Rail Passengers Association: Amtrak Should Adopt a Passenger-Centric Approach

Secaucus Junction
An Amtrak train passes through Secaucus Junction in Secaucus, N.J., in February 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Amtrak should adopt a passenger-centric approach to increase ridership, improve service and improve its national rail network, the head of the Rail Passengers Association (RPA) said in a speech.

“Passenger rail is enjoying its strongest support in decades. Riders are demanding more and better trains and Congress has responded by increasing appropriations for both Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019,” RPA CEO Jim Mathews said in his prepared remarks. “But, this is not enough. Amtrak leadership needs to go further, to modernize Amtrak’s rolling stock, to embrace a wholly customer-centric approach to running the railroad, to protect the integrity of the country’s interstate train network, and to upgrade services like meals and station staffing rather than downgrade.”

In the address to be delivered at the RailNation-Miami conference, Mathews called on Amtrak to take real steps to preserve existing service while expanding routes and frequencies, improve performance and ensure safe travel across the country. The vision focuses on “A Connected America,” a concept that aims to put 80 percent of Americans within 25 miles of a rail station within 25 years and one where the interstate train network serves as an economic engine for communities, reduces environmental pollution and increases transportation safety.

To elevate Amtrak to a position where the railroad can make appropriate levels of change that benefit the communities along its network, RPA identified three areas where Amtrak can grow and develop a foundation for “A Connected America.” They are more trains, better trains and a commitment to infrastructure and support.

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