When it comes to the most expensive car in the world, it is only a matter of time before the U.S. gets a little more expensive, as the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) moves toward rolling out a national program that will allow more than 400,000 drivers to ride the rails.
“The Federal Transit system is not designed for the average commuter,” said Michael Grosz, chief executive officer of the Federal Railroad Administration.
“So there’s going to be a lot of drivers that we’re going to see getting a lot more frequent service and getting a little less frequent service.”
The first phase of the National Rail Transportation System, known as NRTS, was announced in April, and the FTA announced this week that the program would be expanded to more than 1 million drivers on the rail system, including those who work for public transportation.
The new program will allow passengers who use Amtrak or other railroads to pay the same fare as an average commuter who uses a different line or ride a bus.
The FTA is offering a $1,200 surcharge for each additional rider.
Drivers who already use Amtrak will pay an additional $100 per day.
Riders who work on the train will pay $400 per day, for a total of $1.3 billion over the next five years.
The fare for drivers on public transportation, as opposed to rail, is also higher, at $2,100.
Drives who use a bus will pay a $200 surfeit per day for every ride.
Riders will pay more if they are a rider who works in the bus system.
The surcharge is not applicable for rail riders, who will pay the full fare.
“The new program is designed to encourage greater use of rail,” said Ryan O’Brien, FTA chief information officer.
“Drivers will be able to choose how much they want to pay to use a particular line.”
The system will also help to attract more drivers who might otherwise avoid using the rails altogether, and will help the FTA get more passengers on the trains, O’Briensaid.
The agency will start offering discounted rides in 2020, and it is expanding its rail-centric program to include buses, ferries and light rail.
“It will be a great boost to the nation’s transportation system and we are excited about the possibilities,” said Grossz.
The first part of the NRTS program will begin in 2019, when the FTA will begin providing free rides on Amtrak trains for drivers who already drive.
A second phase of NRTS will begin this summer, and then it will expand to include light rail and buses in 2020.
For the next four years, the NRTs will allow drivers to pay $1 for every 100 miles traveled.
That means drivers can pay about $9 a day for their trips, about half of the cost for drivers currently driving for Amtrak.
“This program is an investment in the safety of our nation’s drivers and we appreciate the federal government working with us to expand the program and increase the cost of this essential service,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The FTA says that if ridership exceeds its current goal, riders could pay the surcharge by the end of 2021.
If ridership falls below the goal, the agency will adjust the price.