UnderCover Waitress: I'm Back!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I'm Back!

It's good to go away, and it's good to be back home. 

I hate flying, but I love riding Amtrak. I have been on quite a few of their trains lately. Was inspired for my first post back by an experience in a dining car. My companions and I were having a good time at breakfast and were chatty, as always, with the working stiffs in the "restaurant." The manager of the dining car approached and asked us to please remind her of our room numbers and what we had ordered. We already had our food so were a little confused but, of course, we politely complied.

It turned out one of the meal tickets from the morning meal was missing. The missing ticket was not from our table. The manager explained that if she could not find the missing ticket, she would have to pay for the meal herself.

I was shocked. Lord knows I've seen enough shenanigans that exploit the working stiff in food service, but a fly could probably have flown in my mouth. 

I started to look into the finances of Amtrak, and was shocked by what I found. An article in the Washington Post from last March titled, "Amtrak loses a ton of money each year. It doesn't have to." explains the problem, at least in part. Even with government subsidies, my favorite (cross-country) routes are simply not profitable. 

I hope there is a way to salvage Amtrak without just cutting out the less profitable routes. I seem to recall that is what AC Transit did in the eighties, and a busy and useful bus service became skeletal. So, what are the options? Should we raise prices of tickets? Or would that just discourage riding the train even more? 

I still say digging into the wages of a lower-paid worker to save a few bucks on a meal ticket seems a bit draconian. I understand that it encourages efficiency, but an inefficient worker is unlikely to last in the job. 

What do you think? Have you ever ridden Amtrak? How did you like it? Leave your comment below; I look forward to reading your thoughts. 


  1. We have VIA on this side of the border. It does some of the long haul across the country service- though that's been cut back a bit in more recent years, no thanks to the current jackals in power.

    I'm more used to their service between here and Toronto, which I've always found enjoyable and relaxation. Relatively speaking, it's a shorter trip than something that takes days, but it's less confining than bus travel, and less of a hassle than air travel.

    Passenger rail service is never going to be profitable, but it does serve a valuable purpose, and it needs to be nurtured, not cut.

  2. Yes, much more pleasant than the bus and free of the hassle of flying. I do hope we maintain it down here.


Please share your thoughts.