This is topic Former Amtrak Board Chair Speaks Out in forum Amtrak at RAILforum.

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Posted by TwinStarRocket (Member # 2142) on :
Submitted for discussion:
Posted by Gilbert B Norman (Member # 1541) on :
As I noted by text to an advocate member here, after taking my walk yesterday and #5(23) failing to show up anywhere near its appointed time (reported 55ML), my long-held conclusion that the LD trains no longer provide much, if anything, in the way of meaningful transportation to the traveling public was fortified, or otherwise "one more nail in the coffin".

Presently, Amtrak does not have sufficient serviceable equipment (I've observed #3 and #5 with ONE Coach in consist - and if that one Coach was a 310XX Coach-Bagg, they have an ADA issue or two to address) or staff to operate the full system. The only way out I see is to drastically reduce, or entirely eliminate, the LD system and redirect all efforts to what counts - the Corridors.

I think it is time to accept that the only market in which Amtrak has a meaningful role is in the Northeast. However, localities such as the State of California, have chosen to sponsor, and fund from local sources, passenger service with "mixed" success.

Being the only organization with the institutional expertise to operate an intercity passenger train, Amtrak has a requirement to remain a National concern. While some here may disagree, if Amtrak operates, or is available to operate, local intercity services nationally, I hold the mandate under RPSA70 to be national in scope is being fulfilled.

Finally, to conclude on a minor closing point in the material Mr. Twin Star submitted regards cash acceptance. To my knowledge, airlines no longer accept cash for anything on the ground or inflight. There are means for the "unbanked" to obtain "Gift Cards" good anywhere major credit cards are accepted, and as such, I see no need for any transportation concern to accept such. There is even one airline, Spirit, which is amongst the group known as "Low Cost Carriers", that sells tickets through the "Bank of the Unbanked" - currency exchanges. Further on this point, "cashless" is coming to hotels. For an upcoming November stay at a Hyatt in Greenwich CT, it is clearly noted at their site that cash is not accepted anywhere in the hotel save tips, which ostensibly are a transaction between you and the employee. Even tips are now going cashless as a Journal travel article notes.
Posted by MontanaJim (Member # 2323) on :
I disagree, I think Amtrak has a meaningful role in most of the country, especially my home state of Montana and current state Vermont. Both states have local communities that depend heavily on Amtrak.
Posted by Gilbert B Norman (Member # 1541) on :
Jim, your State of residence has chosen to fund two passenger trains, which means it funds more passenger train miles per capita than any other. This is a decision the People have made, and Amtrak is there - and should be there - with its institutional expertise to operate the service.

I think such provision, first within RPSA70 and as amended by subsequent enacted legislation, is good legislation - I'm all for it.

Now regarding your "home" state, which has more passenger train miles per capita than any other, their legislature has shown no interest, beyond some limited funding to "study" a Miles City-Missoula service over the Northern Pacific, in supporting passenger trains. True, I know from first hand experience - including noting all too many Crosses along the highway, driving US12 (follows "my MILW") in January is "challenging", and US2 likely more of same. But that to me does not warrant a passenger train - just care when behind the wheel.
Posted by George Harris (Member # 2077) on :
Given the silly in many cases rescheduling and slowing down of trains along with total lack of reliability it meeting these schedules, plus less than daily service, the long distance trains are not dying nor useless, they are being killed by deliberate mishandling. Neither are they being killed off in the low end markets by bus service. Long distance bus service is also becoming laughable. Yes, I know that riding a bus puts you in close proximity of the creepiest portions of the human residents of this country, but some of this also appears to be poor management decisions as well. It appears that we are fast becoming, outside the northeast, of course, a fly or drive country due to lack of meaningful alternatives.

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