We’re not customers, we’re travelers!
Think for a minute about the last flight you took. What do you remember about that experience? Anything? If it was anything like my most recent flight, there was probably nothing memorable or special about it.
And therein lies the difference between choosing to fly or taking one of Amtrak’s long-distance trains.
People fly because they’re in a hurry and because what’s passing below holds no particular interest for them. Someone flying first class gets a comfortable seat, a meal and a complimentary alcoholic beverage. If you’re in economy class . . . well, forget it. And, for reasons I cannot fathom, the airlines all refer to us as customers.
By contrast, passengers on one of Amtrak’s long-distance western trains are on a journey that could last for two nights. Seats in sleeping car accommodations convert to reasonably comfortable berths. And meals are served in a dining car where we’re seated at tables conversing with other passengers.
People who take the time to travel by long-distance trains are interested in the cities and towns and the countryside through which they’re passing. We are not customers and we’re more than passengers. We’re travelers!
If Amtrak’s national network is going to be here for the long term, the long-distance trains will have to increase ridership. To do that, Richard Anderson had better understand that his trains must appeal to travelers.
And here’s the thing: to keep the travelers he’s got and to attract more travelers, Mr. Anderson had damn well better reverse course and see to it that Amtrak once again provides the amenities that we travelers want: clean windows, good service, and good food provided in full-service dining cars.
Because we’re travelers, dammit … and that’s why we ride his trains!