Thursday, June 21, 2012

The National Review Takes a Swing at Amtrak … and Misses!

As regulars here know, I’m an active member/supporter of NARP, the National Association of Railroad Passengers. NARP is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates more and better rail passenger service. There are more than 20,000 members in all 50 states, and those of us who serve on the governing body or board of directors do so at our own expense. That means attending meetings twice a year, one in Washington, DC, the other at another elsewhere in the country. There is also an office in Washington with a full time professional staff.

The National Review Online recently ran a column in which Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program (their equivalent to an airline’s frequent flyer incentives) was criticized for offering points (like miles) to people for the dollars they spend for NARP memberships. The writer fumed that this outrage would somehow increase the subsidy Amtrak gets from the federal government. And she went on to say that this was just one more example as to why – Are you ready? – Amtrak should be privatized.

Sorry, but that’s just plain dumb. Amtrak’s Guest Rewards offer is nothing more or less than a marketing promotion. By encouraging people to become NARP members, Amtrak is hoping to generate more business from a segment of the market most inclined to choose rail travel.

That’s the kind of knee-jerk right-wing nuttiness that NARP feels quite free to rebut in no uncertain terms.

The column generated the usual assortment of “witty” comments. Typical was the one who suggested that Amtrak be auctioned off on e-Bay. But not everyone, agreed. For instance, this guy, with tongue firmly in cheek:

"Thanks for the heads up! I saw this in my Google News feed on Amtrak. I found the E-mail, joined NARP and got bonus Amtrak Guest Rewards points! Thanks, National Review Online, for helping another Amtrak supporter find a way to show his support of Amtrak!"

Why not consider joining NARP? You’ll be joining the effort to improve passenger rail service throughout the U.S. And, by the way, NARP members receive a 10% discount on Amtrak rail fares. It’s a quick and easy way to say, “To hell with the National Review!”


Drew James said...

I've never understood how the GOP can be all about "getting government out of the way of business", but thinks that Congress should micro-manage Amtrak and comes up with brilliant ideas such as eliminating dining options. Maybe they should let the professionals actually run the company! I'm sure the article fails to mention that the same discount is available for many others as well - e.g. AAA members.

JIM LOOMIS said...

Yup. Go figure!