It’s hard to know how thin the ice is under Amtrak’s president and CEO, Richard Anderson.
Maybe I missed it, but no one on the Amtrak board of directors appears to have uttered any words of praise for Anderson’s job performance, even off the record. That’s interesting. If the board is happy with Anderson, but he’s being battered by a lot of criticism, we could expect to see the board chair, Anthony Coscia, on the 6:00 News saying nice things about Anderson. If, on the other hand, they’re not happy with Anderson—especially if they could be thinking about replacing him—it would be best to say nothing.
Since coming aboard as Amtrak’s CEO, Anderson hasn’t made many friends. He initiated a series of cost-cutting moves which have provoked a steady drumbeat of criticism. Speaking personally, I can never forgive his decision to pull the Pacific Parlour Cars out of service permanently, turning the Coast Starlight into just another train.
And, most recently, by removing the traditional full-service dining cars from the Lake Shore and the Capitol Limited, Anderson has taken away the one unique and enjoyable experience that only an Amtrak long-distance train offers.
On most days, we can fly from Boston to Chicago for $100. Does Richard Anderson ever wonder why we’ll pay $500 for a roomette on the Lake Shore Limited instead?
We take the Zephyr or the Lake Shore or the Meteor instead of Delta or JetBlue because we find much pleasure in the experience. Just a few years ago, that included small chilled bottles of cheap champagne when we boarded and a newspaper slipped under the door of our roomette early the next morning. And, by God, it sure as hell includes a full-service dining car.
Anderson thinks it’s the steak that keeps us coming back. It’s not … it’s the sizzle!