Transit agencies seek $32 billion in additional federal aid (updated)

News Wire Digest for May 9: Some suspended Amtrak trains to resume June 1; rail accident in India kills 16
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A Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line train heads toward downtown from O'Hare Airport. The CTA is among agencies asking for $32 billion in federal aid.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Saturday morning rail news:

— Chief executives of 15 major transit agencies, including New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles Metro, and the Chicago Transit Authority, have written leaders in both houses of Congress to request $32 billion in emergency aid to help address the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their letter says that since these agencies received aid under the first coronavirus aid package passed in March, “a fuller picture has emerged of … losses from dedicated transportation revenue streams, such as farebox, sales taxes, motor fuel taxes, tolls, mortgage-related taxes and other user fees.” Those funding sources have taken “a massive hit,” the letter says. “Our systems will not be able to support the regions we serve without replenishing those losses. Our regions cannot recover without public transportation, and the nation cannot recover without resurgent economies in our regions.” Other executives co-signing the letter represent the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Agency, King County (Wash.) Metro, Sound Transit, NJ Transit, Atlanta’s MARTA, Miami-Dade (Fla.) Department of Transportation and Public Works, BART, San Francisco Muni, SEPTA, Washington D.C.’s WMATA, and Cincinnati’s Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

— Some of Amtrak's suspended state-supported passenger trains — Keystone Service, the Pennsylvanian, the Carolinian, and the Pere Marquette — are set to resume service as of June 1. Amtrak has made no formal announcement of the resumption of service, but tickets for all those trains are available as of June 1 on the passenger carrier's website. Keystone Service, which normally operates from New York City and offered 13 weekday route trips prior to suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic, will operate only on the Philadelphia-Harrisburg, Pa., portion of its route, offering nine round trips. That service has been suspended since March 18; the  daily New York-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian has been suspended since March 19. Also now available for ticketing are the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Mich., Pere Marquette, suspended since March 19, and the New York-Charlotte, N.C., Carolinian, suspended since April 6.

— Sixteen migrant workers were killed Friday in India when hit by a train as they walked along the tracks in Aurangabad in the state of Maharashtra. The victims were part of a group in the early stages of a planned walk of more than 500 miles to their home state after losing their jobs because of India’s COVID-19 lockdown. Most public transportation has been shut down since March 24 because of the nation’s strict lockdown. The victims were hit by a freight train about 5 a.m. local time. The nation’s railway ministry is investigating, the Hindustan Times reports.

— Updated at 10:05 a.m. CDT on May 8 to include information on Pere Marquette, Carolinian ticket sales.


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