Amtrak, New York reach cost sharing agreement

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ALBANY, N.Y. – The New York State Department and Amtrak have reached an agreement on cost sharing for most Amtrak routes in the state, as required by the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.

“This agreement represents a significant state investment in rail service, which thousands of travelers and businesses rely on each day to help keep New Yorkers moving. I want to thank Amtrak for their collaboration and commitment to this effort,” NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald says.

Under the agreement, New York state will pay about $22 million in federal fiscal year 2014 to cover operating and capital costs associated with four routes: the Empire Service, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, and Ethan Allen. New York has already completed a separate agreement to share costs with Vermont on the Ethan Allen, which operates between Albany and Rutland, Vt. New York will pay 35 percent of the Ethan Allen’s costs, which is estimated to be about $800,000, in federal fiscal year 2014.

The agreement supports seven daily round trips between New York Penn Station and Albany, two daily round trips between New York and Niagara Falls, and one daily round trip each between New York and Toronto, Montreal, and Rutland.

State funding will pay for operating costs associated with the lines, including fuel and labor costs. The funds will also cover costs for the repair and maintenance of Amtrak’s equipment. Amtrak and NYSDOT have established a budget committee to review and approve maintenance costs for the Hudson line between Schenectady and Poughkeepsie.

It costs Amtrak about $100 million per year to operate the four routes. The $22 million state share helps make up the difference between revenues and Amtrak’s operational costs.

This agreement also requires New York and Amtrak to establish performance measures for the state-supported Amtrak service. The program will measure several different criteria, including on-time performance of trains, cleanliness of the trains and Amtrak-operated facilities, and customer service delivered by the crew. Amtrak and NYSDOT will develop metrics for the performance program over the next 90 days, which will include incentives for meeting and exceeding the agreed-upon standards. The first year of the program will be used to create a baseline for future years. The states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont will also be establishing identical programs.
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