Skift Global Forum interview of Anderson

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by jis, Sep 7, 2019.

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  1. Sep 7, 2019 #1

    jis

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  2. Sep 7, 2019 #2

    Just-Thinking-51

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    So don’t get this term.
     
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  3. Sep 7, 2019 #3

    Rasputin

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  4. Sep 7, 2019 #4

    Amtrakfflyer

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    “We probably have 15 LD trains now? Ideally we’d have 5-10 experimental trains.

    He doesn’t even know how many Amtrak operates and the CA Zephyr doesn’t go Chicago to San Fran technically. He did mention the SWC, at least he knows about that train as we all know:(

    He’s out of touch.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  5. Sep 7, 2019 #5

    pennyk

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  6. Sep 8, 2019 #6

    jebr

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    There doesn't really seem to be a whole lot new here. I think he understands what services Amtrak's long distance trains run pretty well - assuming the Palmetto is a long distance train, the count is 15, and the quote is "Probably today, we operate 15 of them..." without any question mark. I'd like to hear the exact interview and language, because it seems more like odd phrasing, not him not knowing the long distance network. (Same with the Zephyr's endpoint - the posters for the route all say San Francisco, even before Anderson, and it serves the San Francisco market even if the train doesn't end in San Francisco proper.)

    What frustrates me more than anything else is that he hasn't articulated much of a concrete vision. He's made very high-level comments of wanting to focus on corridors and cut back on long distance trains, but without a clear, detailed vision of what that looks like, including cost estimates, there's really not a whole lot to look forward to or to be optimistic about. Amtrak is still hamstrung by the 750-mile rule, and there's little discussion of changing that. It'll also take quite a bit of additional funding to build out a respectable corridor network; cutting 5 long distance routes might give you four trains a day on 4-5 400-mile corridors. That's not a comprehensive national network by any sense of the definition. If somehow cutting 5 long distance trains would get us corridor networks similar to western Europe, I'd gladly make that tradeoff. But the long distance trains don't use up anywhere near that level of resources, and so focusing on those without articulating a vision and making a case to Congress for it doesn't do a whole lot to get people on your side.
     
  7. Sep 8, 2019 #7

    lordsigma

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    Anderson wants to run the builder, Zephyr, starlight, and auto train. Some other routes may still continue to be possible depending on how the new “corridors” look. I think that’s why he says 5-10. For example in building the corridors between new York and Florida it may in the end still make sense for Anderson to still have an overnight trip. But the four I mentioned are the ones he probably sees as the ones with experiential potential.
     
  8. Sep 8, 2019 #8

    Barb Stout

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    "First step was to fix all the interiors on our trains with LED lights, good WiFi, ..." But they got rid of WiFi on the SWC. Does anyone know why?
     
  9. Sep 8, 2019 #9

    AmtrakBlue

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    Did the SWC have Amtrak WiFi or WiFi provided by OBS? The 2 times I’ve ridden it it was provided by the SCAs.
     
  10. Sep 8, 2019 #10

    pennyk

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    The last time I rode the SWC, the wifi was a hotspot that appeared to be provided by Amtrak (and controlled by the SCA), however, I have been on the SWC where the SCA gave the impression that she/he was providing the wifi. I have never seen wifi other than with a hotspot (and it was spotty at best).
     
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  11. Sep 8, 2019 #11

    railiner

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    "Experiential" I believe means, people ride the train for the fun of it, rather than just for transportation....(for the experience).

    Too bad we no longer have the "experimental" trains, as in new routes (not new types of equipment), that were mandated by Congress for a brief period in Amtrak's early history...
     
  12. Sep 8, 2019 #12

    Barb Stout

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    The first 2 times I rode the SWC, there was WiFi, if I recall correctly. Whether it was a hotspot or not, I don't know, but I didn't have to contact the SCA or anyone to access it. But yes, it was spotty and not real perky either, as most public WiFis are in my experience. How would one differentiate between a hotspot and "regular" WiFi?
     
  13. Sep 8, 2019 #13

    jis

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    Although this is not a standard terminology as far as I know, I think by "hotspot" one means that a web page comes up to let you in, whereas just WiFi is something you select the SSID and connect to and off you go and start using it without seeing any specific web page identifying the WiFi provider and any acceptance of terms etc.
     
  14. Sep 8, 2019 #14

    Rasputin

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    As I recall when we rode the SWC in 2017 there was WIFI which was spotty at times. The sleeping car attendant posted the password or access word on the wall near the stairwell. I can't recall about our trip on the SWC in 2018. I don't think there was any service on the Crescent or City of New Orleans this year but I didn't really try to use it so I don't really know.
     
  15. Sep 8, 2019 #15

    TiBike

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    Hotspot can mean any publicly accessible WiFi service intended for stationary use at a specific location, as opposed to a ubiquitous service over a given area, like cellular phone/data services. It came into wide use about 15 years ago during the Great Muni WiFi Bubble, when citywide systems were the rage. Those systems didn't work very well (I worked on several and ran one for a while) and hotspots were the (largely successful) fallback option. Today, however, hotspot is usually taken to mean something more specific: a dedicated, consumer-grade device ("puck" as it's sometimes described) provided by a mobile carrier that's intended to provide a link to a cellular network via a WiFi connection.

    I don't know what they had on the SWC, but a system like what they have on the Capitol Corridor or Surfliner is commercial grade equipment, with external antennas, that's beefier than the consumer grade "puck"/hotspot you can get at a store. It connects to the same cellular systems, though (the same ones you'd use with your smart phone). I suppose an SCA might have brought his or her own consumer grade hotspot onto a train, and made it available to passengers on a casual basis. It wouldn't have worked as well as a dedicated system, but given the territory the SWC traverses, neither would have worked reliably. Even on the Surfliner and Starlight there are long stretches between San Jose and Santa Barbara where you can't get any cellular service at all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  16. Sep 8, 2019 #16

    Rasputin

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    The available evidence would appear to indicate that when Anderson speaks of WIFI on trains he must be talking about the Northeast Corridor and perhaps some other eastern trains and some short distance trains. WIFI was certainly a service available on the SWC for a while but I understand that Amtrak's western operations management received a directive that it was no longer to be provided. At least that is what I have read and maybe someone can confirm this.

    Under the current Amtrak administration, Amtrak cannot afford to have passengers get attached to their long distance trains.
     
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  17. Sep 8, 2019 #17

    bcanedy

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    I was on the Southwest Chief in late July/early August and there was no WiFi available. I was told that it was removed because “nobody was using it.” There may be some truth to that because on my previous trips I found the WiFi to be extremely unreliable because of the lack of cell coverage on certain portions of the route. I don’t mind because I ride the long distance trains to disconnect from the internet.
     
  18. Sep 8, 2019 #18

    Rasputin

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    This sounds like a variation of the "Nobody Rides Trains" argument.
     
  19. Sep 8, 2019 #19

    Amtrakfflyer

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    Talking about the SWC. The poster frames on the train are mostly gone as we’ve previously discussed. They used to put the dining car menu in the corner on the ones in the SSL lounge. Last weeks trip the dining car menu was sloppily duct taped up in the lounge where the poster frames used to be. I should have taken a photo. The duct tape looked to have been ripped by hand. Unbelievable how far services have fallen.
     
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  20. Sep 8, 2019 #20

    Devil's Advocate

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    Abandoning 5-10 long distance rail routes would presumably leave plenty of money for Ambus corridors. Not sure why anyone would want that, but I guess if Anderson is itching to throw the national network under the bus that would be the most appropriate legacy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  21. Sep 8, 2019 #21

    Lonestar648

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    Webster defines "Experiential" as relating to, derived from, or providing experience. Anderson appears to be saying that the LD routes do not provide a service like the rest of Amtrak, thus those routes without strong Congressional support are expendable and without stating such, is between the lines saying many will be quietly eliminated or modified into corridor service. The issue that may force this to occur is the available inventory of Superliner cars, if no new long distance cars are order now, how much longer can Beech Grove keep enough cars operating?
     
  22. Sep 8, 2019 #22

    Amtrakfflyer

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    Which is why we need new Amtrak management sooner than later. New management can make the Capital and City NO single level trains which would buy a few years at best until new western trains arrive. Worst case make one or two of the western trains 5 day a week temporarily. There’s work arounds but either way once competent management is installed Andersons/Gardners legacy will linger.
     
  23. Sep 9, 2019 #23

    Lonestar648

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    I fear that more Washington power people than not, are happy with the direction Anderson is taking Amtrak. If this were not the case I sincerely think Anderson would already be out. The big problem facing the next management group at Amtrak, if they are pro-Long Distance network, is the capital expense to replace the existing seriously aging fleet. Once funds are approved, it will be design and long manufacturing schedule before even a trickle of cars can be received. Use the Viewliner II as an example of a timeline. If Anderson stays around for another couple years, will it be too late to save the Long Distance network? Will Anderson dismantle 1/3 to 1/2 of the network before he leaves?
     
  24. Sep 9, 2019 #24

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Is he preaching to his own choir here? I see someone from Delta also will speak, plus Skift seems to be some kind of travel media company (and they are not known for understanding much about trains).

    I wonder if he is going to this forum to get some positive reinforcement to feel good about himself and what he is doing, clearly knowing that many rail people can't stand him.

    (As an aside, "nimbleness" is one of those corporate buzz words, like "agile," that, in my editing experience, is used by the worst writers to mask the fact that they don't have a clear idea of what they are trying to say or what their project is. Not sure if it applies here--I leave it to everyone else here to draw their own conclusions.)
     
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  25. Sep 9, 2019 #25

    jis

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    I think Amtrak needs to become an integral part of the multi-modal travel scene in the US, and to do so it needs to be well within the consciousness of outfits like Skift. It should be Amtrak's job to get outfits like Skift to care about train travel. Amtrak will not survive without main line travel media companies pitching in to promote and support it. Amtrak should not be just a hobby for railfans. It should provide service that primarily meets the needs of travelers who are not railfans, if it is to prosper. I am not suggesting that Amtrak currently meets such needs. But that is a separate discussion.
     

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