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It's a move Stephen Sayles, president of Florida Coalition of Rail Passengers, says is a mistake, especially if it becomes permanent.
"I think that it would hurt Florida, it would hurt the economy," said Sayles. "I think there are people who count on these daily trains."
Sayles is also a board member of the organization Friends of Tampa Union Station
"Our goal is to utilize Tampa Union Station a lot more than it has been," he said.
Instead, Amtrak tells Spectrum Bay News 9 it is operating at reduced capacity.
"If you don’t have a daily train for people to depend on, you’re going to go ahead and lose ridership," said Sayles.
That's why the organization he's part of is taking its message to social media to increase ridership, specifically on Facebook.
Amtrak tells Spectrum Bay News 9 the change is because of Coronavirus.
"Due to the long-term impact of Covid-19 on ridership, Amtrak has made the decision to operate with reduced capacity through FY21. As we have already made adjustments in the Northeast from DC – Boston and state-supported services, the next adjustment is with our long-distance trains like the Silver Star and Silver Meteor, said Kimberly Woods, with Amtrak Corporate Communication.
"Our goal is to restore daily service on these routes as demand warrants, potentially by the summer of 2021."
Sayles isn't convinced.
"I don’t believe that their intentions are just because of the pandemic, my hunch is they’re using that as an excuse to start cutting back," said Sayles.
"Can still do the best you can as far as under the rules and keep everybody moving."
Woods detailed the new schedule and other changes:
The Silver Meteor and Silver Star are operating on alternating days—offering one daily train between New York and Miami.
This change in service began on July 6.
For the Silver Meteor:
Southbound Train #97 will depart New York on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Northbound Train #98 will depart Miami on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
For the Silver Star:
Southbound Train #91 will depart New York on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Northbound Train #92 will depart Miami on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Both trains will offer expanded capacity for each departure:
Five fully-refreshed Amfleet II Coach cars—offering new seating cushions, carpets, curtains, LED reading lights and ample space for physical distancing
Three Viewliner Sleeping Cars—offering customers the option to book a private Bedroom or Roomette for their trip
One Amfleet Café Car—offering meals, snacks and beverages for sale
One Viewliner II Sleeper Lounge—an exclusive space for customers in private rooms, offering complimentary flexible dining service
Daily service to Tampa will be offered via the Silver Star or the Amtrak Thruway bus connection to the Silver Meteor in Orlando
Additional daily service will be offered between New York and Savanah, GA (and intermediate points) on the Palmetto, between New York and Raleigh, NC (and intermediate points) on the Carolinian and between the Washington, DC and Orlando areas on the Auto Train.
This article first appeared on www.baynews9.com
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