Amtrak may be feeling the squeeze, but Senator Chuck Schumer doesn’t think passengers should.
After news that the rail system is considering tighter economy-style seating to pack in more passengers, Schumer slammed the idea on Sunday, saying that the move would be taking a page straight from the airline playbook.
“Amtrak should not throw out one of the best things about Amtrak and train travel — that is, you at least get a seat you can sit in and be comfortable,” Schumer said.
Amtrak co-chief executive Wick Moorman announced last week that the company was studying the new seating idea as a way to save money. The train system yearly receives billions of dollars from the government to make up for financial losses.
Schumer acknowledged that Amtrak is in need of creative ways to generate revenue, but encouraged officials to find more constructive cost-cutting measures.
Amtrak “has been shortchanged by the federal government for a very long time,” Schumer said. “I understand that they need to make money, but not with things that are counterproductive like this.”
Schumer added that the seating change could lead to more uncomfortable burdens that passengers have to shoulder.
A spokesman for Amtrak said no plans for a seat change have been finalized.
“Amtrak is not currently looking to change its seat spacing for the services we now offer,” spokesman Mike Tolbert said. “Like any company, we do continuously look at ways to attract new customers, provide more travel options and enhance the customer experience in order to supplement the great products and services we already offer.”
Aging infrastructure combined with booming ridership has created increasing strain on Amtrak — especially along the Northeast Corridor, which carries 750,000 riders a day.
Amtrak is in the middle of renovations at Penn Station that will costs tens of millions of dollars, and plans to construct an additional two-track tunnel running under the Hudson River will run to nearly $13 billion.