News Wire Digest Second Section for Tuesday, March 24

Major transit agencies request $25 billion in federal aid; Durango & Silverton furloughs workers; medical workers ride free on Metra; and more

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•Ten major transit agencies are requesting $25 billion in federal aid to offset financial losses because of the coronavirus pandemic, as they begin to dip into emergency cash reserves to continue operation. The Washington Post reports that the agencies, led by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, sent a letter to congressional leaders with the request, saying the funding “is a matter of national interest and a core part of any national recovery.” The MTA is drawing on a $1 billion line of credit for funding, while Bay Area Rapid Transit is taking money from a $50 million reserve fund.

•The Durango & Silverton has furloughed 44 seasonal employees and 10 full-time workers and extended its closure from April 1 to May 1 “or until further notice.” The Durango Herald reports service to Silverton is scheduled to begin on May 2; while the railroad has not yet made cancellations on that date or beyond, American Heritage Railways General Manager John Harper said it is unlikely the Silverton trains will begin on that date.

•Medical personnel can ride free on Metra for the duration of Illinois’ “stay at home order,” the commuter railroad has announced. “We know it’s a small gesture but if it makes this all a little bit easier for these men and women who are bravely showing up at work every day and saving lives during this crisis, it’s the right thing to do,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a news release. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other personnel need only to present a valid work ID showing they are employed at a hospital, doctor’s office, medical facility, or local fire department.

•The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum has suspended all operations through at least April 9. Based on an order issued by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Sunday, current plans are to operate the museum’s Missionary Ridge Local on April 10. Those holding tickets through April 9 will be offered the opportunity to transfer their tickets to another date or receive a refund. Also, the Museum’s Day Out With Thomas weekends have been postponed from May to Aug. 15-16 and Aug. 22-23. More information is available online. 

•The Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pa., will trim light rail and bus service in the Pittsburgh area by about 25% as of Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, reflecting the state’s stay-at-home order and a 50% drop in ridership over the last two weeks.

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