Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Amtrak's "Finest Hour"??

Today could well be Amtrak's "Finest Hour' in that never has public acceptance of Amtrak's services been stronger.

I'm inclined to hold this may be it; the closest could well be early '80's when W. Graham Claytor was at the throttle.

During that era, everything was new - Amfleets, Superliners, F-40's, and AEM-7's. While needless long distance routes had been eliminated by the Carter Cuts, other routes such as The Desert Wind and Pioneer were inaugurated (those were taken care of by the Mercer-Clinton Cuts). WGC, with his vast railroad and governmental experience appeared to be a "fit" that Amtrak had never previously enjoyed.

Even though patronage rose under WGC, it was still below the 1974 "gas crisis" levels. Today, Amtrak has left that mark in the rear view mirror.

So despite aging equipment, a fair amount of "horror story' travel experiences, and sky high fares, Amtrak today enjoys public acceptance not seen at any other time in its history. The momentum is there and should there be a Romney administration (if you care to believe as Karl Rove recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, there will be), they will choose not to disturb what is there (blow some wind, of course) - and by many a measurement, works.

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