Amtrak Board Holds Public Meeting in Richmond
December 1, 2023
Amtrak’s Board of Directors held its annual public meeting this afternoon at the Richmond Main Street Station, where company leaders outlined goals for new service and equipment while fielding questions from passengers.
Directors on Amtrak’s Board, joined by members of the company’s executive team, gave presentations on the railroad’s fleet acquisition program and explained how they’re utilizing funding opportunities from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to partner with states on new routes and expanded service. Attendees also heard from Virginia and North Carolina rail officials on how they are working with Amtrak to develop the Southeast rail corridor between Washington, D.C., Richmond, and Raleigh.
The presentations won’t be news for anyone who’s attended a RailNation, and you can see most of the information presented today in Amtrak’s presentation to our association in Meridian. However, the public meeting – an annual requirement established by the BIL, and one that Rail Passengers fought to include in the final legislation – did provide an important platform for the public to pose questions directly to the Board. Topics included the equipment shortage, marketing strategy, and on-time performance.
Rail Passengers President and CEO Jim Mathews was in attendance and focused on the role that the Amtrak Board could play in improving on-time performance and laying a foundation for new services. Mathews pointed to the Surface Transportation Board’s recent creation of a Passenger Rail Advisory Committee, the case before the STB regarding Union Pacific’s dispatching of the Sunset Limited, and increased passenger rail funding, saying the stars were aligned for the establishment of higher quality service across the U.S.
Amtrak Targets Full Ridership Restoration
Amtrak was also able to point to positive ridership trends in Fiscal Year 2023, while simultaneously setting a goal for record ridership in the coming year.
The company reported that more than 28 million customers rode Amtrak nationwide, a 25% increase over FY22. Additionally, company executives publicly stated they want to carry more than 32.8 million passengers in FY24, which would be a ridership record for the railroad.
“Amtrak ridership continues to set post-pandemic records thanks to our customers who were anxious to travel again and attracted to the many benefits of train travel. This resurgence was made possible by our dedicated employees, our many state and host railroad partners, and ongoing support from the Biden Administration and Congress,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “We’re inspired by the soaring demand for intercity passenger rail and are eager to continue connecting more people and places.”
"On behalf of Amtrak’s onboard service staff, I want to thank the Rail Passengers Association for honoring their hard work with this award. The past couple years have indeed been difficult for Amtrak onboard service staff – coping with furloughs and job insecurity, adapting to changing protocols and services, not to mention the unfortunate events such as a tragic derailment and a fatal shooting. Nevertheless, our dedicated members at Amtrak have handled these hurdles with the care, attention and diligence for which they’re known. We thank Rail Passengers for their acknowledgement of our members’ hard work and, as always, look forward to seeing you on the rails."
Arthur Maratea, TCU/IAM National President
December 21, 2021, on the Association awarding its 2021 Golden Spike Award to the Frontline Amtrak Employees.