“We believe the vaccine offers the best way to keep our employees safe and contribute to the wellness of local communities,” the statement said.
As of Monday, about 100 of Amtrak’s 16,500 employees had received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the company. That number could grow quickly as jurisdictions begin to add essential transportation workers to their lists of people eligible for vaccinations.
Amtrak is giving a bonus, the equivalent of two hours of pay, to those who get vaccinated, the company said. The company is also offering paid time off for workers to get vaccinated during work hours and will excuse absences due to any side effects.
The benefit comes as the railroad is trying to restore confidence in rail travel and rebound from the worst financial crisis in its 50-year history. The company has seen plunging revenue because of declines in ticket sales during the coronavirus pandemic. Ridership plummeted by 97 percent at the onset of the pandemic and remains down 75 percent compared with a year ago.
Major grocery chains have announced similar incentives, such as flexible work schedules, paid time off to visit a vaccination site and bonuses of up to $200. Among those companies are Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Lidl and Instacart.
“Recognizing the vaccine offers the best way to protect ourselves, loved ones, co-workers, we are doing our best to ensure all employees have vaccine access while delivering a new standard of travel for our customers,” Amtrak said in a statement.