Anderson on NPR

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Amtrakfflyer, Dec 2, 2019.

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  1. Dec 2, 2019 #1

    Amtrakfflyer

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    https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/12/02/amtrak-train-ceo-travel

    The untruths and brazenness is getting out of control. He also says, fly it’s cheaper and faster.

    The 7 daily passengers comment is so far out there it’s puzzling. Did he mean 7 trains, it’s just the SWC on most of that trackage. Does he really think no ones paying attention. Then again saying Amtrak will turn a profit next year is probably more deceitful.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  2. Dec 2, 2019 #2

    lordsigma

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    The end to end thing is also somewhat misleading. ORL - NYP or WAS-MIA or EMY - DEN are not end to end trips but they are long distance overnight trips. If one includes all travel greater than a certain distance the numbers are a bit different.
     
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  3. Dec 2, 2019 #3

    crescent-zephyr

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    “The trains previously had both a cafe car and a dining car, which was only accessible for people staying in sleeping cars. Now, some routes have only cafe cars with more modern and higher-quality food options available for all passengers.”

    Wow. The lies are crazy.
     
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  4. Dec 2, 2019 #4

    fairviewroad

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    I've been on plenty of LD trains as a coach passenger where I've been effectively shut out of the diner. Can't say whether the new system is better.
     
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  5. Dec 2, 2019 #5

    keelhauled

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    That is not, for those who don't click through to the article, a quote from Anderson.

    Actually, what was interesting to me was that he said his ideal model was kind of the opposite of the "sleeper lounge" idea, which seems to me to imply that they are still trying to work out the equipment utilization in order to consolidate the dining/cafe cars.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  6. Dec 3, 2019 #6

    Larry H.

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    Gads, he seems to be full of himself and destructive to passenger rail. I would love to know if there are 7 passengers on board then why are sleeper rooms sold out much of the time! Congress needs to do something quickly before he kills everything though destruction of the few perks worth making paying the fare worth it. 45 miles an hour struck me as pretty odd as well. When the trains have the right of way they are going much faster than that. Its beyond me why congress hasn't removed him.. I fear that even though I might agree with some in congress over other issues I don't in this case.
     
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  7. Dec 3, 2019 #7

    crescent-zephyr

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    Which trains and how often? As a coach passenger I’ve been able to eat in the diner for every meal I’ve wanted to including the Capitol, Crescent, Empire Builder, Cardinal, and Zephyr.


    For a disclaimer I remember eating dinner on a silver train in the cafe, I can’t remember if I was told no reservations for Coach were available or I just chose to eat in the cafe.
     
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  8. Dec 3, 2019 #8

    fairviewroad

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    I'm sure I haven't ridden as much as you, I will grant you that. The LD train I've been on most often is the EB, and during the summer dining car reservations are pretty slim for coach passengers (except breakfast, which is first come first served). And dining car reservations are impossible (for all passengers) between Spokane and Portland, which is a lengthy segment.

    I've also been on LD trains for 3 hour (or more) segments where the dining car is inaccessible simply because it is not open. If you board at 2:30 p.m. and get off at 5:30 p.m. then you are not going to get a diner meal. I've love to grab a late lunch/early dinner during that time, but unlike a normal restaurant, the Amtrak diner shuts down for hours at a time during the day. (Same is true if you ride an overnight segment, though understandably demand for a sit-down meal is lower then).
     
  9. Dec 3, 2019 #9

    Mystic River Dragon

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    I just looked Anderson up on Wikipedia, because I was curious about his early life since his father worked for a railroad and the article above says he had fond memories of riding LD trains with his father. But today he seems to have, at the best, disdain for the LD trains, at the worst, downright hatred of them.

    So I wondered if there was anything in his past, and I learned that he lost both his parents to cancer when he was 20. This is going to sound like the worst layperson attempt at psychology, but it did occur to me that maybe that loss and the memories of the train trips and his dad working for the railroad all got combined somehow, and trains to him are all tied up with a sad time as a young adult, even if he doesn't consciously realize it.

    Maybe that's a totally wackadoodle theory, but I do think there is something in his past connected to trains that has affected him badly in a negative way.
     
  10. Dec 3, 2019 #10

    Amtrakfflyer

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    I hate to say this but I think he’s experiencing some type of cognitive decline. He seems absolutely clueless about all aspects of Amtrak. Lies constantly and says things that make no sense. He has tantrums and outbursts if challenged. Something doesn’t add up. This isn’t the same well respected CEO from Delta/United Healthcare. Both companies would not have put up with this behavior. He’s being played like a stooge by someone. It just doesn’t make sense. Today’s interview is worrying on many levels.
     
  11. Dec 3, 2019 #11

    neroden

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    Definite signs of cognitive failure. Nobody who is mentally stable would say "7 passengers a day" about a route with an average of 898 passengers boarding per day.

    Maybe he was given the numbers for one of the more useless stations, like Lamar (average just over 4 passengers per day) and confused it with the route ridership, but that indicates cognitive failure.
     
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  12. Dec 3, 2019 #12

    rickycourtney

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    I listened to the interview and my impression was that Anderson meant that each of the stations along the Raton Pass route, only had about seven on/offs each day. The problem is... I can't make that math work out when I look at Amtrak's numbers.

    I mean, it's a good talking point, but like most talking points, it's missing context and background information.

    I get the impression that Anderson is trying to execute what Congress has mandated, as he, his staff and Amtrak's lawyers see it. If Congress doesn't like it, they have the power to change Amtrak's mandate and funding.

    I also have a sneaking suspicion that this is the point of Anderson and his team. He's trying to call the bluff of the lawmakers.
    Hey lawmakers, want to save the long-distance routes exactly as they are today? Great, fund them.
    Hey lawmakers, want Amtrak to break even on operating expenses? No problem, but it's gonna take some painful cuts, let me show you.

    Problem is, lawmakers want Amtrak to keep amenities just as they are, they want to add more trains, they want Amtrak to break even on operating expenses, and they don't want to spend any more money to do it. It's not doable.
     
  13. Dec 3, 2019 #13

    crescent-zephyr

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    You mean like they have been... since 1971?
     
  14. Dec 3, 2019 #14

    rickycourtney

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    They fund them to an extent, but I would argue it's not the full funding they need. They cover the OpEx losses, but there's very little money to make improvements to the tracks to speed up trains and there's very little money to purchase new equipment for the long-distance services.
     
  15. Dec 3, 2019 #15

    neroden

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    I do not. Congress mandated, extremely clearly, twice, that Amtrak report short term (1 year) avoidable costs and long term (5 year) avoidable costs. Where are the reports? Amtrak is breaking the law there.

    Congress mandated the Performance Improvement Plans. Congress expected them to be implemented, not thrown in a trash bin.

    Anderson is wilfully ignoring Congress. Congress is not bluffing.
     
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  16. Dec 3, 2019 #16

    Amtrakfflyer

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    I don’t see the recent Congresses pressing for Amtrak to make a profit at all. 94-6 votes to maintain the system, votes to hire back station agents, bring back food. Anderson or his manipulators are doing this on their own by using Micas wishes from over a decade ago and pissing off Congress as he does it. Sure this Congress like everyone else wants the system to be efficient but for a public transportation company profit shouldn’t be and isn’t the wishes of this Congress. Someone needs to step to the plate and get the food mandate removed and the for profit language put to bed for good. The dysfunction of Congress is making them unintentionally complicit in Anderson’s destructful agenda.

    I posted the letter Chuck Grassley wrote me concerning Anderson last week. Grassley is as conservative as it gets but even he said Anderson would be put in check if he goes much farther.

    On a side note Anderson put in a reduced subsidy request for Amtrak in coming fiscal year. That shoots down the claim that Anderson is slyly trying to get more $$$ from Congress.
     
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  17. Dec 3, 2019 #17

    crescent-zephyr

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    As for the congress-mandated food service issue.... I wonder what the actual numbers looked like for the trains that offered at-your-seat meals for Coach passengers from the diner.
     
  18. Dec 3, 2019 #18

    Devil's Advocate

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    Which mandate involved attacking the SWC with threats of permanent bus bridges?

    Anderson keeps calling their bluff by actively threatening to abandon service and seeing if they'll let him go through with it.

    Where are you getting this from? Nothing I've see or heard from Anderson indicates or implies he wants more money to continue funding long distance trains at current or higher levels. Everything I've seen indicates he wants to cut at least some long distance routes in order to chase more corridor traffic.
     
  19. Dec 3, 2019 #19

    rickycourtney

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    I think Anderson has made his vision for the railroad pretty clear with his actions over the last 23 months.

    Congress is supposed to do a re-authorization of Amtrak in 2020. That's the chance for lawmakers to make it crystal clear to Anderson and to the rest of the management team what they expect from Amtrak.

    That's the reason why the House held a hearing a few weeks ago, making a public show of hearing from stakeholders about what they want from the re-authorization of Amtrak in 2020.
     
  20. Dec 3, 2019 #20

    crescent-zephyr

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    You mean like 90-110 running in California, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York State? Or added tracks in North Carolina?

    And you mean new equiiment like single level diners, sleepers, and bag/dorms?
     
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  21. Dec 3, 2019 #21

    rickycourtney

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    I think we see eye to eye here, but my attempt at humor made it harder to see.

    By attacking the SWC with the threat of permanent bus bridges Amtrak got a $50 million investment from the federal government to fund 10 years of maintenance and upgrades on the Raton Pass route.

    I agree, Anderson clearly wants to cut some long-distance routes in order to chase more corridor traffic.

    Based on what happened to the SWC, it's pretty unlikely that Congress will allow that to happen. In the 2020 reauthorization, Congress could choose to enshrine "don't cut the long-distance routes" into law and that could also force them to face facts when it comes to what that decision will cost (in OpEx losses, needed investment, but also economic benefits). That could be a win-win for passenger rail advocates.

    That said, I don't think it's a bad idea to chase more corridor traffic, but that doesn't need to mean the end of the long-distance network.
     
  22. Dec 3, 2019 #22

    rickycourtney

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    That funding improved tracks for state-supported corridors, and each of those states, not Amtrak, led the charge to secure that money. If those improvements helped the long-distance network, that was a byproduct. My point was, there is very little in the way of consistent and sufficient funding to improve the long-distance route infrastructure (save for the $50 million for the SWC I mentioned).

    Yes, the Viewliner II order was great, but it was a one-time deal. In the not too distant future, Amtrak will need to go to Congress, hat in hand, and ask for money to replace (and maybe expand) the Superliner fleet. Congress could fix that with a consistent stream of fleet replacement funding.
     
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  23. Dec 3, 2019 #23

    Willbridge

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    Efforts were underway to renovate the KS-CO-NM segment prior to Anderson's appointment. They were spurred by Amtrak's consideration of rerouting the SWC through the Texas Panhandle, or discontinuing it entirely. The bustitution plan was uncovered when Amtrak held up its share of the most recent project. It was so bizarre that it was not mentioned in discussions of hypothetical alternatives. And it had so many bad aspects that it didn't seem serious, being right out of the Friendly SP playbook.

    Check the proud headline regarding the use of Pueblo Steel in 2016:

    http://colorail.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/cr791.pdf
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  24. Dec 3, 2019 #24

    Barb Stout

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    He gets no salary? So does he work for free or are other interests paying him to do their bidding? And who might want Amtrak crippled? Some of the freight lines or...?
     
  25. Dec 3, 2019 #25

    Skyline

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    He's a Trumpling. Did anyone expect truth?
     
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