Some Advice for Amtrak’s Boss.
President and CEO
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
60 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
With respect, I can’t help but wonder if you truly believe in the Cut-Your-Way-to-Profitability approach as the way to save Amtrak’s national network.
In recent years, sleeping car passengers–your customers–have been told we had to give up the Pacific Parlour Cars, dining cars on eastern trains, the wine tastings, the little welcome aboard gifts, cranberry juice, and even the printed timetables. All that and more has been taken away in the name of reducing costs, with the implication being those little sacrifices were necessary in order to save our long-distance trains.
But I believe, in your heart of hearts, you’re planning to get rid of the overnight trains anyway. Why? Because you think you have a Congressional mandate to eliminate Amtrak’s federal subsidy. And because it’s a lot easier to kill the national network than it is to figure out how to save it.
Fair warning: Just wait until members of Congress start hearing from angry constituents and from the mayors and city council members from every town within a hundred miles of an Amtrak station. There will also be calls from administrators of small town hospitals no longer able to use the accessible bedrooms in Amtrak sleeping cars to send sick or injured patients to big city medical facilities for treatment they can’t provide.
And when the people across the mid-west and west who need your trains finish beating up on their members of Congress because of what you’ve done, you’ll have a brand new Congressional mandate: Save and Expand the National Network!
And here’s a news flash for you: We’ve already started, which us why Congress gave you more money this year than you asked for. You’re going to be getting a NEW mandate from Congress: Save the national network!
I hope you find this helpful.
Well said and written. I will send one too.
This is spot on, Jim. Thank you!
Great letter Jim. I certainly do hope and trust that he will be hearing from all of these sources. Today I noticed this paragraph as part of a very large article, written by C.B. Hall and published in “Vermont Business Magazine”:
“In online discussions, passenger rail advocates are pointing fingers at Anderson – new at Amtrak after many years as an airline executive – as unqualified or even ill-intentioned, and many are calling for Amtrak to show him the door.”
And I hope you actually mailed that letter.
And regarding email communication with an Amtrak decision maker, didn’t you somewhat recently include a direct email address in one of your columns for readers to send comments about the long distance service?
If I did, I don’t remember who or what it was sent to.
Jim, I think perhaps that Charles could be thinking of your January 25, 2018 post entitled “We Have a Rare Chance to be Heard!” which was a post specifically dealing with Pacific Parlour Cars, and in which you had named Scot Naparstek as a possible contact.
We can win this folks. I will visit the offices of Lloyd Doggett, my rep when I get back to San Antonio. I have built a relationship with him. Not bragging here. Just to say that it helps.