There Has To Be a Better way!

We have had friends visiting with us for the past three days … a Norwegian couple I met a few years back on the train from Moscow to Beijing. We’re located in an area of Maui known as “upcountry” . . . that is, it’s rural and off the beaten path as far as tourists are concerned. They were interested in seeing this part of the island, but left here today to spend another three days in a much more typical Hawaiian setting on the opposite side of Maui at a wonderful small hotel smack on one of the best beaches in all of the Hawaiian Islands.
To facilitate that, they needed a car, so we took them to the Maui airport to pick up a rental car which had been previously reserved. We arrived at the rental car company at about 1:45 p.m.; they finally drove out of the parking lot en route to their hotel near Lahaina around 3:30. Elapsed time: almost two hours which was spent standing in a long line waiting for someone to handle the paperwork and give them the keys to their Ford Focus.
Good heavens! Somehow … some way … there must be some way to avoid a mess like that! 

In addition to a couple of comments which I’ve posted, I have received additional emails about Amtrak eliminating French Toast from the breakfast menu in their dining cars. My wife doesn’t see this as an issue. I do, especially if it’s being done to save money. If that’s the case, it’s just one more example of trying to balance the books on the backs of sleeping car passengers … the people who are already paying more than their fare share. I’ll do what I can to find out why this change is being made from an appropriate person at Amtrak.

There’s a problem, however, at least in my mind: I’m no longer sure we can believe what we’re told, even by senior people at Amtrak. (Or maybe I should say especially by senior Amtrak people.) Case in point: at NARP’s annual Fall meeting in Indianapolis, an Amtrak official told us it appears that sleeping car passengers are happy to get lower fares on the Silver Star, even if the trade-off is no dining car on the train and simple meals have to be purchased and microwaved in a cafe car.
I hate to say it, but I think that’s B.S. For one thing, recent figures indicate that the Star is now carrying fewer sleeping car passengers than it did before the diners were taken off that train.
Over the years, we at NARP have confined our concerns and criticisms of Amtrak to private communication on the theory that there were plenty of others willing and even eager to bash the railroad in public. But we’re now beginning to feel that it’s not a two-way street …. that the powers-that-be at Amtrak are not always being straight with us, even if it’s off-the-record.
At any rate, I’ll do what I can to find out about the switch from French Toast to pancakes.