Amtrak expects to temporarily cut some service next month as it warns of possible labor shortages due to the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate which requires employees of government contractors to be fully jabbed by January 4th.
Bloomberg News reports:
As Amtrak prepares to comply with the federal vaccine mandate, it will likely need to temporarily reduce frequency, particularly on its long-distance services, Stephen J. Gardner, president of Amtrak, said in written testimony for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing. About 94% of the rail company’s workers have been fully vaccinated as of this week. […] The problem is most acute on multi-day routes, where crew bases at some intermediate points have relatively lower rates of vaccinated employees.
“Achieving full service levels, while complying with the vaccination requirement and continuing to prioritize the safety of our customers and employees, is our goal,” Gardner testified.
Some Republican lawmakers expressed frustration with the impending labor shortages due to the vaccine mandate.
“Amtrak just got about $60 billion in new funding, but now President Biden’s vaccine mandates are spurring new worker shortages and service cuts, thwarting recovery from historic Amtrak losses last year,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) stated. “Taxpayers will be paying more money for less service.”
In addition to the mandate, Amtrak faces a staffing crunch due to a lack of human resource managers tasked with hiring new employees, according to the company’s Office of Inspector General report published Thursday.
Amtrak hopes to boost its workforce by over 2o% through October 2022.