The Wall Street Journal
Published: May 26, 2020 at 10:27 p.m. ET
Railroad’s ridership, revenue have plummeted amid pandemic
Travelers walk in the lobby at Union Station in Washington, D.C., in this file photo.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — Amtrak is preparing to cut up to 20% of its workforce in the next fiscal year as the national railroad continues to suffer from a huge decline in ridership as the coronavirus pandemic brought most travel to a halt.
Ridership and ticket revenue at the company have fallen by 95% since the pandemic began, Chief Executive Bill Flynn told Amtrak workers in an internal memo on Tuesday.
While Amtrak is planning to slowly restart some service halted during the lockdown — including the Washington-to-Boston Acela express service on June 1 — the company projects ridership in 2021 will rebound to just half of what it was before the crisis.
“This may sound easy, but the climb back will be hard,” Flynn wrote. To return to even half of the railroad’s past ridership will require “substantial growth over the next 16 months, and it will have to be achieved against a backdrop of stunning unemployment, socio-economic dislocation and a potential recession,” he wrote.
Amtrak employs more than 18,000 people nationwide. It plans to make the job cuts by October, the memo said, the start of Amtrak’s 2021 fiscal year.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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