Quantcast

amtrak looks to boost revenue

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

FormerOBS

Conductor
Joined
Feb 26, 2014
Messages
1,272
Location
Maryland, but a native of Ohio
Not sure what to make of this. Amtrak is called a "transportation behemoth" not once, but twice. The focus is so heavy on Wi-Fi that it's hard to remember Amtrak is a transportation company, and not an entertainment company. A dictionary could be employed to explain the difference between "vein" and "vain".

There's lots of nuance here if you look deeper than the surface. For example, I'm not sure how to take the reporter's advice: "Stick to the profitable routes." By some calculations, there are such things; by others, there aren't. The reporter doesn't say which are profitable, so I guess we have to figure that out for ourselves. The article implies (or states) that the "profitable" routes aren't being subjected to cuts in amenities. The article ought to tell us what routes these are. I, myself, haven't a clue.

What if I take the "profitable" train & it doesn't happen to be going to the place I want to go? Should I just stay aboard until it gets there??????? The idea of discontinuing our use of a train that is said to be unprofitable, is just a good way to cut the usage numbers of that train and guarantee that it will be eliminated.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,723
Location
Austin Texas
Interesting but I agree with Former OBS that its full of generalities and boilerplate and in a way misleading!

The WIFI issue is a big one on the NEC and on the big city routes ( CHI-STL/California ) but I personally think the money that will be used to try and provide it on the LD Routes would better be spent in other areas! (Amenities/equipment/ more trains etc)

"Profit" does not compute IMHO, using this word about passenger rail needs to be put to rest along with other politicians lies!!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Silver Star rider

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 17, 2010
Messages
236
Wi-Fi is becoming more like electric lights, air conditioning or heating, a necessity, not a luxury. The world is getting smaller all the time.

Cell phone data service is improving all the time. Some people are getting faster or just as fast speed as the best internet service providers. But before Amtrak can implement better Wi-Fi or even be able to provide Wi-Fi service on more trains, they need to have the major cell phone service providers upgrade their networks first

Cutting back on unprofitable routes? I am against it. A national rail company has to be national, not just for the northeast. But I do feel it is more likely to happen then wont.

Here in NYC, what people pay for the subway to go to work doesn't cover 100% of the operating costs. There are subsidies. The same should be for Amtrak, but what do I know? :)

Bruce-SSR
 

dlagrua

Conductor
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,152
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
If Amtrak is looking to boost revenue, they should first look at boosting on-time performance. A revenue increase also won't happen if you keep taking away amenities and giving those that contribute the most revenue less. At one point there was even a money saving proposal to stop putting sliced pickles on the burgers. (source of info; onboard EB crew)
 

amtkstn

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 2, 2008
Messages
721
Location
OK
The only way Amtrak is going to improve on time performance is to buy the tracks they run on.
 

Silver Star rider

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 17, 2010
Messages
236
The only way Amtrak is going to improve on time performance is to buy the tracks they run on.
And control the weather, spend more on maintenance, ie: bridge work, etc. Yes, I agree, there are lots of factors to make a train late. Not all can be avoided. Over the years I was delayed taking the Silver Meteor out of Orlando to New York Penn twice. One was slow speed orders due to construction of Sunrail. The second was to get a coach car replaced due to bad wheel set.

I am pretty sure it is cheaper to pay a usage fee (do they?) to run on someone elses track then paying for the right of way on their own track, maintenance and such??

Bruce-SSR
 
Last edited by a moderator:

beautifulplanet

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
337
Many people might think, when presented with a text, they first check who wrote it, and who published it. Some might think that with this article, the readers don't get to know anything about who this Leigh Haugh writer should be. And about the website that published the article, it says about itself on the "About us" page:

Guardian Liberty Voice. The new name fits perfectly with the company’s “small ‘L’” libertarian philosophy.
As others noted, the article mainly about Amtrak's amenity cuts doesn't seem to have much of a message, besides telling travelers to

1) "stick to riding the profitable routes" (which to many might seem like nonsense, f.e. implying that if one wants to travel from Tucson to El Paso, one should avoid riding Amtrak and take other transportation instead, just because it's the least profitable route)

2) "provide Amtrak with feedback" about "how it can improve" and "what aspects will make [customers] return"

3) and finally "let Congress know" about "negative experiences", because "If passengers report negative experiences to their representatives, it could make a big difference". Many might think that this could be counter-productive towards improvements in rail service, because of members of Congress hearing about negative experiences with Amtrak, it might lead them to support passenger rail (even) less.

Then again, with some libertarian politicians going as far as to propose that even all publicly funded health care should be eliminated, it surely seems possibly a largely irrelevant article on some little known libertarian website would like to see some more publicly funded rail to be eliminated (after all, one is supposed to only ride the profitable routes ;) ).

To some, it might seem like a better way - in case one really wants to reverse amenity cuts, or have amenities improved like the onboard Wi-Fi service - to advocate for more investment in passenger rail, f.e. towards the members of Congress, as better Wi-Fi needs investments, and providing amenities and free services in general also is an investment to increase ridership. F.e. airlines offer free amenities and services, like JetBlue offering free drinks, snacks and live TV, or Norwegian offers free Wi-Fi on its European flights. These and other transportation providers obviously came to the conclusion that it's not better to "boost profits" by charging for these things, but make the investments to provide them, to increase the passenger numbers. To many it might seem very unlikely that JetBlue will start to charge for drinks, snacks and live TV, or Norwegian will start to charge for Wi-Fi (as other airlines do), because this might be one way how they differentiate themselves from other travel options, and for lots of travelers these aspects may be part of the reason to choose that travel option (JetBlue or Norwegian in this example). So some might think, in the same way, it would make just as much sense for passenger rail to provide amenity kits or other services for free as well.

To some, this might be especially clear when it comes to the talk about the missing profitability of Amtrak's food service. To go along with the example above, JetBlue's food service will not be profitable as they hand out drinks and snacks for free, still everybody accepts it as part of their business model. Also regarding rail, Eurostar high-speed rail or the French TGVs still include a bistro car that most likely in itself is not profitable (though the rail operation as a whole is). And while Deutsche Bahn's ICE high-speed rail and IC higher-speed rail services made 364 million Euro (approx. $496 million) in profits in 2012, it was estimated its dining cars and bistros still showed a bottom-line expense of about 80 million Euro (approx. $109 million). Still Deutsche Bahn decided not to stop food service, because profits probably would not go up by 80 million Euro (approx. $109 million) as the "loss" can be elimianted from the books, instead probably profits might likely go down as in the past Deutsche Bahn's riders made it very clear they want food service onboard, as likely much less people would ride. After all, there has been an uproar every time some manager proposed to replace the dining car with even more (revenue-carrying) seats. Some might think, all of this became especially obvious when Austria's OeBB RailJet high-speed train, just introduced in 2008, had to have its bistro cars converted and expanded to full-flung dining cars in 2011 because customers revolted so much.

Some might think, instead of taking things out of context f.e. by mentioning the alleged "losses" of food service without explanation, what might actually help is more investment in rail. In conclusion some might think, what might lead to a much better situation for rail could be advocating for more and better trains and tracks, no matter if it is streetcars, heavy or light rail, commuter rail, conventional intercity rail or high-speed rail.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

tonys96

Conductor
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
1,376
Location
Texas
I just do not get the big darned deal about wifi. First, I get my work done either at home or at work, and do not need nor want to do office work while traveling. If you must do your job while traveling, that seems to me to be your poor time management showing up.

I will not be tethered to a computer by my job.

Second, my Ipad has cellular connectivity if it for some reason becomes absolutely necessary for me to get online. I pay for that. If I want it, I pay for it, and do not expect it to be paid for by other pax.

Lastly, to do the wifi on all routes would be prohibitively expensive, fares would have to increase......so all pax would have to pay more to travel, so some could use wifi.......isn't that afoul of the logic being used to cut "amenities"? The high rollers getting free wine and cheese at the expense of others, etc.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
26,008
Location
Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
I agree. Although my iPad has Internet connectivity, I only purchase the 30 day plan for the month I'm traveling (usually to the Gathering). The other 11 months of the year, I use my WiFi at home - for free. I wouldn't want to pay $5-$50 more per trip just so "someone" can have WiFi.

One reason I, and I think many others, like train travel is that it's a chance to get away. I'm not saying they're bad, but cell phones now keep us tied to work. Remember "the good old days" when you had to find a pay phone at the station/airport/hotel/on the road to "check in". Now you're tied to the office 24/7/365! :eek:

I would welcome the chance to get away. If you need to be connected, you should have to pay for it. (On your cell phone maybe?)
 

Silver Star rider

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 17, 2010
Messages
236
Free Wi-Fi isn't just for work alone. Yes, on the Acela Business class, that would be a selling point. But the world is getting smaller. Free Wi-Fi is getting news, bad or good instantly. Free Wi-Fi is hearing junior's first words just as he spoke them. Free Wi-Fi is getting sports scores instantly as the plays are happening.

Your on a overnight train, you can download the next days newspaper to read while traveling.

The ability to get online for some people will be like some railroads to get them to operate diesels only. It will take time, but once they do, they will never know how much life is more enjoyable.

And for the business traveler, getting free Wi-Fi for them is probably more for talking to family then to co-workers.

Bruce
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
Location
NJ
I just do not get the big darned deal about wifi. First, I get my work done either at home or at work, and do not need nor want to do office work while traveling. If you must do your job while traveling, that seems to me to be your poor time management showing up.

I will not be tethered to a computer by my job.

Second, my Ipad has cellular connectivity if it for some reason becomes absolutely necessary for me to get online. I pay for that. If I want it, I pay for it, and do not expect it to be paid for by other pax.

Lastly, to do the wifi on all routes would be prohibitively expensive, fares would have to increase......so all pax would have to pay more to travel, so some could use wifi.......isn't that afoul of the logic being used to cut "amenities"? The high rollers getting free wine and cheese at the expense of others, etc.
Your continued employment fascinates me. If one of my employees started telling me when and where they were going to work on my time, they would become former employees so fast I think id be shipping their personals to them.

And if you are working on call, as a great many Americans do, you are on my time. And I'd rather you not use company data to work.
 

tonys96

Conductor
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
1,376
Location
Texas
I just do not get the big darned deal about wifi. First, I get my work done either at home or at work, and do not need nor want to do office work while traveling. If you must do your job while traveling, that seems to me to be your poor time management showing up.

I will not be tethered to a computer by my job.

Second, my Ipad has cellular connectivity if it for some reason becomes absolutely necessary for me to get online. I pay for that. If I want it, I pay for it, and do not expect it to be paid for by other pax.

Lastly, to do the wifi on all routes would be prohibitively expensive, fares would have to increase......so all pax would have to pay more to travel, so some could use wifi.......isn't that afoul of the logic being used to cut "amenities"? The high rollers getting free wine and cheese at the expense of others, etc.
Your continued employment fascinates me. If one of my employees started telling me when and where they were going to work on my time, they would become former employees so fast I think id be shipping their personals to them.

And if you are working on call, as a great many Americans do, you are on my time. And I'd rather you not use company data to work.
And that is why I do not/would not ever be one of your employees. Just sayin'.

Peace.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

tonys96

Conductor
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
1,376
Location
Texas
Free Wi-Fi isn't just for work alone. Yes, on the Acela Business class, that would be a selling point. But the world is getting smaller. Free Wi-Fi is getting news, bad or good instantly. Free Wi-Fi is hearing junior's first words just as he spoke them. Free Wi-Fi is getting sports scores instantly as the plays are happening.

Your on a overnight train, you can download the next days newspaper to read while traveling.

The ability to get online for some people will be like some railroads to get them to operate diesels only. It will take time, but once they do, they will never know how much life is more enjoyable.

And for the business traveler, getting free Wi-Fi for them is probably more for talking to family then to co-workers.

Bruce
I have no problem with all you say (save, maybe hearing Juniors first words..you would have to be connected 24/7 since you never know when that might happen) and if it is important to you or anyone else...then pay for it yourself! Why do you expect other pax who do not want this amenity to pay for it for you?

Get a tablet or a smartphone with 3G or 4G service and pay the bill yourself. The other pax are not responsible for your addiction to your electronic devices.
 

Silver Star rider

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 17, 2010
Messages
236
Free Wi-Fi isn't just for work alone. Yes, on the Acela Business class, that would be a selling point. But the world is getting smaller. Free Wi-Fi is getting news, bad or good instantly. Free Wi-Fi is hearing junior's first words just as he spoke them. Free Wi-Fi is getting sports scores instantly as the plays are happening.

Your on a overnight train, you can download the next days newspaper to read while traveling.

The ability to get online for some people will be like some railroads to get them to operate diesels only. It will take time, but once they do, they will never know how much life is more enjoyable.

And for the business traveler, getting free Wi-Fi for them is probably more for talking to family then to co-workers.

Bruce
I have no problem with all you say (save, maybe hearing Juniors first words..you would have to be connected 24/7 since you never know when that might happen) and if it is important to you or anyone else...then pay for it yourself! Why do you expect other pax who do not want this amenity to pay for it for you?

Get a tablet or a smartphone with 3G or 4G service and pay the bill yourself. The other pax are not responsible for your addiction to your electronic devices.
Its not a addiction, its the 21st century. And more and more people will expect it to be a free service just like air conditioning is in summer. When you go to malls, stores, McDonalds, Burger King, etc, they all provide complimentary Wi-Fi, but everyone pays for it.

To tell you the truth, I will probably still use personal Mifi devices to get online because I am sure the train wifi will be a limited use service.

We don't even know how much extra it would be yet. There is no price on the build out, if possible.

Bruce-SSR
 

jebr

Conductor
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
3,979
Location
"The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN
Free Wi-Fi isn't just for work alone. Yes, on the Acela Business class, that would be a selling point. But the world is getting smaller. Free Wi-Fi is getting news, bad or good instantly. Free Wi-Fi is hearing junior's first words just as he spoke them. Free Wi-Fi is getting sports scores instantly as the plays are happening.

Your on a overnight train, you can download the next days newspaper to read while traveling.

The ability to get online for some people will be like some railroads to get them to operate diesels only. It will take time, but once they do, they will never know how much life is more enjoyable.

And for the business traveler, getting free Wi-Fi for them is probably more for talking to family then to co-workers.

Bruce
I have no problem with all you say (save, maybe hearing Juniors first words..you would have to be connected 24/7 since you never know when that might happen) and if it is important to you or anyone else...then pay for it yourself! Why do you expect other pax who do not want this amenity to pay for it for you?

Get a tablet or a smartphone with 3G or 4G service and pay the bill yourself. The other pax are not responsible for your addiction to your electronic devices.
Passengers also pay for a lounge car that they may not use, a diner that they may not use (after all, not all passengers eat in the diner, and the diner is not self-sustaining,) electrical outlets at each seat that they may not use, etc. Just because an amenity is not used by everyone does not mean that it's not good for Amtrak to offer. If installing wi-fi brings more people on board, I'm all for it. And I'd be hard pressed to see that it won't have some benefit to Amtrak.
 

dlagrua

Conductor
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,152
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
. We started our trip to Seattle with 2 GB of data available on my smart phone. When we arrived in SEA, I still had 1GB left and that's using my smartphone as a wireless hot spot for my laptop. We used the internet the entire trip, except for a few locations where all cell service becomes unavailable. We even watched streaming live TV on Xfinity online (our home CATV provider) for an hour. Point is that whether you pull it in yourself or take it from the trains hotspot; there must be an internet signal available. If you go through and area like Glacier National Park its a dead zone. Passengers on a train would demand WiFi the entire trip and this isn't possible on many of the LD routes.

With the current widespread availability of 4G LTE service via Verizon, you can receive cell, email and internet service in about 80% of the USA. I hardly ever depend on free WiFi anymore. Just get the right service provider and you can be WiFi independent as well.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
26,135
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Yep. For me too free wi-fi is just a fall back thing. The wi-fi access of choice is through subscription that I carry anyway. So whether there is free wi-fi or not is not a major concern for me. Besides performance on most free wi-fi services is far worse than what I get with my subscription.
 

tonys96

Conductor
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
1,376
Location
Texas
Yep. For me too free wi-fi is just a fall back thing. The wi-fi access of choice is through subscription that I carry anyway. So whether there is free wi-fi or not is not a major concern for me. Besides performance on most free wi-fi services is far worse than what I get with my subscription.
Agreed. Some ppl feel entitled to free stuff, though.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
Joined
Nov 14, 2007
Messages
26,008
Location
Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
When you go to malls, stores, McDonalds, Burger King, etc, they all provide complimentary Wi-Fi, but everyone pays for it.
That's why I don't go to McD's or BK. Just look how much Starbuck's charges for a cup of coffee - and they offer "free" WiFi. If they didn't, I bet their coffee would be less.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

tonys96

Conductor
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
1,376
Location
Texas
Wifi discussion is moot. Amtrak doesn't have the $$$ for plastic flowers in the diner, where would the $$$ come from for wifi?
 

Silver Star rider

Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 17, 2010
Messages
236
When you go to malls, stores, McDonalds, Burger King, etc, they all provide complimentary Wi-Fi, but everyone pays for it.
That's why I don't go to McD's or BK. Just look how much Starbuck's charges for a cup of coffee - and they offer "free" WiFi. If they didn't, I bet their coffee would be less.
For Starbucks or any single store to provide free Wi-Fi is about $40 a month. How many cups of coffee do they sell a day? Hundreds? Times that by how many they sell a month, You are talking less then a penny a cup to provide free Wi-Fi for their guests. Now how many of their guests will complain that their free Wi-Fi isn't working? Just about everyone who expects this level of service.

Bruce-SSR
 

cpamtfan

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2008
Messages
841
Location
Long Island, NY.
Why not just have the WiFi cost something so people can buy it if they want, rather than just up the ticket prices and hurt the feeling of a few people?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top