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Joe Boardman questions current Amtrak's managements motives


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#41 PRR 60

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 08:37 AM

There are those of us who do not think that Richard Anderson is trying to kill the LD. That simply means we have a different opinion. it does not mean we are "sand eaters" or "dumb."  There are even some of us that think that some LD advocates are distorting and misleading with some of what they are saying, intentionally or not. The last gasp of someone who has a failing argument is name calling and insults.  There is a lot of name and insults being thrown around right now on this subject.


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#42 JayPea

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 09:27 AM

There are those of us who do not think that Richard Anderson is trying to kill the LD. That simply means we have a different opinion. it does not mean we are "sand eaters" or "dumb."  There are even some of us that think that some LD advocates are distorting and misleading with some of what they are saying, intentionally or not. The last gasp of someone who has a failing argument is name calling and insults.  There is a lot of name and insults being thrown around right now on this subject.



Ahhh, the voice of reason! Thank you!!


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#43 JoeBas

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 11:14 AM

Hey, y'all wanna keep on ignoring the evidence that's right in front of you in favor of "Hope", "Optimism", "Blind Faith", or whatever you want to call it, be my guest.  Every time one of these blows lands, I get told "It's not so bad" and "It's just one thing, stop being dramatic".  It quite honestly gets a little tiresome of the sunshine pumpers constantly saying "It's still good, It's still good!!!" (https://www.youtube....h?v=0LTgNVwfMAE)
 

At least I won't be disappointed when the axe does fall for good.  


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#44 jis

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 11:17 AM

Here is RPA's rejoinder to Amtrak's report on the Southwest Chief to Congress....

 

https://www.railpass...f-announcement/


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#45 neroden

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 02:56 PM

It's time to stop giving Mr. Anderson the benefit of the doubt; he's a liar.  Read the RPA letter. 

 

It's apparent that someone at Amtrak -- either Anderson or someone whispering in his ear -- is trying to kill the so-called long-distance trains through a campaign of lies, misrepresentations, and deliberate service sabotage.  If you don't see this, then yes, you are dumb.  It's the lies which are the giveaway.

 

Good for RPA for coming out with a broadside.  Mr. Anderson is a liar, and it's time to tell Congress that he's a liar.  Liars should be fired.  Actually, since he lied to Congress, he should really be prosecuted, but I'd settle for fired.  Honest mistakes are forgivable; lies are not.  That's my bottom line.


Edited by neroden, 10 May 2018 - 03:02 PM.

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#46 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 03:08 PM

Would someone please explain to me why Anderson took this job?

 

I don't see any passion for anything except cutting, and he could have done that anywhere. He doesn't need the salary.

 

Why on earth did he want to take on Amtrak when he obviously has no interest in passenger rail? Frankly, many people on here have a better understanding of how it works, and the rest of us are open to learning and discussion, which he doesn't seem to be.


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#47 jis

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 03:12 PM

He does not have a salary. He has a bonus tied to his meeting certain goals set for him my the Board. One can only imagine what those might be. And mind you this is from an entirely Obama appointed Board except for the ex-Officio Elaine Chou.


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#48 PRR 60

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 03:27 PM

Would someone please explain to me why Anderson took this job?

 

I don't see any passion for anything except cutting, and he could have done that anywhere. He doesn't need the salary.

 

Why on earth did he want to take on Amtrak when he obviously has no interest in passenger rail? Frankly, many people on here have a better understanding of how it works, and the rest of us are open to learning and discussion, which he doesn't seem to be.

 

He's a disruptor: a manager who comes into an organization and questions everything and accepts nothing from the past unless it is proven to his or her satisfaction - and that's not easy. His intent is to make a comfortable organization uncomfortable, and change the way things are done.  People can either play ball or get out.  I've been through that kind of management, and while it was very unsettling when it happened, we came out much, much better in the end.


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#49 jis

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 03:37 PM

Yeah been through a couple of those myself. Damage to many individual psyches, specially of those that were well established in the organization was something to behold. One had to chart the waters carefully and have logical rational explanation for everything that one wanted to do - either preserve from the past or move in a new direction. many could not take it and just upped and left.

 

Not all such exercises end successfully necessarily, but when they succeed it is very good in the long run with much cobweb cleared. OTOH, when they fail the implosion is usually spectacular too. I have been through such exercises with both kinds of outcome (and survived to talk about it too I suppose) That is why I suspect that no matter how it turns out Amtrak will be quite unrecognizable from today when it comes out the other end. The only honest advice I can give is, fasten your seat belts and hold onto something....


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#50 tricia

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 03:40 PM

I'd be more inclined to believe this might turn out well if Anderson were apparently less ignorant and more truthful.


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#51 Ryan

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 03:57 PM

Can one of you that calling Anderson a liar point out exactly where he lied?
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#52 jebr

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 04:13 PM

The only thing that seems like pretty close to an outright lie was the "steadily declining" fact that he used in his letter regarding the SWC. The RPA rebuts that it was not steadily declining, at least based on the timescale they look at. (They state that it's down 1% from FY 2015, and up 14% from eight years ago.)

 

The rest simply are complaints about him using certain metrics to make the SWC look worse than RPA believes it should. Which is probably a fair complaint. However, I don't think the end goal of Anderson's actions are necessarily wrong; he's asking for a plan to make the infrastructure the SWC solely uses fully funded so that Amtrak isn't stuck with a huge bill for tracks they use twice a day and no one else uses. As long as his determination, if that plan doesn't come through or adequately fund the needs of that stretch of track, is that the SWC would reroute onto the southern transcon instead of using the existing track (and thus stations would be built along that line) I don't see this as a sky is falling determination. If his end goal is to kill the SWC entirely (or cut it back to short segments) then there's a problem.


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#53 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 04:24 PM

 

Would someone please explain to me why Anderson took this job?

 

I don't see any passion for anything except cutting, and he could have done that anywhere. He doesn't need the salary.

 

Why on earth did he want to take on Amtrak when he obviously has no interest in passenger rail? Frankly, many people on here have a better understanding of how it works, and the rest of us are open to learning and discussion, which he doesn't seem to be.

 

He's a disruptor: a manager who comes into an organization and questions everything and accepts nothing from the past unless it is proven to his or her satisfaction - and that's not easy. His intent is to make a comfortable organization uncomfortable, and change the way things are done.  People can either play ball or get out.  I've been through that kind of management, and while it was very unsettling when it happened, we came out much, much better in the end.

 

 

The one impression I get from Anderson is he thinks along the lines of economic philosophy, how do certain trains or decisions affect dollars and cents. While I may not agree with every opinion or "decision" he has in mind, I do have a very economic mindset when it comes to Amtrak and that does run counter to many people at AU.


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#54 Ryan

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 04:29 PM

The only thing that seems like pretty close to an outright lie was the "steadily declining" fact that he used in his letter regarding the SWC. The RPA rebuts that it was not steadily declining, at least based on the timescale they look at. (They state that it's down 1% from FY 2015, and up 14% from eight years ago.)


If something peaked in 2015, and it's now the middle of 2018, I wouldn't call "steadily declining" a lie.

As you say, it all depends on the time scale you look at.
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#55 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 04:36 PM

 

Would someone please explain to me why Anderson took this job? I don't see any passion for anything except cutting, and he could have done that anywhere. He doesn't need the salary. Why on earth did he want to take on Amtrak when he obviously has no interest in passenger rail? Frankly, many people on here have a better understanding of how it works, and the rest of us are open to learning and discussion, which he doesn't seem to be.


He's a disruptor: a manager who comes into an organization and questions everything and accepts nothing from the past unless it is proven to his or her satisfaction - and that's not easy. His intent is to make a comfortable organization uncomfortable, and change the way things are done. People can either play ball or get out. I've been through that kind of management, and while it was very unsettling when it happened, we came out much, much better in the end.

 

If you believe that Anderson is trying to make Amtrak stronger and more efficient then getting rid of the long distance network is a great way to accomplish that.  I mean, does anyone really doubt the books would look a lot better with no long distance network to worry about or hundreds of old locomotives and passenger cars to replace?  If Anderson's primary purpose is to disrupt the status quo and reimagine the future then why would he feel compelled to keep the LD network?  I can easily understand those who believe we're likely to lose one or possibly several routes during Anderson's term.  Amtrak's history is littered with discontinued routes that are long since forgotten.  I've seen no rational counterargument for how maintaining the LD network makes Amtrak stronger or more efficient from the perspective of a emotionally indifferent and fundamentally disruptive influence like Anderson.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 10 May 2018 - 05:12 PM.

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#56 jis

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 04:42 PM

 

The only thing that seems like pretty close to an outright lie was the "steadily declining" fact that he used in his letter regarding the SWC. The RPA rebuts that it was not steadily declining, at least based on the timescale they look at. (They state that it's down 1% from FY 2015, and up 14% from eight years ago.)


If something peaked in 2015, and it's now the middle of 2018, I wouldn't call "steadily declining" a lie.

As you say, it all depends on the time scale you look at.

 

Yeah, I have not noticed any outright lie. There are many things I would consider to be questionable opinion, and many others that I would consider to be so ridiculously ambiguous handwaving that it is hard to make anything of it. What is good about the RPA document is that it is precise and states what the facts are as opposed to manufacturing a story line using vague nonsensical statements at times. It helps ground the discussion in facts.

 

If one has made up ones mind about the imputed motive of someone else then just nonsense might appear firmly to be part of a bigger scheme that may or may not actually be there. Human beings are generally prone to fit things into patterns and which pattern they will attempt to fit something into depends on where their own mind is at. And if someone coming from a different place does not agree with ones convictions then the other may be characterized as dumb. But that is neither here nor there in an adult discussion.


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#57 Ryan

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 04:43 PM

Thank you, you said it far more eloquently than I have been able to.
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#58 Thirdrail7

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 05:30 PM

 

Would someone please explain to me why Anderson took this job?

 

I don't see any passion for anything except cutting, and he could have done that anywhere. He doesn't need the salary.

 

Why on earth did he want to take on Amtrak when he obviously has no interest in passenger rail? Frankly, many people on here have a better understanding of how it works, and the rest of us are open to learning and discussion, which he doesn't seem to be.

 

He's a disruptor: a manager who comes into an organization and questions everything and accepts nothing from the past unless it is proven to his or her satisfaction - and that's not easy. His intent is to make a comfortable organization uncomfortable, and change the way things are done.  People can either play ball or get out.  I've been through that kind of management, and while it was very unsettling when it happened, we came out much, much better in the end.

 

 

 

There's a difference in where this can work. Amtrak has had enough disruptors over the years. What it needs is a BUILDER that serves as LEADER.  It needs a LEADER with a vision and a BUILDER that can work to BRIDGE the gaps between the various stakeholders and achieve a common goal of providing service where desired.

 

Why "disrupt" the long term bridges that are need to provide service ad what makes you think that a corporation that is routinely starved of capital funds, operations funds and must beg for its existence every year is "comfortable?

 

Additionally, if you believe Amtrak, it covered  almost 95% of its operational expenses from ticket sales and other revenues in FY 17. It has climbed every year, along with ridership. That has increased year after year after by working together with stakeholders (states, feds, Congress, employees etc), not "disrupting" the network and alienating your potential partners (private car owners, states, host railroads, etc) .  All that does it make the NEXT CEO, waste valuable time and capital on mending fences, restoring bridges and reestablishing the network.

 

Change for the sake of change means little. Change for the better is...and the best Mr. Anderson can do is finish closing the 5% gap and hopefully, preparing the network for growth by starting the ball rolling with equipment.

 

Disrupting the progress that was made (which helped secure record funding..for the national network  btw) would be a huge step backwards.


Edited by Thirdrail7, 10 May 2018 - 05:31 PM.

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They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#59 jis

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 05:50 PM

It has seemed to me for a while that Amtrak needs an outward facing CxO and an inward facing CxO. Often these roles are played by CEO and COO respectively if the CEO can curb his or her ego enough to have a COO who is given enough rope to play with undisrupted by the politics of dealing with the various external stakeholders (other than the actual service consumers.

 

As for Anderson, he will either learn fast or will implode spectacularly taking half the house down with him. Just because he was good at Delta is no guarantee that he will do equally well in an unfamiliar environment. But there is no way of telling based on the shooting from the hip hand waving that he has been indulging in so far. I eagerly await July or whenever he has to propose something concrete that can actually be evaluated based on concrete stuff.

 

I completely agree with this assessment of Thirdrail's:


Change for the sake of change means little. Change for the better is...and the best Mr. Anderson can do is finish closing the 5% gap and hopefully, preparing the network for growth by starting the ball rolling with equipment.

Unfortunately what damage is done in closing the 5% gap may leave an indelible mark. That is where the F&B mayhem probably comes in. But we shall see....



#60 tricia

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 05:55 PM

Can one of you that calling Anderson a liar point out exactly where he lied?

 

Amtrak is our National Railroad Passenger Corporation (says so right on Amtrak's website). Its current network of trains is already so skeletal as to barely quality as "national." For anyone to take the job of running Amtrak without at minimum an ironclad commitment to keeping the existing, bare-bones network intact seems to me to be fundamentally dishonest. From what we've seen so far, Anderson lacks that commitment. Speaking only for myself, that's what I meant in post #50, just prior to your post quoted here. 


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