Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn has appointed Stephen Gardner as President of the passenger railroad. Gardner’s appointment is part of a broader set of actions taken under Flynn’s leadership, working with the Board of Directors, to ensure that Amtrak is well positioned in fiscal year 2021 and beyond.
“We have two urgent challenges in 2021. We need to successfully manage our business through this global pandemic, and we need to take the right steps to ensure that Amtrak is strong and viable for the next 50 years and beyond,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “Establishing the President position reflects these significant responsibilities and creates a leadership structure to address the challenges ahead.”
As President, Gardner will drive the company’s effort to regain and grow customers and partners through delivery of Amtrak’s Annual Operating Plan and modernization of Amtrak’s products, services, infrastructure and fleet. Overseeing Marketing, Operations, Planning and Asset Development, and Government Affairs and Corporate Communications, Gardner will lead day-to-day operations and advance Amtrak’s long-term goals.
"We look forward to working with him and CEO Bill Flynn over the next year to ensure that Amtrak successfully weathers the coronavirus pandemic and returns to breaking ridership records and serving Americans in small towns and big cities across the country," said advocate Rail Passengers Association CEO Jim Mathews. "Mr. Gardner has the knowledge and background to carry out this mission, and with his experience in the Senate we believe he will be able to work effectively with Congress to realize the legislators' mandate."
Gardner is assuming these duties at a pivotal time. Just last week, Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia wrote that, to get through this pandemic, the company needed to rededicate itself to its congressional mandate to provide efficient and high-quality service throughout the U.S. without regard to profit. Rail Passengers' Mathews also indicated that Amtrak board chairman Tony Coscia declared the central role of long-distance service in Amtrak's future expansion plans, noting that Amtrak “trains provide essential transportation and contribute to both economic opportunity and quality of life in places that have long ago been abandoned by the airlines and bus carriers.”
Gardner currently serves as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating and Commercial Officer. Since coming to Amtrak in 2009, Gardner has been responsible for efforts to expand state-supported service partnerships, advance significant equipment procurements, improve Northeast Corridor infrastructure, formulate policies to carry out Amtrak’s strategic plan, and guide general development and planning activities.
Prior to Amtrak, Gardner worked on rail and transportation policy for the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Tom Carper (DE) and others. Early in his transportation career, Gardner held various positions with Guilford Rail System, now Pan Am Railways, and the Buckingham Branch Railroad in Virginia.
The Congress, too, has offered strong support for the breadth of Amtrak's business from the Northeast Corridor to long-distance National Network trains and new-growth initiatives. Just this month, Senate appropriators declared that “long-distance passenger rail routes and services should be sustained to ensure connectivity throughout the National Network.”