December 22, 2020 - TRA Newswire / Rail Passengers Association -

Congress has finally passed emergency coronavirus funding bill that will prevent further service cuts and layoffs at Amtrak and other U.S. transit agencies. The relief package includes $1 billion for Amtrak and $14 billion for mass transit. It passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 omnibus budget legislation (HR 133), which includes another $2.8 billion in rail funding and $13 billion for the Federal Transit Administration.

The relief funds in brief:

Amtrak - National Network: $344.6 million to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus; $174.9 million of this money to be made available to Amtrak in lieu of Section 209 payments from states to Amtrak for State-supported corridors.

Amtrak - General Provisions: Congress specified that funds granted to Amtrak are to prevent further employee furloughs, or the further reductions in frequencies on long distance trains; employees placed on furlough shall be entitled when recalled to the same seniority and job classification that they held prior to being furloughed when intercity passenger service is restored; Amtrak is prohibited from contracting out any services that were performed by a furloughed worker.

Mass Transit: $14 billion for Transit Infrastructure Grants, of which no recipient may receive more than $4 billion from this act when combined with money received in the CARES Act; $50 of which will go to paratransit providers; and $678.7 million to be set aside be for rural transit providers.