Comment on A blueprint for Amtrak success from T4A Chair John Robert Smith by Andrew Selden


This story contains two serious errors, one of omission and one a material misstatement.
ALL the inter-regional routes have recovered fully from the epidemic, but they are being sabotaged and suffocated by Amtrak management: (i) trains are not carrying the full consist of cars that they did before the epidemic, creating false declines in usage simply because there are no seats and sleeper rooms available to sell; (ii) management still refuses coach passengers access to dining cars, forcing them to endure junk food from the snack bars for two or three day trips; (iii) prices are artificially inflated; and (iv) several trains have had their lounge cars removed, downgrading passengers travel experience.
The critical omission is the simple fact that the inter-regional trains strongly out-perform all the shorter corridor trains, including the Northeast Corridor. The once a day (or less) inter-regional trains carry as many intercity passengers as do the dozens of daily NEC trains (most NEC customers are classified as commuters, not intercity); they produce 50% more annual revenue passenger miles than do all the NEC trains; they have greater load factors than any corridor trains; they have market shares along their routes that are 3 to 5 times greater than the market share of Amtrak’s NEC trains; and they do all that on less than 1/4th the annual subsidy cost that the NEC incurs.