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Senator Manchin vs Richard Anderson/Steve Gardner

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And the 2019 Appropriations Bill is off to a rough start if you are trying to cut ticket agents and kill small non profit and small businesses. Senator Manchin (WV-D) is attaching language to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development bill for 2019.

 

Of Manchin's additions to the bill he is stipulating that in every state Amtrak must have at least one ticket agent. He believes that because his state still has over 30 percent of people without broadband service and limited cellular coverage across the state that agents are an imperative for better serving the needs of rural states.

 

He has also put language in that will force Amtrak to justify their charter train and private car price increases, and the Huntington set off for private cars, increase transparency, and public relations. Basically with this part he's trying to save one of the most well known and best charter customers in the United States CP Huntington. Who have all but Ben forced out of business by Dick And Gardner.

 

Now I have known this language was coming since April because they were telling us over dinner that they could easily attach a rider to force Amtrak to play ball with us. The Station Agent rider is one I wasn't forecasting but definitely a good development. Moral of the story if you are an Amtrak executive intent on cutting back services to save money don't mess with West Virginia.

 

As much as Dick and Garnder want to change how Amtrak has operated for the last 47 years they are still following the important CEO mantra. "Cut our way to profitability."

 

For those who want to see all of Senator Manchin's release please see: https://www.manchin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/manchin-secures-language-to-ensure-amtrak-ticket-agent-in-west-virginia

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I feel like there's the danger of unforeseen consequences here. Amtrak should be able to charge what it needs to in order to profitably do something that is outside of its core mandate. I do support the agent in every state (as long as amtrak has service there) provision, it's a hedge against complete cuts of station agents.

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FWIW: Joe Manchin, throughout his political career, has been a chronic liar. (I've personally watched him lie, as a writer covering him as WV governor.) Never count on him not to change positions to suit his own convenience.

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FWIW: Joe Manchin, throughout his political career, has been a chronic liar. (I've personally watched him lie, as a writer covering him as WV governor.) Never count on him not to change positions to suit his own convenience.

 

Not well knowing him, I have no opinion as to his past political views other than he was a two term Governor of the beautiful state of West Virginia. Given the current political climate, the Senator is "running for his political life" to continue serving in the United States Senate. A comment reported on Fox News this afternoon concerning his past support of Mrs. Clinton and his current views of the 45th President of the United States speaks volumes.

 

We, on this Forum, hope that the Senator will be a strong Amtrak supporter.

 

But, which will ultimately win: the Senator's support of Amtrak or the Senator's interest in maintaining his Seat?

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I don't see how the two views are conflicting. He can still win the senate seat and support Amtrak. I don't think his support of Amtrak in West Virginia (or West Virginia-based excursion operations) will hurt him. It's probably the least of his worries.

Edited by MikefromCrete

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I have no doubt that Senator Manchin is committed to saving New River Train. As much money as we bring into the state he and any other politician would be a fool not to support us. But I also have no doubt like any other politician he can flip and flop with the best of them.

 

And if I were a lot of you I would also suggest supporting us this year by buying a ticket because unless Manchin is indeed successful this very well could be the end of New River train.

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I support his “at least one staffed station in every state served by Amtrak” requirement. Besides WV, I know of at least one other state without a staffed station, and maybe two. I am certain about VT, but uncertain about NH. (The station(s) on the Downeaster may not be staffed by Amtrak personnel, I know the NH station on the Vermonter is unstaffed.)

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And the 2019 Appropriations Bill is off to a rough start if you are trying to cut ticket agents and kill small non profit and small businesses. Senator Manchin (WV-D) is attaching language to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development bill for 2019.

 

Of Manchin's additions to the bill he is stipulating that in every state Amtrak must have at least one ticket agent. He believes that because his state still has over 30 percent of people without broadband service and limited cellular coverage across the state that agents are an imperative for better serving the needs of rural states.

 

He has also put language in that will force Amtrak to justify their charter train and private car price increases, and the Huntington set off for private cars, increase transparency, and public relations. Basically with this part he's trying to save one of the most well known and best charter customers in the United States CP Huntington. Who have all but Ben forced out of business by Dick And Gardner.

 

Now I have known this language was coming since April because they were telling us over dinner that they could easily attach a rider to force Amtrak to play ball with us. The Station Agent rider is one I wasn't forecasting but definitely a good development. Moral of the story if you are an Amtrak executive intent on cutting back services to save money don't mess with West Virginia.

 

As much as Dick and Garnder want to change how Amtrak has operated for the last 47 years they are still following the important CEO mantra. "Cut our way to profitability."

 

For those who want to see all of Senator Manchin's release please see: https://www.manchin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/manchin-secures-language-to-ensure-amtrak-ticket-agent-in-west-virginia

As a Richard myself, I'd like to know why you keep calling him Dick when he apparently goes by Richard which is his name. If you're trying to insult or belittle him, which I've dealt with all my life, I take great offense and it's extremely rude of you when you use last names when you refer to others.

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Mostly because I'm on my phone and trying to type rapidly and use some abbreviations. Even though those of us unemployed because of him could get an excuse to use it for the negative.

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Mostly because I'm on my phone and trying to type rapidly and use some abbreviations. Even though those of us unemployed because of him could get an excuse to use it for the negative.

RE: abbreviations: That makes sense.

RE: excuse: I sympathize with your plight, but a rationale for an action (especially a malicious action) is not necessarily an excuse.

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I support his at least one staffed station in every state served by Amtrak requirement. Besides WV, I know of at least one other state without a staffed station, and maybe two. I am certain about VT, but uncertain about NH. (The station(s) on the Downeaster may not be staffed by Amtrak personnel, I know the NH station on the Vermonter is unstaffed.)

Idaho is another. Of course it only has one station, Sandpoint, which has been unstaffed for years.

Edited by JayPea

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The provision sort-of makes sense (I see where he's trying to come from), but as indicated it doesn't really get at the heart of the problem. Amtrak could just as easily staff Martinsburg or Harper's Ferry and meet the requirement for staffing a station in West Virginia, and (as indicated) it seems as likely to result in Sandpoint simply being axed as a stop as getting staffed. The other thing with the Vermont situation is that there, the staffing situation is arguably the state's responsibility, not Amtrak's (insofar as the Vermonter and Ethan Allen are state trains). Ditto New Hampshire (though that's even more tangled since the states paying for said train are pretty much ME and MA, not NH).

It would make more sense to draw a line above which stations needed to be staffed...but even that gets tangled since you've got some high-traffic stops like Fredericksburg, VA which don't have an in-use station building (FBG runs close to 100k pax/yr). Dealing with this legislatively is sort of a "toothpaste problem": The harder you squeeze, the more likely you are to make a mess.

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And the 2019 Appropriations Bill is off to a rough start if you are trying to cut ticket agents and kill small non profit and small businesses. Senator Manchin (WV-D) is attaching language to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development bill for 2019.

Of Manchin's additions to the bill he is stipulating that in every state Amtrak must have at least one ticket agent. He believes that because his state still has over 30 percent of people without broadband service and limited cellular coverage across the state that agents are an imperative for better serving the needs of rural states.

He has also put language in that will force Amtrak to justify their charter train and private car price increases, and the Huntington set off for private cars, increase transparency, and public relations. Basically with this part he's trying to save one of the most well known and best charter customers in the United States CP Huntington. Who have all but Ben forced out of business by Dick And Gardner.

Now I have known this language was coming since April because they were telling us over dinner that they could easily attach a rider to force Amtrak to play ball with us. The Station Agent rider is one I wasn't forecasting but definitely a good development. Moral of the story if you are an Amtrak executive intent on cutting back services to save money don't mess with West Virginia.

As much as Dick and Garnder want to change how Amtrak has operated for the last 47 years they are still following the important CEO mantra. "Cut our way to profitability."

For those who want to see all of Senator Manchin's release please see: https://www.manchin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/manchin-secures-language-to-ensure-amtrak-ticket-agent-in-west-virginia

As a Richard myself, I'd like to know why you keep calling him Dick when he apparently goes by Richard which is his name. If you're trying to insult or belittle him, which I've dealt with all my life, I take great offense and it's extremely rude of you when you use last names when you refer to others.

Mostly because I'm on my phone and trying to type rapidly and use some abbreviations.

On your phone trying to type rapidly, yet you manage to type six full paragraphs, including writing out “Transportation Housing and Urban Development.” But of everything, removing three characters in his first name is what makes you type more rapidly.

 

Makes sense.

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The legislative rider here is best thought of as a punishment to Amtrak for Richard Anderson being a complete incompetent.

 

Incompetents get micromanaged. It is their fate.

 

If Anderson had had any common sense whatsoever, and had retained station agents at (for example) Cincinnati, he could have continued Boardman & Moorman's practice of quietly retiring station agents at low-usage stations. Because he's proven that he's a moron who doesn't understand the business he's running, Congressmen feel the need to slap chains on him.

 

Coscia should simply fire Anderson, but until he does, we will see more micromanagement from Congress.

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I support his at least one staffed station in every state served by Amtrak requirement. Besides WV, I know of at least one other state without a staffed station, and maybe two. I am certain about VT, but uncertain about NH. (The station(s) on the Downeaster may not be staffed by Amtrak personnel, I know the NH station on the Vermonter is unstaffed.)

Idaho is another. Of course it only has one station, Sandpoint, which has been unstaffed for years.

 

 

 

The provision sort-of makes sense (I see where he's trying to come from), but as indicated it doesn't really get at the heart of the problem. Amtrak could just as easily staff Martinsburg or Harper's Ferry and meet the requirement for staffing a station in West Virginia, and (as indicated) it seems as likely to result in Sandpoint simply being axed as a stop as getting staffed. The other thing with the Vermont situation is that there, the staffing situation is arguably the state's responsibility, not Amtrak's (insofar as the Vermonter and Ethan Allen are state trains). Ditto New Hampshire (though that's even more tangled since the states paying for said train are pretty much ME and MA, not NH).

 

It would make more sense to draw a line above which stations needed to be staffed...but even that gets tangled since you've got some high-traffic stops like Fredericksburg, VA which don't have an in-use station building (FBG runs close to 100k pax/yr). Dealing with this legislatively is sort of a "toothpaste problem": The harder you squeeze, the more likely you are to make a mess.

 

 

 

I just went to TrainOrders and they were discussing it.

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,4569827

 

They pointed out and I went back to the Manchin release:

https://www.manchin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/manchin-secures-language-to-ensure-amtrak-ticket-agent-in-west-Virginia

 

"The Committee directs Amtrak to provide at least one station agent in every state where it operates that had at least one station agent in FY 2018".

 

So Sandpoint, ID doesn't get to keep station because of this rule.

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As much as Dick and Garnder want to change how Amtrak has operated for the last 47 years they are still following the important CEO mantra. "Cut our way to profitability."

There are some words of wisdom from someone who knows the principles of accounting (financial and managerial). Cutting a component off will reduce the variable costs associated with it, but the fixed costs will stay the same which will inevitably cause the company to lose more money, as profits that can counteract the expenses go down. You have to spend money to make money.

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It all depends on what is being cut and whether fixed and variable costs are being cut in proportion or not. Canceling a train typically removes variable cost without proportionately cutting fixed cost and hence is a bad idea. Cutting a variable cost that produces net negative cash flow without using any fixed cost item and not helping meet any of the core objectives, though, may not be a bad idea.

Edited by jis

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It would make more sense to draw a line above which stations needed to be staffed...but even that gets tangled since you've got some high-traffic stops like Fredericksburg, VA which don't have an in-use station building (FBG runs close to 100k pax/yr). Dealing with this legislatively is sort of a "toothpaste problem": The harder you squeeze, the more likely you are to make a mess.

Fredericksburg, VA, definitely needs a station agent. Many times, you don't know which track the train will be coming in on, and sometimes people have to dash through the tunnel (usually wet with puddles and dripping water) under the tracks to the other side. Just up the road in ALX, they also sometimes don't know til the last minute which side the train will be on, but there are agents to announce it and take you across if it's on the other side. I'm not saying the lack of agents at FBG is a severe safety issue, compared with other safety issues, but it does seem ridiculous for a station with such high volume and where a particular train is not always on the same track every day. Also, FBG seems to have become a bedroom community for Washington, so I don't understand why there isn't more pressure from the commuters and other regular riders.

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Of Manchin's additions to the bill he is stipulating that in every state Amtrak must have at least one ticket agent. He believes that because his state still has over 30 percent of people without broadband service and limited cellular coverage across the state that agents are an imperative for better serving the needs of rural states.

Just for the sake of accuracy, his precise language stipulates that every state that had a station agent in FY18 must continue to have at least one station agent.

 

It would be quite absurd to require Amtrak to have a station agent in Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming and South Dakota, as the language you state would require. Additionally the Senator makes the stipulation narrow enough not to burden Amtrak with an essentially unfunded mandate of adding station agent where there has been none for a while. So, unlike what some appear to believe, this stipulation will not cause Sandpoint ID, for example, to get a station agent.

 

Now one question I have for the good Senator and his colleagues is, why aren't they also stipulating that the FAST Act language regarding F&B revenues is rescinded? Is that they don't really care? Or is that because some noisy rich friends have not made enough noise about it to gain their attention on the matter yet? Or is it because no noisy rich friends care about it since they hardly ever set foot in an Amtrak train? :unsure:

Edited by jis

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Of Manchin's additions to the bill he is stipulating that in every state Amtrak must have at least one ticket agent. He believes that because his state still has over 30 percent of people without broadband service and limited cellular coverage across the state that agents are an imperative for better serving the needs of rural states.

Just for the sake of accuracy, his precise language stipulates that every state that had a station agent in FY18 must continue to have at least one station agent.

 

It would be quite absurd to require Amtrak to have a station agent in Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming and South Dakota, as the language you state would require. Additionally the Senator makes the stipulation narrow enough not to burden Amtrak with an essentially unfunded mandate of adding station agent where there has been none for a while. So, unlike what some appear to believe, this stipulation will not cause Sand point ID, for example, to get a station agent.

 

Now one question I have for the good Senator and his colleagues is, why aren't they also stipulating that the FAST Act language regarding F&B revenues is rescinded? Is that they don;t really care? Or is that because some noisy rich friends have not made enough noise about it to gain their attention on the matter yet? Or is it because no noisy rich friends care about it since they hardly ever set foot in an Amtrak train? :unsure:

It could also be all of us are trying to save our livelihoods with private cars and new River train to inform Manchin's staff. It's a matter of we have to look out for ourselves because it's not like RPA is advocating to save New River Train or the countless other small businesses that depend on Huntington as a PV set off location. Or even the countless small businesses in our industry alone. So please forgive us for not working on getting language in the FAST Act.

 

The fact of the matter to is that most private car owners are well off but I wouldn't consider them rich. And most do travel by regular Amtrak as well as their cars. We care about the regular passenger but right now we have to fight for ourselves. It took us since April to get this language in the THUD bill. But on behalf of the industry as a whole I apologize that we aren't working harder to save F&B revenues.

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The legislative rider here is best thought of as a punishment to Amtrak for Richard Anderson being a complete incompetent.

 

Incompetents get micromanaged. It is their fate.

 

If Anderson had had any common sense whatsoever, and had retained station agents at (for example) Cincinnati, he could have continued Boardman & Moorman's practice of quietly retiring station agents at low-usage stations. Because he's proven that he's a moron who doesn't understand the business he's running, Congressmen feel the need to slap chains on him.

 

Coscia should simply fire Anderson, but until he does, we will see more micromanagement from Congress.

 

But Cincinnati is a low-usage station. Just 11,144 passed through CIN in FY2017. That means of the last 37 stations to lose staffing since 2015, CIN ranks as #19 in ridership. It is hardly a bustling terminal. I don't want to see any staffed stations go away, but it certainly falls right in the middle of the pack. On a recent conference call, Anderson said the closure metric was 40 or fewer passengers per day or 14,600 per year.

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Of Manchin's additions to the bill he is stipulating that in every state Amtrak must have at least one ticket agent. He believes that because his state still has over 30 percent of people without broadband service and limited cellular coverage across the state that agents are an imperative for better serving the needs of rural states.

Just for the sake of accuracy, his precise language stipulates that every state that had a station agent in FY18 must continue to have at least one station agent.

 

It would be quite absurd to require Amtrak to have a station agent in Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming and South Dakota, as the language you state would require. Additionally the Senator makes the stipulation narrow enough not to burden Amtrak with an essentially unfunded mandate of adding station agent where there has been none for a while. So, unlike what some appear to believe, this stipulation will not cause Sand point ID, for example, to get a station agent.

 

Now one question I have for the good Senator and his colleagues is, why aren't they also stipulating that the FAST Act language regarding F&B revenues is rescinded? Is that they don;t really care? Or is that because some noisy rich friends have not made enough noise about it to gain their attention on the matter yet? Or is it because no noisy rich friends care about it since they hardly ever set foot in an Amtrak train? :unsure:

 

 

You assume Manchin cares about Amtrak at all. He cares about West Virginia. He worded it carefully to try to get enough other Senators to care even though basically this is just to save Charleston. There may be a couple of other stations in the country that this applies to. If the other Senators had half a brain they would've just told Manchin to go screw himself. It's not like Manchin's the Senate Majority Leader like Byrd was.

 

So not only does Amtrak have to waste money to fund Byrd Crap, they have to waste money for ticket agents to sell maybe 20 tickets a day 3 days a week for Byrd Crap. If the Charleston station is that important to West Virginia, why doesn't West Virginia pay for it? Amtrak will never be able to expand service if they have to cater to every little demand of every irrelevant state's wishes.

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BTW, a quote on this matter from the Senator's own press release:

 

 


"The Committee directs Amtrak to provide at least one station agent in every state where it operates that had at least one station agent in FY 2018, and reiterates its encouragement to improve public outreach prior to making customer service changes.'

 

 

This is a recommendation from the THUD Committee. It has a long way to go before it is marked up and voted on in the full Senate and parallel bill in the House and goes through reconciliation, before it becomes law. It is a good first step on the way to eventual adoption, hopefully.

Edited by jis

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The legislative rider here is best thought of as a punishment to Amtrak for Richard Anderson being a complete incompetent.

 

Incompetents get micromanaged. It is their fate.

 

If Anderson had had any common sense whatsoever, and had retained station agents at (for example) Cincinnati, he could have continued Boardman & Moorman's practice of quietly retiring station agents at low-usage stations. Because he's proven that he's a moron who doesn't understand the business he's running, Congressmen feel the need to slap chains on him.

 

Coscia should simply fire Anderson, but until he does, we will see more micromanagement from Congress.

 

But Cincinnati is a low-usage station. Just 11,144 passed through CIN in FY2017. That means of the last 37 stations to lose staffing since 2015, CIN ranks as #19 in ridership. It is hardly a bustling terminal. I don't want to see any staffed stations go away, but it certainly falls right in the middle of the pack. On a recent conference call, Anderson said the closure metric was 40 or fewer passengers per day or 14,600 per year.

 

 

It was just the most eye opening and would get the most attention of those in the main stream media. Certainly the media in Cincinnati would notice as opposed to the local TV stations/newspapers in Shelby, MT (do they even have any?) and you have 2-3 million potential people noticing.

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