Carper Criticizes Amtrak Board Decision to Fire David Gunn

Says Decision is “Ill-Advised” and Could Jeopardize Gunn’s Record of Progress at Amtrak

WASHINGTON (Nov. 9, 2005) — Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a former Amtrak Board Member, issued the following statement on the Amtrak Board’s decision today to fire Amtrak President and CEO David Gunn: “Today’s decision to fire David Gunn is wrong, ill-advised and further proof that the Bush administration doesn’t want Amtrak to succeed. Strangely, this decision comes just a week after the Senate overwhelmingly approved an Amtrak reform bill in one of the most pro-Amtrak votes I’ve ever seen. Ninety-three senators are now on record supporting a meaningful and thoughtful Amtrak reform bill. It’s unfortunate that the administration, through the Board, would rather play games with Amtrak’s management than engage Congress on how to make Amtrak stronger. Today’s action was taken by a weak Board of Directors with questionable legitimacy. This seven-member Board has just four current members, and only one of them – David Laney – has been confirmed by the Senate. Two of the members – Floyd Hall and Enrique Sosa – have no transportation background and were recess appointments whose terms will expire when Congress adjourns for the year. On the other hand, David Gunn has a great deal of experience running a railroad and has proven that at Amtrak. He has increased ridership and revenue, lowered the employee headcount, and invested in capital improvements designed to move the Northeast Corridor toward a state of good repair. To me, that’s a track record the Bush administration should be proud of. Unfortunately, today’s decision is just one in a long line of poorly thought-out proposals to come out of the Bush administration. Earlier this year, the administration proposed to eliminate all funding for Amtrak and reform it through the bankruptcy courts. Then they proposed splitting off the Northeast Corridor. Now they’re firing someone who’s actually made real progress at bringing some much-needed change to Amtrak. Firing Mr. Gunn will be counter-productive and could jeopardize much of the progress Amtrak has made under his leadership.”