ATW Editor's Blog

The subsidy irony of Anderson’s new gig


Amtrak’s pick of former Delta Air Lines chairman and CEO Richard Anderson to be its president and CEO provides exactly the sort of tough leadership that the woefully-inadequate US passenger rail line needs.

Anderson, who will join Amtrak July 12, certainly has the smarts and the laser-like business skills that are needed. And Amtrak’s repair needs are many – in safety, reliability, customer service and financial. As my colleague Aaron Karp once blogged, Amtrak is a perpetual money-loser despite receiving billions of dollars of government subsidies each year. And on top of the annual subsidies, the outgoing Obama administration last year announced a Department of Transportation loan of $2.45 billion dollars for Amtrak’s northeast corridor – the largest such loan in the government’s history.

So here’s the irony. Anderson, the man who started all the government subsidy finger-pointing at the Gulf carriers, is about to take the helm of a heavily-government subsidized public transportation system.

 “I’m passionate about building strong businesses that create the best travel experience possible for customers,” Anderson said in a statement. And hopefully, one that doesn’t bleed the taxpayer year in, year out.

Karen Walker

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