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Passenger association, union applaud Amtrak board nominations

By | May 2, 2022

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Rail Passengers Association logoWASHINGTON — The Rail Passengers Association and a major union reacted positively to nominations by President Joe Biden to fill five positions on the 10-member Amtrak board of directors.

“America’s passengers asked President Biden to make the Amtrak Board a top priority, and he did,” Rail Passengers Association CEO Jim Mathews said in a press release. The organization had called for the board positions to be filled a week earlier. “We applaud the White House for taking these concerns seriously, and we look forward to working closely with these nominees to understand their vision for Amtrak’s future.”

Also applauding the nominations was the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division.

“As has been the case since the very onset of his administration, President Biden has taken a measured and conscientious approach in making choices for the good of the nation,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said in a statement. “He continues to prioritize the concerns of labor as he and the DOT pursue an unprecedented and historic transformation of the nation’s passenger-rail network. … We hope for a swift confirmation process for the nominees so that Amtrak can expand its service thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provide robust employment opportunities well into the future.”

The White House announced the nominations Friday, including the renominations of current Board Chairman Anthony Coscia, and Normal, Ill., Mayor Chris Koosk, who had been nominated in 2020 by President Donald Trump, but was never confirmed by the Senate [see “Biden to nominate five …,” Trains News Wire, April 29, 2022].

15 thoughts on “Passenger association, union applaud Amtrak board nominations

  1. Won’t comment on RPA as I’m not an RPA member. Which leads to the question, Charles, why aren’t you, a longtime NARP member and occasional activist, not a member of RPA???? Answer, b/c I sent RPA and e-mail questioning an RPA policy I disagreed with (and stated why), but never received the courtesy of a polite acknowledgment, let alone a substantive reply.

    RPA is just another self-perpetuating bureaucracy. …. which seems to be a description of our entire nation from Maine to American Samoa. Key West to Guam.

  2. This “attaboy” statement from RPA surprised me, especially after re-reading the 31 almost wholly-negative coments posted last week when the appointsments announcement appeared on Newswire.

  3. Normal Mayor Chris Koos owns a bicycle shop. What value could he provide to the board? Normal has a high ridership as the depot is very near the campus of Illinois State and Chicago kids use it often. Doubt Koos even travels via Amtrak.

    1. Well it sounds like he would probably be the top qualified candidate to be Secretary of Transportation when Buttigieg runs for president.

  4. Got a notice from RPA it’s time to renew my membership.
    I wasn’t going to anyway but this is the final nail in the coffin.
    Jack Martin is turning over in his grave.

  5. I emphasize that although I am a past Vice Chair of the RPA these comments are NOT represented as RPA policy. But I can not provide a blanket endorsement of this slate.

    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 respect 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 new 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 do not think Biden has turned against a nation-wide Amtrak–but I doubt he had much involvement with these selections. But he is accountable for names put forward by his administration.

    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.

  6. Looks like someone in the Department of Transportation was given the task to quickly find some people willing to serve on the Amtrak board after the Rail Passengers Association complained about no nominees. Normal, IL mayor aside (he knows Amtrak), the selection process should have been more thorough no matter how long it takes to get it right.

  7. RPA is becoming too much of a cheerleader for Amtrak. At least Mr Koos, per the Trains interview, is a supporter of the long distance network. He does move the board’s geographic center west of Harrisburg.

    As for the rest of the nominees and the qualifications, at least they are better citizens than Hunter Biden. Since the three remaining board positions must be filled by the Senate Republican Leadership (McConnell?) and the fact that there are no corridor nominees, maybe we’ll see them nominate either retired western or or mid-western businessmen , or former Republican political consultants?

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