Amtrak’s Bill Flynn to retire; Stephen Gardner named president and CEO

Dec. 16, 2021
The transition will become effective Jan. 17, 2022, with Flynn remaining as an advisor to Gardner through the end of the fiscal year.

Bill Flynn, who has led Amtrak since April 2020, will retire and pass leadership of the railroad to Stephen Gardner, who currently serves as Amtrak’s president. The change is effective Jan. 17, 2022, with Flynn remaining in an advisor role through the end of the fiscal year – a move Flynn benefited from when he took over the role from Richard Anderson.

Flynn joined the passenger railroad as president and CEO before the roles were split in Dec. 2020 to balance the joint priorities of bringing Amtrak through the COVID-19 health crisis while building on the railroad’s foundation to ensure the railroad remained viable.

“I want to thank Bill Flynn for his strong and steady hand leading Amtrak and navigating a global pandemic,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “This was one of Amtrak’s most challenging periods in its 50-year history. Bill has built a strong foundation for continued safe and reliable operations, innovation and growth.”

Amtrak credits Flynn with leading the through COVID-19 recovery efforts, prioritizing safety and customer experience initiatives, advancing major infrastructure projects, expanding the company’s diversity and inclusion and executing major equipment procurements, all to position the company for the future.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law recently signed by President Joe Biden includes $102 billion for passenger rail, which is the largest single investment since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. Coscia explains the federal investment made the timing right for a transition of leadership.

“Stephen has the business skills, industry knowledge and vision to improve and modernize service for the next generation of Amtrak’s customers,” said Coscia.

Gardner joined Amtrak in 2009 and has served in several positions. He has been responsible for efforts to expand state-supported service partnerships, increase Acela capacity, improve Northeast Corridor infrastructure and develop Amtrak’s strategic plan. As president, Gardner has led the railroad’s day-to-day operations, customer growth initiatives and strategies to modernize Amtrak’s products, services, infrastructure and fleet.

“I’m truly humbled and honored to assume this role for America’s Railroad,” Gardner said. “With the help of the bipartisan infrastructure investment, I’m excited about working with our state, commuter and freight rail and federal partners to improve our assets, renew our fleet and expand Amtrak service to more communities. Having started my railroad career as an Amtrak intern, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to help lead the incredible team of dedicated men and women at Amtrak.”

In reaction to the news, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg issued the following statement:

“When Amtrak Board elected Bill Flynn as CEO in February 2020, no one could have imagined the challenges that the coming months would bring. Bill has ably led Amtrak through a period of historic upheaval, working tirelessly to keep workers and riders safe. We are grateful for his service. Now, as Amtrak continues its robust recovery from the pandemic and lays the groundwork to expand and improve service with the resources in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we at the Department of Transportation look forward to working with incoming CEO Stephen Gardner.

Stephen has spent practically his entire career in rail—beginning as a brakeman and trackworker—and has served as Amtrak's President for the past year. As he steps into this new role, we can be sure that Amtrak, and all who rely on its service, will benefit from his lifetime of expertise in rail and transportation.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.