Here are a couple of sample letters to cut and paste in whole or in part. The first objective is to get our California Senators, Feinstein and Harris, to recognize the problem and to take action with their fellow Senators:
Dear Senator ( ):
Thank you for your support of passenger rail, including the Amtrak national network. I believe that this system of trains and connecting buses is a great asset, providing essential mobility and links between both urban and rural America. Amtrak is carrying record numbers of passengers on ALL its routes, many of which serve communities where there are no longer alternatives such as local air service or intercity bus. Many people choose rail, even with a longer journey time, because of the greater comfort and on-board experience, and many people simply have a fear of flying.
We know that Amtrak is not a profitable operation. We do know that most public support goes to maintain the expensive infrastructure of the North East Corridor (“NEC”). We also know the State supported corridors are either a break even or profit center for Amtrak. The long-distance trains are a bargain for the taxpayer and represent about a third of Amtrak’s business. Without them the States would be paying far more for their corridor services, especially California.
It has become apparent that Amtrak management, using metrics and policies based on airline experience, is obsessed with destroying the national network. Recently retired Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman has just issued a statement with the same message. By cutting on board dining and other amenities, and failing to invest in locomotives and coaches for the past twenty years, they are deliberately downgrading the service and driving away customers. We believe they are doing this in attempt to squeeze more money from the States, in order to fund the backlog of infrastructure projects on the NEC. The NEC is important, but not at the expense of passenger rail for the rest of the country.
We believe that investment in and improvement of the national system is the way to go. California can build the locomotives and passenger cars needed to expand and replace the existing fleet. A positive approach from a new Amtrak management team will attract more business, including tourists, as well as a growing population of retirees.
I request that you work with your fellow Senators to pressure transportation Secretary Chao to appoint knowledgeable and forward-thinking members to the Amtrak Board who can then appoint a CEO that wants the company to succeed, not to destroy.
Next is a generic letter for your Mayor, County Supervisor, Chamber of Commerce etc.
Dear Mayor ….
Amtrak’s national system of trains and connecting buses serves hundreds of communities throughout the country. It is a vital link between urban and rural America providing basic transportation needs to many communities that no longer have intercity bus or local air service. In addition, many Americans simply have a fear of flying, and many more have a preference for the ambience of train travel without the stress of airports. Amtrak is also a tourist attraction, bringing in revenue from overseas visitors.
Recently appointed Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson (formerly with Delta Airlines) does not understand the passenger rail business and is foolishly trying to save money by breaking up the network into short corridors. His purpose is to save money by transferring the financial responsibility of these short corridors to the States through which they run, so that Amtrak’s federal funds can be used to rebuild the North East Corridor (“NEC”). I acknowledge that the NEC is important and has major problems, but these should not be fixed at the expense of the rest of the country.
Joe Boardman, recently retired Amtrak CEO has just has just issued a similar warning, that Amtrak management is destroying the national network.
Please join the Rail Passenger Association of California and other advocates around the country in fighting to preserve this mobility option. Let Senators Feinstein and Harris know that we support their efforts to appoint pro-rail members to the Amtrak Board, and to replace the management with positive, forward-thinking individuals who believe in their mission.
Amtrak Campaign – Talking Points
If you are contacting any of your elected representatives, here are some talking points:
If the western long-distance trains are eliminated:
There will be no connected train network, only isolated corridors or local services. A connected network of over 500 stations will be replaced by “islands” of service with many fewer travel choices.
If the western states want passenger rail they have to pay, no more federal program. The corridors Anderson proposes will require state funds, which most states cannot afford or will not support.
Another massive transfer of funds to the Northeast Corridor (“NEC”).
Amtrak deliberately running the service down. No new investment in Superliners and locomotives for 20 years or more, now removing diners, parlor cars, station agents.
Brand New Dining Cars going into storage.
Will destroy most passenger rail service west of the Mississippi.
Loss of jobs, especially in California. Train crews, on board service, car attendants, maintenance personnel.
Transfer of costs to State corridors. Currently the California corridors share administrative and maintenance facility costs with the long-distance trains. Amtrak will be California 100% of these charges if the long-distance trains go away.
Many of Amtrak’s initiatives have been tried before. They more revenue than the costs that they cut.
By all means add in your own thoughts, experiences etc.
Here are some useful links:
Find your Senator and Representative
Let’s get busy and make some noise. We need to contact our representatives at every level to express our concern. TODAY!
Any questions, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org