RPA: Let’s set the record straight

Written by Peter LeCody, Rail Passengers Association

Recent opinion pieces and news stories, such as in Railway Age, have indicated the Rail Passengers Association “goes along to get along” with Amtrak executives and does not express any objections to what the passenger railroad has done or will do when it comes to serving the riding public. This is clearly not the case.

Consider these facts:

  • RPA released a White Paper last fall that blasted Amtrak’s “Faulty Route Accounting” (Railway Age, Aug. 28, 2018).
  • RPA took action when cold food service started on two long-distance trains, the Capitol Limited and the Lakeshore Limited. We worked with Amtrak to have at least one hot meal restored—and more have been announced. (Railway Age, Jan. 17, 2019; Hotline #1063.)
  • RPA helped rally local, state and federal officials when Amtrak tried to downgrade the Southwest Chief with a “bustitution.”  RPA was instrumental in killing the plan.
  • When the Trump Administration wanted to zero-out Amtrak funding, RPA held successful rallies in many cities around the country to garner support to beat back the idea. (#Rally4Trains; Hotline #1019.)
  • Part of the language that benefits rail travelers in the FAST Act came from Rail Passengers Association.

We strongly suggest that RPA’s critics keep up with the good work that the organization is doing for its members by subscribing to our weekly Hotline and special reports.

Concerning Amtrak President Richard Anderson: We did not hire Mr. Anderson and we did not appoint the Amtrak Board of Directors. This is the hand we were dealt, and we will be very cautious in how we play our cards. Mr. Anderson and the Board are not the enemy—and they are not our friends. They are people we deal with so our “owners” (our membership base) have their voices heard for their rail transportation needs and desires.

My opinion is that much of what Mr. Anderson is proposing is good for the traveling public. Still, enough of it is just either plain bad or bad advice that he is getting from others. Mr. Anderson’s critics should be careful of what they wish for in publicly calling for his ouster.

Finally, the Rail Passengers Association does have a commercial relationship with Amtrak. And we will continue it as long as it benefits our members. We also have relationships with the Alaska Railroad, VIA, Brightline and other passenger rail transportation-oriented companies and organizations. We do this as a benefit for our membership. That’s what organizations do.

Peter J. LeCody is Chairman of the Rail Passengers Association.

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