A Letter to Amtrak’s President:
Dear Mr. Anderson …
Out here—which I guess means anywhere in the country except Washington, DC, and maybe New York City—there is real concern that your long-term plan is to pull the plug on the long-distance trains. We certainly hope that’s not true and I’d like to give you a couple of specific reasons why we think it’s a bad idea.
I recently got an email from a guy I met on the train several years ago. He’s from Taos, New Mexico, and he travels a couple of times a year with his brother-in-law, who has been diagnosed with the early stages of dementia. Flying isn’t possible because the brother-in-law feels claustrophobic in the plane and begins to get panicky. These two guys really need the Southwest Chief and a lot of people like them really need all your long-distance trains.
For instance, there’s the DJ on a radio station in Montana. He has to go to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota two or three times a year for tests and treatment for a rare cancer. It’s too far to drive and the regional airport is almost 100 miles from where he lives. But the Empire Builder goes right through his town. He needs that train.
Yes, I know these are specific cases, but the fact is that all across the west and mid-west, your long-distance trains are the only affordable public transportation available to more than 120 million people.
Putting it bluntly, if you think you’ve had a lot of negative press so far, just try shutting down those long-distance trains.
That’s it for now. Thanks for listening.
PS: I’ll write again. What you don’t understand about dining cars is a lot!