NYSDOT, Amtrak Announce Cost-Share Agreement

Deal Includes Program to Measure Performance

ALBANY, NY (10/03/2013)(readMedia)-- New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman today announced 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 (PRIIA). PRIIA Section 209 calls for states to share the costs of Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles. The agreement signals the start of a new partnership between New York State and Amtrak, with the shared goal of improving all aspects of service for riders.

"With this agreement, we are working with Amtrak to ensure that New Yorkers continue to have reliable, efficient, and affordable rail service," said Commissioner McDonald. "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."

"Today's announcement underscores the importance of Amtrak service to our partners in New York, and we are pleased these vital services will continue to help the communities grow and prosper," said President Boardman. "The New York State-supported service, which connects to the Amtrak national system and across the border into Canada, provides mobility, connectivity, economic development and jobs to the state."

Under the agreement, New York State will pay approximately $22 million in federal fiscal year 2014 to cover operating and capital costs associated with four rail lines: the Empire, Adirondack, Maple Leaf and Ethan Allen. New York has already completed a separate agreement to share costs with Vermont on the Ethan Allen, which carries passengers between Albany and Rutland, Vt. New York will pay 35% of the Ethan Allen's costs, which is estimated to be about $800,000, in federal fiscal year 2014.

The agreement supports one of Amtrak's busiest corridors, including seven daily round trips between Penn Station and Albany, two daily round trips between Penn Station and Niagara Falls, and one daily round trip each between Penn Station and Toronto, Montreal and Rutland.

The 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 approximately $100 million per year to operate these 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.