Evaluating the staffing implications of eliminating food service on the short-haul trains between ALB and NYP is extremely complicated. But one thing is clear: I generally do not believe Amtrak's assertion.
First, the LSA jobs frequently combine short haul runs with long-haul runs. Some LSAs have historically been based out of Sunnyside; others based out of Albany. In my experience, however, upon examining the various LSA jobs, the scheduling is quite favorable from a management perspective. In other words, LSAs typically do not spend most of their days sitting around on the payroll waiting for their runs. To the contrary, most of their working time is spent on the road. In evaluating the situation, it is also important to remember things like the extraboard, which covers mark offs and vacations.
With all of that said, it appears that about 7 round trip frequencies a day will loose their food service. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that an LSA punches in 30" prior to departure and punches out 30" after depature, this works out to about 343 hours of LSA time per week that might be able to be eliminated. I use the word "might" because it is not clear whether the elimination of these short haul frequencies will result in more "down" time for LSAs that staff the longer distance trains that will still enjoy food service.
It is possible that work rules and logistics require 13 full time jobs to cover these 343 hours. That would result in an average work week of about 26 hours of running time per LSA job, and roughly 14 hours per week of paid down time (up and above the 1 hour of padding that I already included above). My guess, however, is that Amtrak will not likely succeed in eliminating a full 13 jobs as a result of this measure.
As far as the 3 clerk positions go, I gather they are closing the Albany crew base and that the idea is to staff all trains out of the Sunnyside crew base. Nevertheless, something just sounds fishy to me about the assertion that Amtrak will be able to eliminate 3 clerk jobs (i.e. 120 hours of clerk time per week) simply by reducing LSA staffing needs by 343 per week.
As far as the 14 privately employed commisary employees go, I find it absolutely amusing to hear that it takes 14 employees to staff Gate Gourmet's commissary operation in Albany. It never took that many employees to run the commissary when Amtrak was operating the commisary with its own employees.
Finally, while reasonable minds will differ, I think food service is a much more important part of Amtrak's Empire Service transportation product than some of giving credit. The snack bars in Albany, Hudson, and Rhinecliff do not serve breakfast sandwhiches for my morning trips. While the Coffee Beanery does serve some premade sandwhiches during the lunch and dinner hours, there is nothing like that available in Hudson or Rhinecliff. Nor is there a beer stand in any of these stations that can sell carry out beer for passengers to imbibe after a long day's work. Even in NYP, where beer stands are plentiful, there will be no replacement for those who enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail to unwind at the end of a hard day.
There is nothing better than being able to complete a busy day's work and then rush to catch a train knowing that some type of food and beverage service will be available on board.
In my opinion, Amtrak is making a serious mistake. But then again, what else is new. Everytime we think we have reached rock bottom, Amtrak demonstrates that there is still further to go.