidize Amtrak.
"This funding will help ensure that Amtrak is able to quickly return to service supporting both the public's transportation mobility needs, and America's economic recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency," FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said.