Amtrak Cuts Back Passenger Trains To Tampa
For the first time since the days of Henry Plant in the 19th century, there's no daily train service to Tampa.
Amtrak's cuts to the schedule started Monday. Lakeland, which is on the same route, is also affected.
Blaming the pandemic's deleterious affect on travel, Amtrak reduced the Silver Star's schedule from every day to only three days per week. Unlike some other areas of the state, Tampa has no regional rail and relies on long distance trains such as the New York-to-Miami Silver Star, says Jackson McQuigg, founder and board member of Friends of Tampa Union Station. He says the cuts are part of a trend.
"We're down to three days a week from -- as recently as the mid 1990s -- four trains a day," McQuigg says. "So the pattern here is extremely concerning."
McQuigg says Amtrak has been decreasing its support for long distance rail.
"COVID-19 has provided Amtrak's management with the incentive to make big changes to the national network and potentially reduce its service on the long distance trains," McQuigg says, "and that puts places like Tampa and Lakeland into a severe bind."
Amtrak says the cuts are temporary. Kimberly Woods, with Amtrak Corporate Communications, says "our goal is to restore daily service to these routes as demand warrants, potentially by the summer of 2021."
Amtrak is providing a bus to Orlando to meet the Silver Meteor, which has also been reduced from daily service to four times per week.