Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,623
Location
Baltimore. MD
By the way, NEC fares seem to be moderating. I saw a Baltimore-Washington advance purchase coach fare at $8, that's the same as a MARC fare. There are lots being offered for $15. When I was working, the fares could be as high as $30. I booked an Acela trip to Boston that cost $125, in the past it's been at least $160. My last trip to Philly was in the low bucket ranges of $35 - $45, I've seen Northeast Regional coach fares as high as $80 for the 90-mile ride.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,623
Location
Baltimore. MD
$2200 for two people in a bedroom for two days. for $1800 two people on a cruise for ten day.
I just priced a Baltimore-LAX trip for two people. $1,400 for a three night trip. OK, $2,000 if you do Chicago to LA on the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, but that's a 4 night trip. And you get a couple hundred off if you qualify for the senior discount. (Coach fare is ~$250 per person.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,342
Location
Spring Creek, NC
Well, yeah. Congress didn't appropriate $66 billion to Amtrak for it to run land cruises. If they can sell sleeper space at the current high prices, it will help cross-subsidize the basic transportation that's Amtrak's main mission.

Well, that begs the question whether Amtrak, as a taxpayer-subsidized public facility, should be constraining supply in a way that price-gouges a whole class of travelers. Perhaps better public policy would be to buy enough trainsets to run enough trains to support the whole operation with higher volume and lower fares.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,325
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Well, that begs the question whether Amtrak, as a taxpayer-subsidized public facility, should be constraining supply in a way that price-gouges a whole class of travelers. Perhaps better public policy would be to buy enough trainsets to run enough trains to support the whole operation with higher volume and lower fares.
That is what is being attempted through the $66B grant and the new authorization, buying more rolling stock fixing long standing infrastructure problems and upgrading some station facilities. Unfortunately these things cannot be made to appear magically in a flash.. The funding together with the change in Amtrak's governance structure and change in its mission, which have all been legislated now, are the necessary first steps to get there.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
384
Location
East San Diego County
It will be interesting to see how much of this 66 billion will actually end up being used for providing Amtrak customers with a better traveling experience. All too often, a good percentage of the money which Washington approves to help out some industry or business ends up being siphoned off to pension funds, retirement bonuses & buy-outs, the hiring of high priced “consultants” and “software designers” who have some connection to senior Washington politicians, etc.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,325
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
It will be interesting to see how much of this 66 billion will actually end up being used for providing Amtrak customers with a better traveling experience. All too often, a good percentage of the money which Washington approves to help out some industry or business ends up being siphoned off to pension funds, retirement bonuses & buy-outs, the hiring of high priced “consultants” and “software designers” who have some connection to senior Washington politicians, etc.
Of course we will see. But without additional legislation this money cannot be diverted legally to pension funds, retirement bonuses & buy-outs.

Of course all of the actual work will be done by contractors and all the accompanying hazards still exist.
 

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
384
Location
East San Diego County
The best indicator of how well the 66 billion is being or was spent will be in the AU posts that will appear in a year or so. If we’re still seeing reports of frequent delays caused by equipment break downs, aging rolling stock still in use, seedy station facilities, on-line software programs that don’t work, etc. there will be some justification for skepticism.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,325
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
The best indicator of how well the 66 billion is being or was spent will be in the AU posts that will appear in a year or so. If we’re still seeing reports of frequent delays caused by equipment break downs, aging rolling stock still in use, seedy station facilities, on-line software programs that don’t work, etc. there will be some justification for skepticism.
I can guarantee you will be skeptical after one year. I would say how things are in three to five years. Almost nothing will change in a year since even the Board changes cannot all happen within a year, so changing management is out in that time frame.There will be no new equipment that is not already in the pipeline, so nothing new for western LDs which is what most AU member care more about as it looks. Service changes like better food service that is already in the pipeline will happen sooner than that hopefully, but that has nothing to do with the $66 Billion.
 

Devil's Advocate

‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,226
Location
Texas
The best indicator of how well the 66 billion is being or was spent will be in the AU posts that will appear in a year or so. If we’re still seeing reports of frequent delays caused by equipment break downs, aging rolling stock still in use, seedy station facilities, on-line software programs that don’t work, etc. there will be some justification for skepticism.
In a year or so we should be able to go from legislative authorization to a modern fleet of cars, pristine stations, and new booking system or else a decade-long budget is a failure?
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,623
Location
Baltimore. MD
Of course we will see. But without additional legislation this money cannot be diverted legally to pension funds, retirement bonuses & buy-outs.

Of course all of the actual work will be done by contractors and all the accompanying hazards still exist.
You know, I'll bet a lot of folks in this group wouldn't mind spending some of that $$$ on a retirement bonus/buy-out for Mr. Gardner, if it means they can get rid of him. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,325
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
I wonder if the original poster ever worked for a large bureaucracy (government or private.)
'Tis not even that. In one year the first tranche (1/10th) of the whole amount will barely start flowing. You do not just write a 6 Billion dollar check with no concrete plans and commitments.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
822
Returning to the fares fair..I noticed the Southwest Chief from Chi to Lax one person roomette low bucket of $623 on many dates in the next few weeks. Last May virtually every fare was $899. I would imagine Amtrak had problems selling them at that third bucket tier.

So much for the theory of the furthest out the lower the fare. If they were $623 instead of $899 back then I would have booked a trip. I already have my itinerary booked. I have noticed a couple of trips in the next two weeks have been canceled. That uncertainty as part of a circle trip is tough.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jis

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,748
Location
Washington State
I would imagine Amtrak had problems selling them at that third bucket tier.

So much for the theory of the furthest out the lower the fare. If they were $623 instead of $899 back then I would have booked a trip.
That theory has been out of date and largely inapplicable for quite awhile now. Amtrak stopped routinely offering low buckets when inventory is released for sale 11 months out a few years ago as their yield management practices got more sophisticated. In the last year they have gotten even more aggressive, in many cases initially releasing inventory only in the top couple buckets, then adjusting as actual demand develops (or doesn't).

Redistributing inventory across the fare buckets in response to demand is a normal and expected part of managing yield.
 
Last edited:

Eric in East County

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
384
Location
East San Diego County
I can guarantee you will be skeptical after one year. I would say how things are in three to five years. Almost nothing will change in a year since even the Board changes cannot all happen within a year, so changing management is out in that time frame.There will be no new equipment that is not already in the pipeline, so nothing new for western LDs which is what most AU member care more about as it looks. Service changes like better food service that is already in the pipeline will happen sooner than that hopefully, but that has nothing to do with the $66 Billion.
So how was the money used that appropriated three to five years ago?
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,800
Location
Socal
aging rolling stock still in use
How is Amtrak supposed to replace all of it's aging rolling stock in a year? The new Acela sets should be in use, and hopefully the Siemens venture sets. But other than that it'd be impossible for them to improve beyond that with rolling stock
 

Trogdor

BURNiNATOR
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
5,918
Location
Here
Perhaps it’s now worth reminding folks (or informing, for the first time, those unaware of the process) that there’s a difference between authorization and appropriation. A $66 billion authorization means nothing if the money does not get appropriated in the annual budget.

At best, you *might* get one year’s appropriation before the midterm elections. If we have a functioning government, you might even get a couple more years, or it might get whittled away in the name of “deficit reduction” or something. Then it’s up to whoever wins the 2024 presidential election to put the funding into the budget, and whoever is in the house and the senate to either agree with that budget or make whatever amendments they will make.

Amtrak’s history is littered with authorized money that never made it to their bank account.

All told, I will eat my hat if Amtrak gets $66 billion in the next 10 years.
 

Todd

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 8, 2021
Messages
69
Location
Buffalo, NY
yeah, when I booked my cross-country loop 11 months in advance to this April, I like planning way in advance...everything was lowest bucket...under new system I would not be travelling Amtrak in April...everything beyond June right now is priced in highest bucket for cross-country...
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,325
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Perhaps it’s now worth reminding folks (or informing, for the first time, those unaware of the process) that there’s a difference between authorization and appropriation. A $66 billion authorization means nothing if the money does not get appropriated in the annual budget.

At best, you *might* get one year’s appropriation before the midterm elections. If we have a functioning government, you might even get a couple more years, or it might get whittled away in the name of “deficit reduction” or something. Then it’s up to whoever wins the 2024 presidential election to put the funding into the budget, and whoever is in the house and the senate to either agree with that budget or make whatever amendments they will make.

Amtrak’s history is littered with authorized money that never made it to their bank account.

All told, I will eat my hat if Amtrak gets $66 billion in the next 10 years.
The $66 Billion is not authorization. It is appropriation for disbursement over the next five years and has to be spent within the next ten years. There is an additional ~$40 Billion that is the normal authorization over the next five years.

The confusion arises because multiple original bills were stapled together to vote on as a single package as a matter of legislative convenience. Among others, the Infrastructure Bill which is almost all appropriation, was stapled with the 5 year DoT Authorization Bill (including Amtrak), and a few other Authorizations.

The $66 Billion is in the Infrastructure appropriated part, and the a little less than $40 Billion authorization over 5 years is in the DoT Authorization part. That part also contains the Amtrak Board restructuring and redefinition of its reason for existence.

Hope this clarifies more than it confuses. RPA has a good writeup on this, I'll look for it and post a link when I find a little more time.

As a matter of covering all bases I would point out that uncommitted portions of appropriated money can always be rescinded. Nothing is quite certain in life. OTOH, the bill did pass with considerable bipartisan support, so that is something to consider too.

Here is the breakdown in the RPA article:


Everything under Infrastructure (orange title) is appropriation. Stuff above that is authorization. At present FY22 is running under continuing resolution at the same level as FY21, pending passage of a FY2022 budget.
 
Last edited:

Barb Stout

Conductor
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
1,060
Location
Albuquerque, NM
I can guarantee you will be skeptical after one year. I would say how things are in three to five years. Almost nothing will change in a year since even the Board changes cannot all happen within a year, so changing management is out in that time frame.There will be no new equipment that is not already in the pipeline, so nothing new for western LDs which is what most AU member care more about as it looks. Service changes like better food service that is already in the pipeline will happen sooner than that hopefully, but that has nothing to do with the $66 Billion.
What about better website functionality? Could we get that within a year?
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,325
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
What about better website functionality? Could we get that within a year?
You could get lots of things within a year. What you cannot get is meaningful management change within a year and substantially Infrastructure Bill funded substantial infrastructure projects done within a year. I.e. while there is money in there to do things like Superliner rebuild/replace, that is unlikely to happen in a year.

A good management team that thought the website was a problem, could get it fixed in less than a year I would reckon. I have no idea what they prioritize how and why. If a Senator lights the fire under their rear end, it could possibly happen, though getting human resources that is competent enough to pull it off these days is another matter.
 
Last edited:

George

GAT
Joined
Jul 11, 2008
Messages
453
Location
San Francisco
The best indicator of how well the 66 billion is being or was spent will be in the AU posts that will appear in a year or so. If we’re still seeing reports of frequent delays caused by equipment break downs, aging rolling stock still in use, seedy station facilities, on-line software programs that don’t work, etc. there will be some justification for skepticism.
Minor quibble, but my guess is that it will take much longer than a year osr so for us to see significant improvements.
 
Top