Healthcare

Amtrak to cut service as employees refuse vaccines

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Amtrak will cut services, and riders will experience slowdowns beginning this winter, in part as a result of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, the company’s president told members of Congress on Thursday.

Amtrak President Stephen Gardner warned the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee about the potential delays during a hearing.

Gardner said 95 percent of employees at the transportation company were at least partially vaccinated, but added that if the remaining 5 percent don’t get vaccine shots by the mandate’s Jan. 4 deadline, Amtrak would need to reduce some services “to avoid staffing related cancelations.”

“We anticipate proactively needing to temporarily reduce some train frequencies,” he said, with a plan to restore all services by March.

In August, Amtrak announced it would require all of its employees to get vaccinated or face weekly testing.

The following month, President Biden signed an executive order mandating that all federal workers be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. He later moved the deadline to Jan. 4.

That mandate is temporarily halted following a ruling from a federal judge in Georgia on Tuesday.

Currently, Amtrak has restored about 70 percent of its ridership levels after a lull caused by the pandemic, Gardner told lawmakers.

Asked about the testimony, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the White House does not expect the requirements to cause disruptions to essential services. She noted that there is still roughly a month before the mandate’s Jan. 4 deadline.

“We don’t expect these requirements will cause disruptions to services that people depend on,” Psaki said during a briefing. “There is some time to implement it. We are of course working with all federal contractors and federal employees and parts of the federal government to implement this going forward.”

Tags Amtrak D.C. District of Columbia federal contractors federal vaccine mandate Jen Psaki Joe Biden Stephen Gardner transportation vaccine mandate Washington

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