I’m sorry to report here my long-held conclusion that the LD trains no longer provide much, if anything, in the way of meaningful transportation to the traveling public.
Presently, Amtrak does not have sufficient serviceable equipment or staff to operate their 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 within 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 the minor point regarding cash acceptance within this material, 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. On this point, “cashless” is coming to hotels. For an upcoming stay I will make, it is clearly noted at the hotel’s site that cash is not accepted anywhere within. Regarding tips, those ostensibly are a transaction between you and the employee.