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Joe Boardman questions current Amtrak's managements motives


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#21 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 11:23 AM

How much power does the Board have, compared to members of Congress? I have never understood the relationship of the Board to Congress or to Amtrak--can someone explain this to me? In other words, who would be most effective to write to and tell them to hand Anderson a plane ticket and hire someone else? And who has a title but absolutely no power, so would be useless to write to? Thanks....



#22 jis

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 11:33 AM

How much power does the Board have, compared to members of Congress? I have never understood the relationship of the Board to Congress or to Amtrak--can someone explain this to me? In other words, who would be most effective to write to and tell them to hand Anderson a plane ticket and hire someone else? And who has a title but absolutely no power, so would be useless to write to? Thanks....

It is the Board that does the hiring and firing of Officers of Amtrak. Congress holds the purse strings on the federal subsidy. They cannot directly hire or fire anyone. Nor can the POTUS. POTUS gets to propose candidates for the Board which has to be approved by the Senate.

 

Currently there are two Trump proposed appointees awaiting Senate confirmation. The current Board is entirely Obama appointed except for the ex-Officio SecDOT and the Board appointed CEO.

 

See https://www.amtrak.c...rd-of-directors


Edited by jis, 09 May 2018 - 11:59 AM.


#23 neroden

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 11:56 AM

For the record, I always supported Boardman; I think he's probably the best President Amtrak ever had.


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#24 Lonestar648

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 12:02 PM

The current BofD hires Anderson, but is Pro keep the network intact, so what Anderson is doing, or says he wants to do, isn't that against the desires of the Board?

I know nothing about the pending appointments, does anyone know if they are pro or con LD? Does Anderson have a friendlier Board now or after the Senate confirmations? In other words, does Anderson need to move quickly or is he working on plans to roll out once the Board changes?

#25 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 12:03 PM

Thanks, jis--now I see how the Board fits into the picture.

 

So a possible step would be to write to the Board chairman and say (as politely as I can manage) that Amtrak and the new CEO are not a good fit and that they need to replace him before he completely destroys the whole system (including their precious NEC, which would go down with the rest, even if they can't see it)?

 

And, of course, as has been discussed elsewhere, who do we suggest to replace him? What railroad people are left? (The only two I can think of who are not retired or have passed on are a man involved with Brightline--Gene someone? and the lady up in Maine with the Downeaster--can't remember her name right now.) Are they possibilities? Are there other similar people with train knowledge that we could list? I would like to have a list of names to propose in my letter--something they could actually use to work with.

 

Also, Lonestar648, I'm not sure it matters who appointed the Board members--if most were appointed by Obama but they still chose Anderson as the CEO, it doesn't seem that a president's party would matter all that much in this case.


Edited by Mystic River Dragon, 09 May 2018 - 12:05 PM.


#26 neroden

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 12:08 PM

That would be a decent letter. I might suggest an internal promotion (I think others know better than I which of Amtrak's executives are competent). . Alternatively, someone from VIA (who would consider the long-distance situation a vast improvement over VIA's situation, and might recognize that most of Amtrak's so-called long-distance routes are similar to VIA's *Corridor* in terms of population and usage). I mean ideally we'd want a European or Chinese railroader, but they wouldn't take the job.

Edited by neroden, 09 May 2018 - 12:08 PM.

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#27 jis

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 12:20 PM

Practically, we really should not be in the business of proposing replacement individuals, since we simply don't have access to the necessary information. We should certainly propose characteristics that we would like to see in a CEO, maybe even drop a name as an example, and even state preference for internal vs. external should we want to get that deep into it.

 

BTW, RPA, through its President, has engaged in a direct one on one conversation with Mr. Coscia, the Board Chairman, on this matter, and letters and notes have been flying back and forth. There will be more on that interaction in the May monthly newsletter from RPA. There has also been significant engagement with the Transportation Committee members both of the House and Senate from both sides of the aisle. And needless to say, there have also been meetings quite regularly with Anderson's staff. Just because Seaboard is not aware of stuff does not mean it has not been taking place. There is also a campaign afoot to get the mayors of all towns served by Amtrak LD service to contact their representatives across the board raising awareness of the perils and propose ways of preserving the LD network.


Edited by jis, 09 May 2018 - 12:23 PM.


#28 Lonestar648

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 12:20 PM

What would be good is to find a way that you know the CHM will actually see the letter. Too many times, all correspondence is extremely filtered, with only those items the staff likes getting to the desk for possible reading. If it is Andersons staff doing the administration, then negative corespondence are dead upon arrival.

Now Board members generally work and office somewhere else besides Amtrak, so maybe that is portal for gaining access to the CHM of the Board, without Anderson filtering.

The letter sounds great, I would just want it to actually be seen and read. The fact that you used an alternate avenue to access might possibly even give additional concern and credibility.

#29 Bob Dylan

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:16 PM

It's long been a tradition for ex-US Presidents to not criticize the current occupant of the Big White Prison @1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as well as CEOs of other Corporations and Institutions.

I was one of the most persistent critics on AU of Boardman when he ran off several good Amtrak Executives, and sat back and let the CFO and the Bean Counters run amok with their Nickel and Dime Cuts to the LD Trains and rolled out the New and Unimproved AGR2.0.

I'm not a Big Fan of the Cold Meals on LD Trains, but Anderson does seem to be involved in decision making, and was actually successful in getting a Budget Increase out of the Stingy Amtrak Micro Managers on Capitol Hill!!😎

The jury is still out till we actually expierence the changes for ourselves, or believe the Arm Chair CEOs on this Board as they Post.😁😄

I hope Mr Boardman enjoys his retirement and keeps on speaking up, Anderson needs all the help he can get, hopefully he will listen to lots of others involved including passengers and on the Road Crews and not be a "My way or the Highway" CEO!

It's early in the Game,let's be Optimistic Doubting Thomases!!!

Edited by Bob Dylan, 09 May 2018 - 01:19 PM.

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#30 jis

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:18 PM

The current BofD hires Anderson, but is Pro keep the network intact, so what Anderson is doing, or says he wants to do, isn't that against the desires of the Board?

I know nothing about the pending appointments, does anyone know if they are pro or con LD? Does Anderson have a friendlier Board now or after the Senate confirmations? In other words, does Anderson need to move quickly or is he working on plans to roll out once the Board changes?

All that is known about at least one of them is that he had a 100% record of voting anti-Amtrak on any bill of such relevance. Among those bills or amendments several were for defunding all of Amtrak, and he was happy to vote in favor of them.



#31 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:40 PM

May not have like some of Boardman's decisions, but he was for keeping the network intact.  Anderson is talking about the start of dismantling the network.  First the SWC, then may the CL, not enough riders maybe after the meal change, and the list goes on.  Once you take down the first route/train, the second is more doable, then the third, fourth, and fifth becomes even easier to make happen.

 

They've cut LD trains many times before and it hasn't been the end of the world (unless they cut your train). Certainly there are a few weak links you can cut and still maintain a national network. The SWC is clearly not one of them (how do you get from CHI to LAX, and don't tell me the TE, that's almost a whole day slower!)


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#32 keelhauled

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 02:18 PM

I think at this point it's clear that anyone traveling CHI-LAX is not a priority for the current administration. Whether their vision will incidentally continue to allow direct CHI-LAX (or similar) itineraries is still up in the air, as is whether it will even come to fruition.

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.


#33 Ryan

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 05:12 PM

The current BofD hires Anderson, but is Pro keep the network intact, so what Anderson is doing, or says he wants to do, isn't that against the desires of the Board?


Perhaps this mythical "Anderson wants to destroy the LD network" that everyone is so hyped up on isn't as factual as people think.
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#34 LookingGlassTie

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 05:55 PM

 

May not have like some of Boardman's decisions, but he was for keeping the network intact.  Anderson is talking about the start of dismantling the network.  First the SWC, then may the CL, not enough riders maybe after the meal change, and the list goes on.  Once you take down the first route/train, the second is more doable, then the third, fourth, and fifth becomes even easier to make happen.

 

They've cut LD trains many times before and it hasn't been the end of the world (unless they cut your train). Certainly there are a few weak links you can cut and still maintain a national network. The SWC is clearly not one of them (how do you get from CHI to LAX, and don't tell me the TE, that's almost a whole day slower!)

 

I think that there ARE ways to "trim" Amtrak without significantly disrupting the network or upsetting/alienating the majority of RR passengers.  I certainly agree that you can't run a railroad as you would run an airline, but if Anderson takes the same general business principles he went by to make Delta successful and put them into Amtrak, then it just might be better for it.  But it would "appear" (and I use that word purposely) that he is not doing what he should do with Amtrak.   And it's interesting that Boardman feels the same way.


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#35 CraigDK

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 09:31 PM

Perhaps this mythical "Anderson wants to destroy the LD network" that everyone is so hyped up on isn't as factual as people think.

That's not what the internet says... and we all know that the internet is correct. :lol:


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#36 chrsjrcj

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 10:20 PM

 

The current BofD hires Anderson, but is Pro keep the network intact, so what Anderson is doing, or says he wants to do, isn't that against the desires of the Board?


Perhaps this mythical "Anderson wants to destroy the LD network" that everyone is so hyped up on isn't as factual as people think.

 

 

Maybe Anderson doesn't want to destroy the LD network, so long the states are paying for it. 


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#37 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 06:14 AM

 

 

The current BofD hires Anderson, but is Pro keep the network intact, so what Anderson is doing, or says he wants to do, isn't that against the desires of the Board?


Perhaps this mythical "Anderson wants to destroy the LD network" that everyone is so hyped up on isn't as factual as people think.

 

 

Maybe Anderson doesn't want to destroy the LD network, so long the states are paying for it. 

 

 

I wish the states did, or at least a portion of the LD network. If you were to say "let's start a new train", the response would immediately be talk to your state to fund it (at least a part of it). Will the current Gulf Coast route be a full federal responsibility or will Alabama/Florida/Mississippi be expected to bear more of the responsibility? So why aren't states expected to share more of the responsibility of the costs? In return, the federal government can chip in more for "state supported" service.  I'm from Pennsylvania but I've ridden the Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, and Illini trains in my lifetime and there's a few LD trains I've never ridden and have no intention of ever riding. 


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#38 jis

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 07:05 AM

States and localities already fund part of the LD network infrastructure. Even leaving aside the SWC Kabuki going on in KS-CO-NM, localities have funded upkeep of station facilities for a long time. Seems like Anderson is trying to shift more of that aspect onto the localities and states. That is what all the station destaffing and what not is all about, in essence.

 

Even on the NEC per PRIIA 2008, the states are expected now to foot a larger portion of the NEC infrastructure bill. The initial planning etc. of this predates Anderson by a decade. Transitioning into the new setup started a couple of years back with howls of pain and protest from various NEC states.



#39 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 08:14 AM

 

Perhaps this mythical "Anderson wants to destroy the LD network" that everyone is so hyped up on isn't as factual as people think.

That's not what the internet says... and we all know that the internet is correct.

 

You've made this same basic joke multiple times now, but it was a lot funnier when it still had some actual subculture relevance, such as back in 1998. Here in 2018 there is little or no meaningful distinction between views that are expressed online and offline. Please update your calendar to the correct decade before endlessly regurgitating this same tired remark yet again. Thank you.


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#40 JoeBas

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 08:27 AM

 

 

Perhaps this mythical "Anderson wants to destroy the LD network" that everyone is so hyped up on isn't as factual as people think.

That's not what the internet says... and we all know that the internet is correct.

 

You've made this same basic joke multiple times now, but it was a lot funnier when it still had some actual subculture relevance, such as back in 1998. Here in 2018 there is little or no meaningful distinction between views that are expressed online and offline. Please update your calendar to the correct decade before endlessly regurgitating this same tired remark yet again. Thank you.

 

 

Yup.  The former head of Amtrak comes out and point-blank accuses his replacement of actively trying to kill the LD network, starting with the SWC, and the response from the sand eaters is "LULZ people on the interwebz is so duuuummmmmbbbbbbbb......".  

 

Be careful with those fingers in your ears, guys... Mom always said you might get stuck that way. 


Edited by JoeBas, 10 May 2018 - 08:27 AM.





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