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Lonestar648

Joe Boardman questions current Amtrak's managements motives

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We are all wondering what is happening to Amtrak based on recent management decisions, well I saw that Boardman feels the same. See text quote below:

 

 

Based on the Communication I've seen being submitted to Hill Staff, I think that Amtrak has begun to do surgical communications in a way that does not provide a transparent discussion of what they are doing, instead the plan seems to be to keep the recommendations and briefings small and isolated from each other, just the opposite of transparent.

....

 

Worse yet its being done without a "Public Policy" process. Amtrak is not really a "private business", it is a "State Owned Enterprise" and it needs an open and transparent process that only Congress seems to be able to give State and National rail stakeholders under this new " Hedgehog" strategy.

For me its: The Raton Pass vs. The Gateway Tunnel you can't have one without the other.

Joe Boardman
Amtrak President and CEO 2008 - 2016

MODERATOR NOTE: Edited for copyright issues

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/05/08-former-amtrak-president-questions-motives-of-current-management

Edited by pennyk

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Im sure Anderson will signal the end to a lot of things, in a hope that a state or states (jeez isnt this why we have a Federal government) will pony up the cash. Whether they do or dont has the same desired effect I assume.

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From reading the entire article from the link, Boardman is certainly critical of the way things are currently being handled under Anderson. Is it usual for a former to be so critical of the current management? Regardless, his concerns lend credence to the concerns being expressed in several threads in this forum. Not encouraging news imo.

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The part where he said that Amtrak is not really a private business and is a state owned Enterprise says it all about the difference between him and Anderson. Anderson believes its a private business - Boardman thought of it as a state owned Enterprise that provides a public service.

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I would speculate that Boardman's fire could be fueled by some of his former direct reports that still work for the company. He's also probably personally offended at the disregard for some of the PTC exceptions developed by the FRA. This letter seems like a very uncommon thing to do. I'm not sure how productive it will be.

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Not sure how many of you read the letter from the private car owners organization, but it was a real page turner also. They also challenge Amtrak's commitment to a national railroad, vs operating as a couple of isolated railroad islands. I'll let the letter speak for itself. I'm just too damn peeved to even think much more about this. Let's just hope that there will be enough of an outcry that Anderson's term will come to an end sooner rather than later.

 

http://www.aaprco.com/news/aaprco-and-rpca-4302018-response-to-amtrak/

 

http://www.aaprco.com/news/aaprco-and-rpca-4302018-response-to-amtrak/

Edited by MikeM

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Remember, Mr. Boardman spent a lot of time talking up the network as a whole. He did not believe in dismantling the system. Mr. Moorman felt the need to protect the system to the point he took a job he didn't want in an attempt to preserve passenger service. I'm not sure how he feels about his choice, but he didn't invest as much time and capital as Mr. Boardman.

 

Now, that money is FINALLY flowing and the fruits of his labor are realized, you have someone who may not match the TIGER grant for the Chief and seem to be taking steps that may set Amtrak back years.

 

I'd be upset too.

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Anderson is really talking the chief down. Rapid decrease in ridership, increasing costs, and this agreement to match the $3M. Really sounds like he is posturing for an official end date to be announced very soon. I think Boardman knows this and is trying to stop it. Once you kill one I fear the rest come tumbling down after it. Reason why Boardman said all the trains were necessary for the network, one was not better than another.

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I can confirm that everything Boardman says is correct. The first thing Anderson started doing was to conceal information by removing it from the monthly performance reports. Then he started to lie about the costs of the so-called long-distance trains. Then he made moves which cost revenue and reduce service, with absolutely no regard for financial sense.

 

What are his motives? I don't care. Get rid of him; he's wrecking the system through incompetence.

 

I have to respect AARPCO and RPCA for launching a serious broadside against him and sending it to most of the relevant members of Congress -- particularly because they didn't just include the private car issues, but also Anderson's other inexcusable and stupid attacks on service.

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Honestly I think RPCA and AAPRCO have been a lot more active and vocal then RPA/NARP on the national network issue. It seams like NARP/RPA is very reactive and also in Amtrak's pocket.

 

While the PV and charter people have been using all methods at their disposal. Some of the biggest supporters of the national network are the PV owners because that's where we run the most often.

 

NARP/RPA does claim to be for the national network and I believe that. I just get the vibe that they aren't as well connected as they try to say they are. I also feel they kinda suck up to Amtrak at any chance.

 

Disclosure: I am a PV person and a charter person who has lost money and some of my reputation because of a change of position by NARP. So am I a bit biased probably. But even the people I talk to in my industry lack a lot of respect for NARP. And I know it's not because of what happened to me.

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Hmmmmm. So it wasn't that long ago ya'll were ready to lynch Boardman for every decision he made regarding Amtrak. And now this post is full of praises for him from the same people who were calling for Boardman's head to roll. :giggle::giggle::giggle:

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Hmmmmm. So it wasn't that long ago ya'll were ready to lynch Boardman for every decision he made regarding Amtrak. And now this post is full of praises for him from the same people who were calling for Boardman's head to roll. :giggle::giggle::giggle:

 

Just because some have criticized some of his past decisions doesn't mean that he can't be right regarding his position now. Additionally, just because some may support his statements doesn't mean that he made the right the decisions when he was in charge and doesn't mean that he was the best person for the job.

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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.

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I never disliked Joe Boardman--just disagreed with some of his decisions. I much preferred him (well-meaning but sometimes muddle-headed) to the current person, who seems arrogant and sneaky.

 

Arrogance sometimes does get its comeuppance, though (see, for example, Harvey, Matt, dfa'd by Mets and traded to a team at the bottom of the standings). So we will see what happens to Anderson. Things cannot go on this way forever.

 

(Somehow I don't think Anderson will ever get an Amtrak locomotive named after him :P)

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Did he ever manage to get a Delta plane named after him? :D

 

No matter what happens to Anderson, big changes at Amtrak are inevitable. I just wish they are more constructive than destructive. At present the indications are bleak.

 

BTW, Board Chairman Coscia went on record last week saying that the Board stands behind the national network. We are now waiting to see what it intends to do about it.

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It is strange how Boardman's every decision was nit-picked, yet he now comes back as someone who's opposing Anderson's antics. I would say it is unprecedented for a former Amtrak president to criticize the current chief.

 

I guess the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know.

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Anderson is really talking the chief down. Rapid decrease in ridership, increasing costs, and this agreement to match the $3M. Really sounds like he is posturing for an official end date to be announced very soon. I think Boardman knows this and is trying to stop it. Once you kill one I fear the rest come tumbling down after it. Reason why Boardman said all the trains were necessary for the network, one was not better than another.

 

How is Anderson doing this?

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The rapid decrease in ridership claim is total BS. One simply has to look at ridership numbers for the train over its history to know that the exact opposite is true. Ridership continues to increase, though has plateaued some likely as a result of capacity constraints.

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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....

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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.com/board-of-directors

Edited by jis

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

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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?

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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

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