Passenger service with 21st Century relevance

Freight railroads don’t prosper because shippers have affection for them. Instead, railroads profit when their services are economically relevant. When freight services net customers fewer benefits than the prices railroads need to charge, the customers disappear and, soon, so do the services. These outcomes are not unique to railroads. They hold for all profit-motivated commerce.

Would you like some trains with your coffee?

Why doesn’t the United States have a big, fast, modern passenger rail system? Many passenger rail advocates claim it’s because passenger rail has enemies: The highway lobby. The auto industry. Big oil. The airlines. They don’t want trains because a successful passenger train system would damage their businesses.

A bright light in dark places

Joe Boardman was not my favorite person during most of his time as Amtrak President. When Boardman left Amtrak, friends wisely persuaded me to let it go. After he was gone, I said nothing negative about him. However, no one said not to praise him if he did something right. I did not expect that to happen.

Amtrak: Where is the public input? Where is the transparency?

Having spent much of my productive life at the state and federal levels observing, studying, regulating and then leading a rail management team, I am appalled with what increasingly appears a unilateral violation of the public trust by Amtrak’s current leadership to dismantle our interconnected, intercity rail passenger network, beginning with hollowing out of its long-distance passenger train service.