Amtrak’s bookings have plummeted and cancellations have increased amid fears about the coronavirus, and the company told its employees Wednesday to expect “major cuts” in train service and voluntary, unpaid leave.
Gardner said in an email on Wednesday that bookings are down 50%, while cancelations are up 300%.
“Our bookings and revenue have declined sharply over the past few weeks, both on the Northeast Corridor and across the national network,” Gardner wrote. “These reductions have accelerated in recent days and are likely to continue for some time.”
So far, Amtrak has only canceled three nonstop Acela trains on the Northeast Corridor, out of the hundreds of trains it operates nationwide each day, in response to reduced demand. Gardner told staff that further cuts were coming and that those deemed “non-mission critical” would be asked to voluntarily take unpaid time off.
“You should expect significant reductions in train service across portions of our network in response to the sharp drop in ridership,” Gardner wrote.
“At this rate, we believe we will likely suffer the loss of several hundred million dollars in revenue during this fiscal year,” Gardner wrote, “and we might lose more.”
Amtrak waives adjustment fees on reservations made until April 30. The railroad also increases the frequency of cleaning on its trains and platforms and provides customers and staff with more hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.