A Few Ideas for Amtrak’s New Boss.
It’s been raining like hell for days in our little corner of Maui and the To-Do list that my “supervisor” compiles for me is getting longer by the day. My priorities during this stretch of unsettled weather have been to watch the Red Sox games and to wonder about the future of Amtrak under the leadership of its new boss, Wick Moorman. I now have a list of things I’d like to see happen or start to happen during his tenure. Please try not to laugh.
1. Launch a concerted and aggressive effort with Congress to find a permanent and dedicated source of adequate funding for Amtrak.
2. Fix Amtrak’s accounting system so it provides a clear separation between the Northeast Corridor and the national system in order to put an end to the canard that the NEC is profitable and the long-distance trains are big money-losers.
3. Beg, borrow or steal the money for new equipment for the long-distance trains: coaches, sleepers, diners and lounge cars. And I mean REAL lounge cars, reserved for sleeping car passengers and similar to the Pacific Parlour Cars on the Coast Starlight. Many people—I am one of them—ride that train because of the parlor cars and people will do the same on other overnight trains if similar lounge cars are part of the consist.
4. Improve the dining experience on the long-distance trains by bringing back real china; giving the chefs more latitude to offer regional dishes; and add one or two more staff to make it work.
5. Provide a daily train between New Orleans and Orlando and upgrade both the Sunset Limited and the Cardinal to daily service.
6. As additional equipment and funding becomes available (see item 1), resume service on routes that Amtrak has abandoned (the Desert Wind and the Pioneer); restore some of the popular traditional routes (Chicago-Florida); and add frequencies on heavily traveled routes like Boston/New York to Chicago.
7. Stop making nice and start being aggressive with the idiots in Congress who mindlessly oppose passenger rail. Most especially, stand up to idiot-in-chief, John Mica. We are right and they are wrong!
OK, Wick . . . go getum!