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Jonathan H. Klein papers

1980-2006
 Collection
Accession: 2546

Abstract

Jonathan H. Klein (1949-) spent his professional career as a specialist in passenger railroad and rail transit equipment economics. The papers consist of a small sample of reports and memoranda written or collected by Klein in his role as a manager in charge of rail passenger equipment procurement, performance and maintenance. The agencies represented are SEPTA, Chicago Transit Authority, BART, LAMTA and Amtrak.

Dates

  • 1980-2006

Creator

Extent

1.5 Linear Feet

General Physical Description

2 cartons.

Biographical Note

Jonathan H. Klein (1949-) spent his professional career as a specialist in passenger railroad and rail transit equipment economics. Klein was born on January 9, 1949 and received a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

He began his career as a supervisor on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in 1976 and from 1980 to 1985 was Chief Mechanical Officer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) but resigned after top management cut maintenance budgets to the point that Klein feared they would eventually create safety issues. After a five-month interval, he became Director of Customer Service for railcar manufacturer Bombardier Corporation from 1985 to 1988. He was then recruited by his former superior at SEPTA, Frank Wilson (1949-), to be Senior Director of Maintenance & Engineering for the Chicago Transit Authority. where he was part of a reform team of outsiders but soon resigned because of conflicts with the local patronage apparatus and the stresses of a long-distance commuter marriage. He then returned to SEPTA as Deputy Treasurer from 1989 to 1992.

Thereafter, he worked as a consultant to other metropolitan transit authorities, including the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) during the 1990s and to development banks and the investment community on transit projects. In 2002, he was brought by David Gunn (1937-), under whom he had worked at SEPTA, to be Chief Mechanical Officer of Amtrak, where he worked on Gunn's program of streamlining operations and controlling costs in response to Congressional criticisms and threats to cut off funding. Resigning on July 15, 2004, he joined the consulting firm of Harral-Winner-Thompson-Sharp-Klein, Inc. at Providence, Rhode Island.

Scope and Content

The papers consist of a small selection of reports and memoranda written or collected by Jonathan H. Klein in his role as a manager in charge of rail passenger equipment procurement, performance and maintenance. The agencies represented are SEPTA, Chicago Transit Authority, BART, LAMTA and Amtrak.

SEPTA revenue reports (1990-1992) show the cash flow from tickets, tokens, passes, etc. The Amtrak reports include the second quarter FY2004 quarterly review, which shows the Mechanical Department's accomplishments as part of David Gunn's effort to cut costs, defend basic services from Congressional opposition, and puttlng programs in place to save the troubled Acela program.

Three files represent a personal selection of documents from controversial episodes in Klein's career, prefaced by Klein's explanatory notes. The first involves his tenure as Chief Mechanical Officer of SEPTA and includes accounts of dysfunctional management, death threats and crank letters, and items from the 108-day rail strike of 1983 that followed SEPTA's takeover of direct commuter rail operations and the change from legacy steam-railroad wage rates and work rules to the reduced wages and privileges of transit workers.

A file on the Chicago Transit Authority deals with the incompetence and management dysfunctionality caused by the intrusion of local machine politics into the running of the Authority, especially its negative effects on track and equipment maintenance and the harassment of outsiders. As Klein was spending most of his time in Chicago while his family remained in the New York suburbs, there are letters from his young son wondering when his father will be at home.

The last file is a transcript of testimony in a suit brought by the State of New York against Amtrak over the poor results of a program to offer high-speed service with rebuilt "Turboliner" trains. Klein gives his opinion that collusion between officers of the State and Amtrak produced a sub-par rebuilding job that resulted in increased operating costs.

Access Restrictions

Certain files are closed for 25 years after the date of their creation. Please contact an archivist for more information.

Related Material

California State Railroad Museum Library and Archives, Jonathan Klein papers, MSS 728; Specifications for equipment for CalTrain service between San Francisco and San Jose.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Jonathan H. Klein papers
Status:
Author:
Christopher T. Baer
Date:
2017
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400