07.14.22

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND CALL FOR THE REOPENING OF AMTRAK’S ADIRONDACK LINE TO HELP REVITALIZE NORTH COUNTRY ECONOMY

Today, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called on Amtrak to reopen the Adirondack line, the upstate rail service between Montreal and New York City that has been suspended for more than two years due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The Adirondack line provides critical service for New York State’s North Country, connecting residents with larger economic centers such as New York’s Capital Region, New York City, and Montreal. Senator Gillibrand is concerned that further delays in the resumption of services, such as those due to the requalification of train and engine crews, would hurt the North Country’s economy as the state rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Adirondack line provides critical service for New York State’s North Country, connecting residents with larger economic centers such as New York’s Capital Region, New York City, and Montreal. The senators are concerned that further delays in the resumption of services, such as those due to the requalification of train and engine crews, would hurt the North Country’s economy as the state rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are aware of the challenges that Amtrak and public transportation agencies have faced and are continuing to face due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, including low ridership levels and supply chain issues,” said the letter. “As shown through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress is willing and able to assist in helping public transportation agencies return to normal service, and if possible, expand. However, Amtrak must ensure that the Adirondack and other suspended lines do not face unnecessary delays due to its impact to the region.”

In FY19, the last full fiscal year before the pandemic impacted the State of New York, Amtrak’s Adirondack line had 117,490 riders, a 5.1 percent increase in ridership compared to FY18. The rail service also provides tourists traveling from economic centers such as New York’s Capital Region, New York City, and Montreal with access to the North Country, boosting the region’s economy. In 2020, tourism accounted for 44.7 percent of employment in Hamilton County, 36.8 percent in Essex County, and over 16 percent in the Adirondack region as a whole.

Read the full letter below

Dear Mr. Gardner:

We write to you to express our concern regarding the resumption of Amtrak’s Adirondack line. This line is essential to the economy of the North Country region of New York and it is imperative that Amtrak resumes its operation as soon as is safe and feasible.

First, we were happy to see that Amtrak reopened full service on the Maple Leaf line on June 27. Ontario is a vital economic partner with New York, and this line has and will continue to serve as an essential conduit for economic and cultural relations.

While the Maple Leaf service resumption announcement was extremely heartening and we understand the challenges that Amtrak faces in reopening service lines, we hoped to see additional, similar news regarding the Adirondack line. This line provides critical service to the residents of New York’s North Country, connecting them to large economic centers such as New York’s Capital Region, New York City, and Montreal. And though the users of other lines generally have alternative modes of transportation that can mitigate the impact of a line suspension, the residents of the North Country have few.

In Fiscal Year 2019, the last full fiscal year before the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Adirondack saw 117,490 riders, an increase of 5.1 percent compared to FY18. This is a large economic driver in the community, as total tourism accounts for over 16 percent of the Adirondack region’s share of employment in 2020. Hamilton and Essex counties depend on tourism heavily, with 44.7 and 36.8 percent of all employment sustained by visitors respectively.

Recently, it has come to our attention that train and engine crews for the Adirondack line will begin requalification in August. Any delays in the resumption of service would be detrimental to the local economy, especially with some residents lacking alternative methods of transportation. In light of these concerns, we ask that you please provide responses, no later than July 15, 2022, to the following questions:

  1. What is the current timeline for return to service on the Adirondack line?
  2. What steps is Amtrak taking in order to ensure that the Adirondack line returns to service promptly in the summer months?
  3. What challenges with the Government of Canada need to be resolved in order for the Adirondack line to begin service across the border?
  4. What steps can Congress take in order to assist the prompt return of the Adirondack line?

We are aware of the challenges that Amtrak and public transportation agencies have faced and are continuing to face due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, including low ridership levels and supply chain issues. As shown through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress is willing and able to assist in helping public transportation agencies return to normal service and, if possible, expand. However, Amtrak must ensure that the Adirondack and other suspended lines do not face unnecessary delays due to its impact to the region.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

###

 



Previous Article Next Article