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Amtrak Reducing Schedule; Closing Valley Stations’ Lobbies

MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY — COVID-19 is impacting all modes of travel — including rail. Amtrak announced Tuesday its trains will offer reduced service beginning later this week — “due to the drop in ridership and revenue, while also maintaining appropriate social distancing abilities aboard the trains.”

“The San Joaquins Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) and Amtrak are working closely with local, state and federal public health agencies to monitor the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely,” said an Amtrak press release issued today. “To focus resources on essential transportation functions,” Amtrak plans to close station lobbies in Fresno, Hanford, Merced and Modesto, said a press release issued today.

Amtrak authorities said all trains will continue to stop at stations where lobbies are closed. Updated timetables are available at: www.AmtrakSanJoaquins.com.

Tickets can be purchased via amtraksanjoaquins.com, Amtrak Mobile App, 1-800-USA-RAIL and onboard from the conductor with cash.

As of Monday (March 23), Amtrak San Joaquins ridership was down approximately 70 percent, according to a press release issued by Amtrak Tuesday.

According to Tuesday’s release: “To help contain costs and continue to operate essential transportation services for our riders, Amtrak will be making the following operational adjustments, beginning Thursday, March 26, 2020:

  • Train Service Suspensions: Due to reduced demand, Amtrak San Joaquins trains 701, 702, 703, 704, 714, and 717 will be suspended. We’ve reduced trains with lowest ridership to mitigate the effects on riders still needing to utilize service for essential travel. The suspensions eliminate all direct train service to Lodi and Sacramento. Lodi and Sacramento will continue to be served by Thruway Busses to/from all operating trains.
  • Suspension of Café Car Service: To eliminate risks from food handling and reduce unnecessary onboard passenger movement, Café Car Service will be suspended. Emergency snack packs and water will be distributed to riders free of charge. SJJPA and Amtrak encourage passengers to prepare ahead of time to bring their own food and drinks.
  • Reduction in Thruway Bus Service: Amtrak San Joaquins will be suspending all connecting Thruway Bus services to trains that are being suspended. Additionally, Thruway routes with multiple round-trips that are currently underutilized due to the reduction in ridership will be reduced.”

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the COVID-19 crisis has “crushed the finances of Amtrak just as the company approached profitability, and the national railroad is now banking on a $1 billion bailout from Congress to stay afloat.”

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