Re: Saving Amtrak-Opportunity for polemics, or effective action?
Author: Erik H.
Date: 03-19-2017 - 18:42
> If you want to take effective action on this issue...
I've always said to keep Amtrak alive, "ride it, ride it often, ride it all the time, ride it for every trip, and tell your friends and family to do the same. Every trip, every time, Amtrak."
Amtrak's system load factor is 50%. That's a LOT of empty space that is perishable - once a train leaves, that seat can't be sold ever again. And an Amtrak train costs the same to run whether it has 300 asses in it or 150 asses. Each person who sits on a computer lamenting "we need Amtrak" is a person sitting AT HOME and NOT on an Amtrak train; not filling positive revenue space; not buying breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining car.
Yes, yes, "But the trains are completely full during Spring Break/Thanksgiving/Christmas!!!" So what? What about February? What about April? October? It does no good paying a lot of people high union wages to run an empty train 2/3rds of the year, just so a few trains during the high travel season are full. Maybe YOU need to schedule your life around the off-peak seasons.
But...guess what? Typing won't do anything. Lamenting Amtrak's loss won't do anything. You didn't put your ass in an Amtrak coach. You didn't buy six tickets on Amtrak for your last vacation. Your family is on an airplane. You drove.
The folks in Washington DC know that; they get the report straight from Amtrak that says Amtrak has a 50% system load factor. 1/2 of Amtrak sellable space, from January 1 to December 31st, goes unsold. Unfortunately, you can't pay the Engineer half wages for a half-full train. You can't eliminate the Engineer for half the trip. You can't tell the sleeping car passengers "Sorry, but due to low load factors we've eliminated the attendants; please make up your own bed." The fanbois refuse to accept anything but a full dining car, so you can't save any money there aside from reducing food quality and going to plastic plates, paper tablecloths and fake flowers (oh, wait, all that's been done.) You can't abolish the Conductor.
So...want to make a difference? Ride Amtrak. EVERY TRIP, EVERY TIME. Doesn't matter. No excuses. You ride Amtrak. And your friends. And your families. Every trip. Every time. Amtrak.
100% of your trips.
Even if it takes 10 times longer.
Even if it costs 4 times more.
Even if your kids will disown you.
Or don't complain when it's gone.