Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

Flynn Says Little New in WaPo Interview

July 18, 2020

Amtrak President William Flynn agreed to an interview with The Washington Post this past week but the passenger carrier CEO said little that differs from public statements and letters he has written to Congress.

William Flynn

Flynn reiterated earlier comments that Amtrak’s ridership is rising but is not expected to recover this year to pre-pandemic levels.

He also declined to be more specific about what criteria Amtrak would use to determine when to resume operating long distance trains on a daily basis rather than the tri-weekly basis that Amtrak is planning starting Oct. 1.

The interview appeared to have been done before a House Appropriations Committee voted to give Amtrak additional funding for federal fiscal year 2021 with the mandate that those trains continue to operate daily.

As he has in letters to Congress, Flynn said that ridership on the long distance trains declines dramatically during the winter.

“It makes sense to us to reduce a number of the trains to three times a week, evaluate those in the winter, plan for restoration in the late spring or early summer when the ridership typically returns,” Flynn said.

He added that Amtrak is “ . . . absolutely committed to operating the long-distance network. That’s a very clear commitment on the part of the company.”

The Amtrak CEO said the carrier is currently seeking to appeal to potential new riders because it understands “that that companies and customers are going to change their travel patterns. They may travel less or differently.”

He said during a recent trip from Washington to New York the Amtrak personnel he spoke with said they are seeing many new riders, particularly young passengers who were riding a train for the first time.

“That’s exciting because an important part of our work going forward is to create new customers and not only have them be a one-time rider, but become a lifelong customer of Amtrak,” Flynn said.

Flynn justified an announced 20 percent staff reduction – which would be 3,700 of the carrier’s  18,000 workers. – as a necessary change to match the level of customer demand Amtrak expects to see in the near and immediate term.

He reiterated that Amtrak expects ridership to be half of what it was in 2019.

Flynn said Amtrak has told Congress it will be reducing costs and that includes reducing its workforce.

“That’s very painful. It’s nothing we ever want to do, but believe we need to,” he said.

Flynn declined to predict when Amtrak would return to its pre-pandemic levels of service.

He said that will hinge on “the state of the country and the state of this pandemic. Has it subsided dramatically? Has demand [for travel] begun to improve?”

The demand for travel by train and in general is something Flynn said Amtrak managers will be watching closely.

Flynn said Amtrak continues to invest for the long term, but most of the examples that he cited involve service improvements in the Northeast Corridor.

That includes the new Acela train sets, the opening of Moynihan Train Hall in New York, and a renovation of 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

He did mention taking delivery of new locomotives used in the national network and working toward ordering new equipment to replace rolling stock other than that used by the Acela service.

Without giving any examples, Flynn said Amtrak is “very much committed to the expansion of intercity travel. We think it’s a key component of our country’s longer-term mobility strategy.”

Baltimore Joining Chicago Union Station in Pilot Program for Upgraded Amtrak Wi-Fi Service

February 4, 2017

Amtrak said this week that Baltimore Penn Station will join Chicago Union Station in receiving enhanced Wi-Fi service.

Amtrak 4The pilot program includes increased connectivity and reliability, as well as two new 30-inch high-top work stations that host charging outlets for laptops, tablets and cell phones.

In a news release, Amtrak said the upgrade will replace technology installed in 2010.

“These improvements are a much-anticipated boost for our customers as the wireless connectivity in-station should be similar to what customers experience on their home networks, and will ensure they stay connected throughout their journey,” said Jason Molfetas, Amtrak’s executive vice president of marketing and business development. “Baltimore Penn is the eighth busiest station in our national network so it was a natural fit to pilot the Wi-Fi improvements to the city’s thousands of daily commuters and local students.”

Amtrak said that Northeast Corridor passengers and those aboard trains in the Midwest will be able to access through the Wi-Fi network The Washington Post, which is now the exclusive news provider for Amtrak.

Previously Amtrak only provided free Washington Post content on Acela Express trains.