News & Reviews News Wire Biden to nominate five to Amtrak board (updated)

Biden to nominate five to Amtrak board (updated)

By Trains Staff | April 29, 2022

| Last updated on March 16, 2024

Nominees include current board chairman Coscia

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Man in coat and tie with gray hair and glasses
Anthony Coscia, the current chairman, will be renominated to the Amtrak board. Amtrak

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will nominate five people, including current chairman Anthony Coscia, to the Amtrak board of directors, the White House has announced.

Reuters initially reported the nominations, citing information from “an official.”

Coscia been on the board since 2010, and was elected as its chairman in 2013. He would be joined by Christopher Koos, mayor of Normal, Ill.; David Capozzi, former executive director of the U.S. Access Board and former national advocacy director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America; Samuel Lathem, retired Delaware State AFL-CIO president and a former autoworker active in a number of civic organizations; and Robin Wiessmann, executive director and chief executive of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Koos was previously nominated to the board in 2020, but the Senate never acted on the nomination. He was featured in a Trains Interview in the September 2020 issue of the magazine, now available online.

The 10-member board also includes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. Senate Republicans can select the other three nominees.

Under reforms required in the Surface Transportation Investment Act reauthorization, the board is required to include at least two members each from Northeast Corridor, state-supported, and long-distance routes [see “Infrastructure bill addresses Amtrak priorities, congressional requirements,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 8, 2021]. Of the five nominees, only Koos is from outside of the Northeast.

— Updated at 3:15 p.m. CDT with White House announcement; updated at 3:55 p.m. with link to Chris Koos interview.

31 thoughts on “Biden to nominate five to Amtrak board (updated)

  1. Off topic … Question. Are any of the new Midwest Siemens cars in service? Saw a string of them in storage in Chicago Union Station, the south side. Hiawatha is still Amfleet/ Horizon mixed consists.

    On the Hiawatha, it appears there’s a Midwest Siemens loco on each end, which is a lot of beef to schlep compared to the former CabBage cars on the east end of the consists now gone away. I assume checked baggage has likewise gone away but I’ve not looked that up.

  2. Some of us think Wick saw the reality of Amtrak and got off the sinking ship. Gardner knows only NEC, does not support LD and is a creature of the swamp.

    1. But President Biden apparently likes Stevie. Thinks he’s the cat’s meow. That’s because “Amtrak Joe” is really only NEC WAS-Wilmington, Del. Joe.

  3. Charles, you’re welcome. The sad part is Wick left too soon or was pushed out. He was doing what needed to be done, transform Amtrak back into a passenger railroad, following the example of Paul Reistrup, Graham Claytor, and David Gunn.

    1. It was reported his wife wanted him out after NS, didn’t want him to keep working at another job.

  4. Regarding appointing people with railroad experience to the Amtrak BOD, no one mentioned Wick Moorman.

    1. JEFFREY — I realized that omission as soon as I hit the “send” button. Thanks for correcting.

  5. As a retiree with 40 yrs from AMCRASH, I say get ride of half the so-called politicians and put RR retirees that have at least 30yrs under their belt on the board from all the crafts. then you’ll get things done without all the backroom BS that happens

  6. Just when in getting rid of “delta Dick” and the destruction he caused with his misguided costing, I thought that maybe we could get some folks on the board with some real Passenger rail experience, we again revert back again to “it’s who you know”. Might as well bring back Hunter Biden to the board. Know Republicans are anti passenger service but this Board does nothing to give them any comforting thoughts that “well maybe appointing a competent, knowledge board we could give some support.”
    Uncle Otto, New Richmond, WI

  7. At least here, at last, we have an Amtrak Board nominee in Mayor Koos who articulates a proper role for the long-distance network. I will strongly support him. But he may be lonely on the new Board!

    The remaining Biden appointments range from profoundly disappointing in the case of current Board Chair Coscia to interesting with repect to David Caposi (who should strongly advocate for special needs ridership) to unknown otherwise. Coscia is the co-author with the departed Richard Anderson and current CEO Stephen Gardner of the systematic attack on the national network. How can the Biden team not recognize that 2010-2022 is long enough for Coscia on the Board? With all due respect advocates can not support Mr. Coscia’s reappointment.

    More of concern is that there is no element other than the one nomination of Mayor Koos, of the regional (out of the NEC) balance called for in the Amtrak law. Nor is there anyone (as we Amtrak supporters at least dreamed of seeing) from the Amtrak support/advocacy community, nor (as ever) anyone with any history/experience in actually selling passenger rail–in actually marketing the product. Indeed unless we consider Coscia and Gardner as rail-savvy, there is no one with any real rail experience either.

    This comment comes from a Biden supporter: This list is not inspiring–and seems like yet another round of at best corridor-centric nominees.

    I hope to be found wrong–but this certainly is NOT a list of persons qualified by any direct rail passenger operational or marketing expertise, unless we accept that Chairman Coscia learned positive lessons from the tri-quad weekly debacles and/or from the folly of consist(s) restraints, no real meals for 80% of riders and no meaningful advertising for the long-haul network in years. The continued absence of SILVER METEOR and the inconceivable stupidity of running the SOUTHWEST CHIEF with only one sleeper as the summer rush approaches, and the on-going denial of dining car service to coach passengers proves he did not!

    Given the recent history of GOP nominees being drawn from defeated ex-Congressmen with anti-national network voting records, we must none-the-less hope for better from them now–given that the nominees will come from the relatively supportive GOP Senate leadership. In the Congressional trenches passenger rail retains substantial cross-party support.

    1. CARL -Thanks for the post. Good to hear from one of the two Biden supporters left in this country, as I’m surely not one of those two, I’m rather to the other end. When Pete Buttigieg was named SecDOT last year, I posted on these pages I had hope for him, perhaps the one intelligent man in the sea of Biden administration appointees with the combined IQ of one gerbil. How wrong I was. We’d be further ahead with a SecDOT and an Amtrak Board appointed by a right-wing anti-Amtrak Republican administration.

      Of all the things wrong the Stalinist Biden administration, of which I could write a hundred pages, there is this: sheer incompetence. That fact ought to unite Republicans and Democrats.

    2. Everything will turn on the remaining appointments and on the ability of these obviously successful men already on this to learn and appreciate that, to quote former GOP Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, “Amtrak will either be national or it will be nothing”.

      I am nowhere near your view of the administration, but in this case I am presently disappointed and at best hoping for better.

    3. The “Stalinist Biden administration”? Please start writing your 100 pages and enlighten us to the comparison of Stalin. The RepubliCons get to put 3 choices on the Board too, you going to pick apart their choices like you have through out this thread? How about some of those choices that the last Administration picked?

  8. Coscia and Gardner. All the infrastructure money will go to the nec nothing else counts. Biden is corridor joe. Calling him Amtrak Joe makes my skin crawl

  9. Interesting point on the commuters. Although the equipment can go faster, they really don’t need speeds over 79 mph (FRA Class 4 track, no secondary ACSES carrier frequency, no cab signals or ATS)

    Why should they pay for what they don’t need?

  10. The one consistency re Amtrak is that nothing ever changes–at least not for the good.

    Between the Biden Administration, and both sides of the aisle of Congress, if they understood and gave a hoot re Amtrak’s self-inflicted wounds, they would refuse to continue circling the drain with this list of nominees to Amtrak’s Board. For example:
    1) The perpetuation of disregarding the common sense required in the initial Railpax legislation to appoint a Board whose members significant experience would be directly relevant towards successfully governing Amtrak. Such experience was required in railroad operations, food/beverage, customer experience, business/leisure travel, labor relations, HR, finance, etc. Instead, just more hacks unable to guide or support Amtrak.
    2) Why re-appoint Coscia, let alone as Board Chair, responsible for oversight of CEO Gardner? As Finance Committee Chair, Coscia tolerated, if not encouraged, the Northeastern commuter rail lines to pay between zip and practically nothing to Amtrak for using the NEC–operational and maintenance costs. This flagrant abuse of his position required Congress to reverse and demand Amtrak seriously charge those commuter rail lines. Yet, for this action and toleration of Gardner’s failures*, Coscia is rewarded to retain his Board position and role as Chair. As Mel Books said in History of the World Part 1, “it’s good to be king,” especially to be favored by Senator Schumer (D-NY).
    3) Despite the failure of Board oversight, The CEO, Gardner*, continues to escape responsibility for the worst possible decisions impacting Amtrak’s operational fluidity: over zealously cutting staff in pandemic with no thought how to timely bring back maintenance, OBS, T&E, and HR. This served a parallel purpose to cripple the long distance train network by reducing daily frequencies; now, insufficient staffing in those critical operational areas serve the agenda of Gardner, approved by Coscia. Let’s not forget the impact of Gardner’s lack of operational experience roosting on Capitol Hill, including: cost of failing to enlarge NEC maintenance bases to accommodate longer new Acelas; tearing out brand new galleys of CAF delivered diners to accommodate new dining version, etc.

    As long as Coscia is re-appointed as Chair, the heat is off Gardner–at the loss of the passenger. As long as Schumer’s pals are covered, and nobody is appointed to the Board who knows something, all are happy-those who do not rely upon long distance or regional trains.

    1. While your main points are valid I thought Coscia was appointed originally by Republicans. Also even if by the Ds what is his connection with Schumer

    2. Previously headed up NYNJPA; exclusively focused on NEC–serves Schumer’s interests, including ATK real estate development in NYC.

    3. The problem is, Mr. Singer, no one with the power exert oversight of folks like Anderson, Gardner, and Coscia are paying attention. How else could the evil triumvirate above gotten away with vandalizing the taxpayer-funded new CAF diners? No one’s watching! Coscia and Gardner know, going forward they can operate under a smokescreen thickened by the fact that the politicians of both parties would not be caught dead riding Amtrak anywhere for a legit transportation purpose. Not even in the NEC! NY Governor Kathy Hochul and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, both with big fat D’s next to their names a few months ago went to DC for meets and greets with the party faithful. And they flew. The spoiled rich brat, former MA Senator and US SecState John Kerry, now Biden’s “climate czar” was photographed traveling BOS-WAS…by plane and maskless no less back when masking was mandatory. The level of intellectual if not also moral bankruptcy of the Biden Transportation Department in their oversight of Amtrak is staggering.

    4. MARK — Hochul, Wu and Kerrry, three of the (many) Horses of Democrat Party Sickening Depravity. As an adopted Bay Stater yourself you must be real proud of the second and third.

      As for Hochul, if you ever wander across the state line from Pittsfield to Albany, why don’t you suggest she forget about the new Buffalo football stadium and spend that money on the Gateway Tunnels.

    1. David Gunn? Retired. Paul Reistrup? Retired. Graham Claytor, deceased.

      Sorry David, you’re out of luck.

  11. Haven’t heard of any of them (except Coscia, the incumbent). Don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, that I have no idea who any of them are.

    Could be, hypothetically, that some of them are senile, if so that’s a major prequalification in DeeCee these days. Does Amtrak have an Easter Bunny on staff?

  12. Sarcasm button on: “It’s not who you know, it’s who you_______.” Sarcasm button off. Knowledge of your assignment is no longer a pre-requisite for a gubmint job.

  13. Is Normal, IL the sister city of South Bend, IN? How does a mayor get plucked from relative obscurity (not that being a Mayor is a job most people could do well)?

    1. The Normal mayor has been a big supporter of the Lincoln service and was a mover in developing the new station in the Bloomington Normal region to provide a spark to redevelop downtown Normal and better serve Illinois State. So some relevant experience on the real-estate side and working with Amtrak

    2. After reading his interview he might not be so bad, given that he owns a bike shop. The mayors of South Bend, NYC (current and predecessor), and the one next to which I live give mayors a bad name.

  14. What a joke. Virtually no relevant experience. Love the payoff to Delaware AFL-CIO President. The challenges to Amtrak start with its Board.

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