Do More for the People in Sleepers.
Sleeping car passengers generate a disproportionate amount of revenue for Amtrak and, therefore, it would seem to me that an obvious way for Amtrak to generate much-needed additional revenue is to attract more of these folks.Let me begin by quoting a time-worn adage, which has been proven true time and time again:
You can’t cut your way to prosperity.
But goaded by Congress, Amtrak has tried doing exactly that over the past several years. (I admit my analysis is anecdotal and based on personal experience plus conversations with other sleeping car passengers.)
The Amtrak brain trust has to understand that it’s just not good enough for sleeping car passengers to step off the train at their destinations saying, “Well, that was nice.” They ought to say, “That was a memorable experience!” and be talking about another long-distance train ride next year.
It seems to me that the difference between “nice” and” Coast Starlight, California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited,Lake Shore Limited, wonderful” are the little extras that Amtrak has eliminated over the past few years, all in the name of cost cutting.
— Finding two small chilled bottles of inexpensive champagne in your bedroom when you board the Sunset Limited.
— Finding a souvenir coffee mug in your roomette when you board the Coast Starlight at Davis, California, for the ride down to Los Angeles.
— Waking up on the Empire Builder to discover that a copy of the Minot Daily News was slipped under the door of your roomette in the wee hours of the morning.
— Finding real china on a white tablecloth when you enter the California Zephyr’s dining car.
— And it’s having a real honest-to-God full service diner on the Lake Shore Limited and the Cardinal and the City of New Orleans.
— Finally, it’s arriving at your destination reasonably close to on time.
Those aren’t “frills”, dammit! They’re the little extras that say “we’re glad you’re traveling with us” and all together they make the difference between “a nice trip” and “a memorable experience”. Why is that so hard to understand?