Business

Alan S. Boyd, Nation’s First Transportation Chief, Dies at 98

As president of Amtrak, the government-supported National Railroad Passenger Corporation, from 1978 to 1982, Mr. Boyd fought cutbacks in funding and service. But subsidies dwindled. When he left, he said his chief regret was failing to establish permanent funding for Amtrak. With Airbus, from 1982 to 1992, his biggest sale was to Braniff Airlines in 1989, a $3.5 billion deal for 100 planes.

Alan Stephenson Boyd was born in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 20, 1922, to Clarence and Elizabeth (Stephenson) Boyd. His maternal great-grandfather, John Stephenson, had patented the first streetcar on rails in America, a horse-drawn coach that began operations in Manhattan in 1832.

Clarence Boyd, an engineer for the Florida Highway Department, died when Alan was 2. Ms. Boyd, Alan and his sister, Jean, lived with aunts and uncles until their mother married Walter Dopson, a lawyer for Seaboard Air Line Railroad.

Alan graduated from Macclenny-Glen High School (now Baker County High School) in northeast Florida in 1939. He enrolled at the University of Florida but flunked out at the end of his second year. He joined the Army Air Forces after the United States had entered World War II.

In 1943, he married Flavil Townsend, a high school teacher. They had one son, Mark. Mr. Boyd’s wife died in 2007. Besides his son, he is survived by two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mr. Boyd earned a law degree at the University of Virginia in 1948. He joined a Miami law firm whose senior partner was George A. Smathers, a two-term Democratic congressman who won a United States Senate seat in 1950. Mr. Boyd worked on the Smathers campaign.

A decade later, after he had become general counsel for the Florida State Turnpike Authority and chairman of the Florida Railroad and Public Utilities Commission, Mr. Boyd received a call from Senator Smathers in Washington. There was a vacancy on the Civil Aeronautics Board. Was he interested? He soon began his years in Washington.

Mr. Boyd, who retired in 1993, returned to Washington in 2017 for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Department of Transportation. He told a crowd of 500 dignitaries that soon after taking office in 1967, he had received a call from Henry Ford II, chief executive of Ford Motor at the time, who told him that American motorists didn’t want and would never use safety belts in their cars.

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