Guidelines for Amtrak’s Next Boss.
The question is already being asked: Who will replace Joe Boardman as Amtrak’s big boss? A number of specific names have already been put forth by industry columnists and, probably as we speak, Jim Mathews, president and CEO of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) is compiling a list of qualities and attributes NARP thinks the new guy ought to possess.
Of course, I have my own thoughts about that and, though I have no knowledge of what the Mathews list will look like, I’m sure it will be longer and much more businesslike in both subject matter and presentation. Nevertheless, here’s mine:
1- A commitment—firm and unshakable—to preserve and ultimately expand the national network.
2- A willingness to respectfully but firmly stand up to Amtrak’s detractors in Congress and, without apology, to seek increased federal support for expanding and improving the system. (I’ll waive “respectfully” when addressing Congressman Mica.)
3- An awareness that Amtrak’s front-line employees all have the same complaint: “I know how do to things better, but nobody listens to me.” So listen to them!
4- And a recognition that sleeping car passengers are paying top dollar and for that they’re entitled to a good experience start to finish, which means a full-service dining car on all overnight trains.
Now that’s not too much to ask, is it?
To succeed, the next CEO must start with these characteristics:
1) To come out of railroad operations, preferably with a solid understanding and experience in passenger services.
2) Bring meaning back to the terms of “responsibility” and “accountability” throughout the organization.
3) Determine where labor contracts can be opened and re-negotiated.
4) Advise and inform Congress how the national system is to work.
4) request a full audit and accountability of expenses re projects/overruns.
5) Turn 180 degrees from the penny-pinching mentality, and add first class, and coach enhancements.
6) Stop ignoring inroads by curbside bus firms and compete head-on.
7) Re-format board of directors membership from political appointees to include those who would truly be stewards of the organization.