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amtrak looks to boost revenue

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jebr

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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.
Doubtful, very doubtful, for a few reasons:

1. Wi-fi is a very small part of the budget. Like, maybe $50/month, if that, plus the initial cost. They already have to have internet into the location for their registers to work, so it's just whatever extra bandwidth they need for customers over their own usage and the cost to have wi-fi and segment it off. (This is different from a train...mobile internet is much more expensive than land-based internet.)

2. Most of their cost is labor. The actual cost of the coffee is likely irrelevant to the cost that they charge.

3. Wi-fi is a selling point of many of these restaurants. If they didn't have wi-fi, they'd have less customers, which would mean less customers to spread the labor cost between. Considering the minimal cost of wi-fi, it seems just as likely that prices would go up if they eliminated wi-fi as it would be to go down because of the cost savings.
 

afigg

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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?
The problem with Amtrak charging for WiFi is that the paying customers will expect and demand a near 100% reliable service. Even with a dual 4G cell tower and rooftop satellite link system, that can't be done for ground vehicles that go through remote regions, tunnels, valleys, heavily wooded terrain. Amtrak operates in a very different environment than airplanes flying above 10K feet and also has a different customer mix. Amtrak could easily lose more money with a pay WiFi system with a rooftop satellite link than a free WiFi system that has a cell tower communication hub in the cafe car that drops out a lot, but the passenger can't demand their WiFi fee back.

Again, it should be noted that in the FY2014 budget and FY2015 budget request document, there is a "Wi-Fi Program Expansion" capital project that: "This project builds on that success of Wi-Fi in the NEC by extending the installation of Wi-Fi networks to the remaining trains system-wide, beginning with the long-distance fleets." So the official plan is to extend Wi-Fi (Amtrak uses the -) to LD trains. However, the document does not say by when.
 

tonys96

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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?
Because it makes too much sense, and the freeloaders would not like having to pay extra for their electronic gizmo addiction.
But that is what high end hotels do.......here is a snippet from Hyatt Regency in Dallas:

Guest Room & Public Area Internet access:

Pricing is for a 24 hour window. Guests may log in as many times as they want during this timeframe. Pricing levels vary by bandwidth economy or business - business is a higher bandwidth and faster connection.

Economy - $9.95 per day

Business - $14.95 per day
 
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Silver Star rider

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The Grand Floridian Spa and Resort in Walt Disney World gives free Wi-Fi to all their guests and rooms start at $560 a night. Its their business model. At one point they did charge for guests to plug into a wired internet port in their rooms, but they realized it enhances their guests stay to just give it away for free, and it doesn't cost much at all to operate.

If there are two hotels serving the same area as the Hyatt in Dallas, one gives free Wi-Fi, the other doesn't, guess who will get more guests to stay at their resort.

Internet access at fixed locations are very cheap to operate. If they charge, its a revenue stream, not just cost to recoup the expense to operate it.

Bruce-SSR
 

Green Maned Lion

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High end hotels are expecting customers who are either on expense account or have so much money they don't care what stuff costs. I've been that wealthy before, I know the feeling- and my picture is in websters next to "cheap Jew".

The mid tiers don't (Holiday Inn/Hampton Inn) and even the cheaps don't. I've stayed in $30 a night fleabag that include free wifi.
 

tonys96

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The Grand Floridian Spa and Resort in Walt Disney World gives free Wi-Fi to all their guests and rooms start at $560 a night. Its their business model. At one point they did charge for guests to plug into a wired internet port in their rooms, but they realized it enhances their guests stay to just give it away for free, and it doesn't cost much at all to operate.

If there are two hotels serving the same area as the Hyatt in Dallas, one gives free Wi-Fi, the other doesn't, guess who will get more guests to stay at their resort.

Internet access at fixed locations are very cheap to operate. If they charge, its a revenue stream, not just cost to recoup the expense to operate it.

Bruce-SSR
Oh, I agree that it is a revenue stream! And guess who needs more revenue? Maybe, Amtrak???
 

jebr

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The Grand Floridian Spa and Resort in Walt Disney World gives free Wi-Fi to all their guests and rooms start at $560 a night. Its their business model. At one point they did charge for guests to plug into a wired internet port in their rooms, but they realized it enhances their guests stay to just give it away for free, and it doesn't cost much at all to operate.

If there are two hotels serving the same area as the Hyatt in Dallas, one gives free Wi-Fi, the other doesn't, guess who will get more guests to stay at their resort.

Internet access at fixed locations are very cheap to operate. If they charge, its a revenue stream, not just cost to recoup the expense to operate it.

Bruce-SSR
Oh, I agree that it is a revenue stream! And guess who needs more revenue? Maybe, Amtrak???
Unless they lose more money by charging for it than by giving it away.

Before someone says "how does that work?" consider this: By paying for it, people are expecting a certain level of service. That certain level of service may cost more to provide than a "free" service would (for example, Amtrak may need to build their own towers/backhaul in cell dead zones, etc. to ensure always-on connectivity, whereas a "free" service could simply use cell backhaul with a warning that it won't work in some areas due to dead cell zones.) And if there was a failure on a trip, people would demand a refund (and rightly so.) I'd be surprised if 20% of people would pay for an internet connection on a train, and almost no one would if they didn't have some advantage over cellular.
 

Ispolkom

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If there are two hotels serving the same area as the Hyatt in Dallas, one gives free Wi-Fi, the other doesn't, guess who will get more guests to stay at their resort.
Neither would be a resort. They are both in Dallas after all.

It can be easily proven that the more you spend for a hotel room, the less likely wifi is free. Two examples from the same chain show this. Hampton Inn = free wifi. Hilton = pay wifi. Hilton charges for their Internet access because a) many people who stay at their hotel are less price-sensitive, and b) they can then give free wifi as a perk to their elites. Resorts might have a different model. I wouldn't know, as I don't use them.

I think that wifi on a long distance train would be as bad an idea as installing screens on the backs of seats. If you want connectivity, you've probably already bought it, just the same as if you want to watch movies, you probably already have a tablet or smart phone on which to watch them. Amtrak has enough problems getting trains over tracks without adding electronics to the mix.
 

SarahZ

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Some hotels chains (Kimpton, for example) provide free Wi-Fi to their members. It's as easy as signing up with your email address and receiving a member number. From there on out, every time you stay there, you get free internet, and you can choose to opt-out of their emails. It's pretty painless and a good way to avoid paying the internet surcharge.

Some folks might balk at providing their address and such for a membership program, but the hotel has your address and phone number anyway once you set up your reservation. So, really, it's sort of moot.
 

Silver Star rider

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The reason more hotels are just giving it away instead of charging for it is probably 95% or more of the what they charge for the service is used for management of it, billing and such. Trust me, I installed services at these hotels. The modem equipment and service is maintained by whomever is providing the internet, cable company or DSL service. The hotel doesn't pay extra. Then they slap a $40 Wi-Fi router on it to provide service to their customers.

I would be very surprised that the hotels that do charge, have this service provided by third parties, meaning as far as the hotel is concerned, if there is a problem, here is the number to call, don't bother us.

Using my previous example of the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, its one of over 20 resorts that Walt Disney Company operates at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Consider every other resort in Orlando most likely touts free Wi-Fi as a reason to stay there, it was amazing how long it took Disney to roll out free Wi-Fi for their guests.

No body, including Amtrak will know how much it will cost to build the infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi of any sort to their riders. But it wont be as expensive as people might think, especially here in the Northeast. There is already infrastructure in place, their right of way. You aren't talking like cable companies to dig up streets or insert poles into the ground to string cable on.

I just say before people start screaming this will raise prices or money better spent elsewhere, get some hard numbers first.

Bruce-SSR
 

Silver Star rider

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If there are two hotels serving the same area as the Hyatt in Dallas, one gives free Wi-Fi, the other doesn't, guess who will get more guests to stay at their resort.
Neither would be a resort. They are both in Dallas after all.

It can be easily proven that the more you spend for a hotel room, the less likely wifi is free. Two examples from the same chain show this. Hampton Inn = free wifi. Hilton = pay wifi. Hilton charges for their Internet access because a) many people who stay at their hotel are less price-sensitive, and b) they can then give free wifi as a perk to their elites. Resorts might have a different model. I wouldn't know, as I don't use them.

I think that wifi on a long distance train would be as bad an idea as installing screens on the backs of seats. If you want connectivity, you've probably already bought it, just the same as if you want to watch movies, you probably already have a tablet or smart phone on which to watch them. Amtrak has enough problems getting trains over tracks without adding electronics to the mix.
the amount of money you spend on a hotel room is meaningless. Again, at Disneyworld, you can spend as little less then $100 a night, to almost $2000 a night and you get the same internet connection. I would bet the only difference between free Wi-Fi at hotels and paying for it, is who is paying the internet service provider for service. If the hotel is paying for it, its most likely free. If the hotel management doesn't want to bother, they will contract with a third party to deal with it. And then that third party will charge guests via credit card to use the internet.

Bruce-SSR
 

tonys96

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No body, including Amtrak will know how much it will cost to build the infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi of any sort to their riders. But it wont be as expensive as people might think, especially here in the Northeast. There is already infrastructure in place, their right of way. You aren't talking like cable companies to dig up streets or insert poles into the ground to string cable on.

I just say before people start screaming this will raise prices or money better spent elsewhere, get some hard numbers first.

Bruce-SSR
Well. then, why don't you offer to Amtrak to do just this? Become a sub contractor and install this, if it is so inexpensive, and either charge Amtrak to use it, or charge the pax. Easy peazy, right? :blink:

Now, back to the real world.......it ain't gonna happen, folks, not for a long time. Imagine Amtrak telling the congresscritters that they want to spend $$$$$ to install an amenity that they will be giving pax for free......in an environment where removing a flower from a table is considered a great business practice that just might save jobs and/or routes.

Wifi on LD trains is not happening in the near future. Period.
 

Bob Dylan

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the free wi-fi in the ppc on the cs seems to work quite rarely, in my experience, yet it is still advertised as an amenity
Several times the LSA in the PPC has used their Cell Phone as a Hot Spot when the WIFI was down and of course much of the Route is out of range for coverage!
I can't imagine why someone would want to be glued to an electronic device while riding in the PPC on the Starlight, one of the most Scenic Routes on Amtrak, but to each their own!

I understand how this can work on the NEC, the CHI-STL Corridor and on the Cascades and Surfliners, perhaps even in Florida but I still think that the scarce funds Amtrak has are better spent on more equipment and more frequent service!
 
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Silver Star rider

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No body, including Amtrak will know how much it will cost to build the infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi of any sort to their riders. But it wont be as expensive as people might think, especially here in the Northeast. There is already infrastructure in place, their right of way. You aren't talking like cable companies to dig up streets or insert poles into the ground to string cable on.

I just say before people start screaming this will raise prices or money better spent elsewhere, get some hard numbers first.

Bruce-SSR
Well. then, why don't you offer to Amtrak to do just this? Become a sub contractor and install this, if it is so inexpensive, and either charge Amtrak to use it, or charge the pax. Easy peazy, right? :blink:

Now, back to the real world.......it ain't gonna happen, folks, not for a long time. Imagine Amtrak telling the congresscritters that they want to spend $$$$$ to install an amenity that they will be giving pax for free......in an environment where removing a flower from a table is considered a great business practice that just might save jobs and/or routes.

Wifi on LD trains is not happening in the near future. Period.
Amtrak already gives passengers at some terminals free Wi-Fi. They are doing it already on some routes.

I bet if you were alive over 100 years ago, you would tell the Wright Bros, if man was meant to fly, he have wings :)

This is the real world, and its getting smaller.

Bruce-SSR
 

yarrow

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the free wi-fi in the ppc on the cs seems to work quite rarely, in my experience, yet it is still advertised as an amenity
Several times the LSA in the PPC has used their Cell Phone as a Hot Spot when the WIFI was down and of course much of the Route is out of range for coverage!
I can't imagine why someone would want to be glued to an electronic device while riding in the PPC on the Starlight, one of the most Scenic Routes on Amtrak, but to each their own!

I understand how this can work on the NEC, the CHI-STL Corridor and on the Cascades and Surfliners, perhaps even in Florida but I still think that the scarce funds Amtrak has are better spent on more equipment and more frequent service!
i pretty much agree but as luddites without smart phones it would be nice if it worked in the ppc as it is advertised. we used to figure it was a good chance to check e-mail. now, we assume it won't be available
 

tonys96

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No body, including Amtrak will know how much it will cost to build the infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi of any sort to their riders. But it wont be as expensive as people might think, especially here in the Northeast. There is already infrastructure in place, their right of way. You aren't talking like cable companies to dig up streets or insert poles into the ground to string cable on.

I just say before people start screaming this will raise prices or money better spent elsewhere, get some hard numbers first.

Bruce-SSR
Well. then, why don't you offer to Amtrak to do just this? Become a sub contractor and install this, if it is so inexpensive, and either charge Amtrak to use it, or charge the pax. Easy peazy, right? :blink:

Now, back to the real world.......it ain't gonna happen, folks, not for a long time. Imagine Amtrak telling the congresscritters that they want to spend $$$$$ to install an amenity that they will be giving pax for free......in an environment where removing a flower from a table is considered a great business practice that just might save jobs and/or routes.

Wifi on LD trains is not happening in the near future. Period.
Amtrak already gives passengers at some terminals free Wi-Fi. They are doing it already on some routes.

I bet if you were alive over 100 years ago, you would tell the Wright Bros, if man was meant to fly, he have wings :)

This is the real world, and its getting smaller.

Bruce-SSR
The Wright Brothers did not have to get their money from a divided congress to do what they did.

Static wifi at a train station is a far different animal than on a LD train in the middle of nowhere.

The densely populated NE area is a different animal than the routes of most LD trains.

You are comparing apples to pencils in your efforts to promote your position.

If you want what even it's proponents call "spotty" internet connections, why not buy it yourself in the form of a 3G or 4G connecting device, instead of expecting someone else to provide it to you? Feel entitled much?

I rarely hear a train station called a "terminal" anywhere, though.
 
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tonys96

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the free wi-fi in the ppc on the cs seems to work quite rarely, in my experience, yet it is still advertised as an amenity
Several times the LSA in the PPC has used their Cell Phone as a Hot Spot when the WIFI was down and of course much of the Route is out of range for coverage!
I can't imagine why someone would want to be glued to an electronic device while riding in the PPC on the Starlight, one of the most Scenic Routes on Amtrak, but to each their own!

I understand how this can work on the NEC, the CHI-STL Corridor and on the Cascades and Surfliners, perhaps even in Florida but I still think that the scarce funds Amtrak has are better spent on more equipment and more frequent service!
i pretty much agree but as luddites without smart phones it would be nice if it worked in the ppc as it is advertised. we used to figure it was a good chance to check e-mail. now, we assume it won't be available
The PPC attendant tried to make it work with her cell phone last August, to no avail. No one in the car when we were there (most of the first day) seemed to care, we were all enjoying the camaraderie and scenery. Now if she had no booze available, things might have gotten hostile. :p
 

Silver Star rider

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The Wright Brothers did not have to get their money from a divided congress to do what they did.

Static wifi at a train station is a far different animal than on a LD train in the middle of nowhere.

The densely populated NE area is a different animal than the routes of most LD trains.

You are comparing apples to pencils in your efforts to promote your position.

If you want what even it's proponents call "spotty" internet connections, why not buy it yourself in the form of a 3G or 4G connecting device, instead of expecting someone else to provide it to you? Feel entitled much?

I rarely hear a train station called a "terminal" anywhere, though.
I tried to remove the excess, new at doing this.. below is my response to you.

I may sometimes call Penn Station a terminal because my train starts its journey there. I don't think its a big deal.

I do have 3G and 4G mifi devices, and most likely, if I can, I would use those instead of the trains Wi-Fi as long as I have a signal. I even shared it to other passengers.

Amtrak, to be competitive, will have to adjust and provide it the best they can. People will expect to have this amenity.

Bruce-SSR
 

jebr

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If you want what even it's proponents call "spotty" internet connections, why not buy it yourself in the form of a 3G or 4G connecting device, instead of expecting someone else to provide it to you? Feel entitled much?
If you want what even its propenents call mediocre food, why not buy it for yourself in the form of bringing your own on board, instead of expecting someone else to help subsidize your dining car costs? Feel entitled much?

If you want a lounge car, why not buy it for yourself in the form of renting a private car?

If you want power to run your electronic devices, why not buy it for yourself in the form of an extended battery, instead of expecting someone else to subsidize the cost of charging your devices? Feel entitled much?

There are amenities that are provided for people that not everyone uses already. Not everyone uses the diner, but (outside of these rhetorical questions) I'm not advocating removing the diner on long distance routes just because they lose money and not everyone uses them. Nor should we remove the lounge, even though not everyone uses it. These are features that people like to have (or have come to expect to have) on trains, even if they don't all use them. If wi-fi was already installed on the trains, I'd be surprised to see most passengers wanting to take it off even if it resulted in a proportionate discount in fare (which is likely small if they're just doing cell-based wi-fi.) I'd also imagine that, if/when customers are polled on what amenities they desire, wi-fi would rank as high, if not higher, than the sightseer lounge and potentially the diner as well. Amtrak also needs to offer it in order to stay competitive: many bus lines provide free wi-fi as an amenity, and most airlines offer it as a paid amenity. Amtrak offers neither.

Just because not everyone will use an amenity doesn't mean it's not an amenity worth having.
 

SarahZ

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If you want what even it's proponents call "spotty" internet connections, why not buy it yourself in the form of a 3G or 4G connecting device, instead of expecting someone else to provide it to you? Feel entitled much?
If you want what even its propenents call mediocre food, why not buy it for yourself in the form of bringing your own on board, instead of expecting someone else to help subsidize your dining car costs? Feel entitled much?

If you want a lounge car, why not buy it for yourself in the form of renting a private car?

If you want power to run your electronic devices, why not buy it for yourself in the form of an extended battery, instead of expecting someone else to subsidize the cost of charging your devices? Feel entitled much?

There are amenities that are provided for people that not everyone uses already. Not everyone uses the diner, but (outside of these rhetorical questions) I'm not advocating removing the diner on long distance routes just because they lose money and not everyone uses them. Nor should we remove the lounge, even though not everyone uses it. These are features that people like to have (or have come to expect to have) on trains, even if they don't all use them. If wi-fi was already installed on the trains, I'd be surprised to see most passengers wanting to take it off even if it resulted in a proportionate discount in fare (which is likely small if they're just doing cell-based wi-fi.) I'd also imagine that, if/when customers are polled on what amenities they desire, wi-fi would rank as high, if not higher, than the sightseer lounge and potentially the diner as well. Amtrak also needs to offer it in order to stay competitive: many bus lines provide free wi-fi as an amenity, and most airlines offer it as a paid amenity. Amtrak offers neither.

Just because not everyone will use an amenity doesn't mean it's not an amenity worth having.
 

jis

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Amtrak should do a proper cost benefit analysis and then act upon the addition of WiFi on those routes where it makes sense based on that. I don't think simply categorically saying that this feature or that is unnecessary out of hand when clearly many people want it is NOT a winning strategy.
 
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tonys96

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Amtrak, to be competitive, will have to adjust and provide it the best they can. People will expect to have this amenity.

Bruce-SSR
I do not expect this "amenity", at least not at no cost. Evidently you do, and expect it at no cost to you. I simply do not feel that entitled, that is all.

Again, to all who are proponents of this: Where do you propose getting the $$$$ to do this? Do you REALLY believe this congress will pony up these $$$ for an extra amenity that Amtrak will say they will provide to pax with zero return on this investment? Really? In this era of cost cutting to save $$$$ do you think they can get taxpayer funds from Congress for this? Really?

There might be a slight chance for Amtrak to get the needed $$$$ if they can show it as a recurring revenue stream to cover the costs, but even that is unlikely, IMHO.

IMHO, the only way this will happen, is if a private entity approached Amtrak to do this at no cost to Amtrak, and then charged for this service. Amtrak simply doesn't have the $$$$ for this kind of capital outlay, with no way to recoup the funds. Hell, they can't (or won't) afford the cost of some cheap plastic flowers.
 
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tonys96

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If you want what even it's proponents call "spotty" internet connections, why not buy it yourself in the form of a 3G or 4G connecting device, instead of expecting someone else to provide it to you? Feel entitled much?
If you want what even its propenents call mediocre food, why not buy it for yourself in the form of bringing your own on board, instead of expecting someone else to help subsidize your dining car costs? Feel entitled much?

If you want a lounge car, why not buy it for yourself in the form of renting a private car?

If you want power to run your electronic devices, why not buy it for yourself in the form of an extended battery, instead of expecting someone else to subsidize the cost of charging your devices? Feel entitled much?

There are amenities that are provided for people that not everyone uses already. Not everyone uses the diner, but (outside of these rhetorical questions) I'm not advocating removing the diner on long distance routes just because they lose money and not everyone uses them. Nor should we remove the lounge, even though not everyone uses it. These are features that people like to have (or have come to expect to have) on trains, even if they don't all use them. If wi-fi was already installed on the trains, I'd be surprised to see most passengers wanting to take it off even if it resulted in a proportionate discount in fare (which is likely small if they're just doing cell-based wi-fi.) I'd also imagine that, if/when customers are polled on what amenities they desire, wi-fi would rank as high, if not higher, than the sightseer lounge and potentially the diner as well. Amtrak also needs to offer it in order to stay competitive: many bus lines provide free wi-fi as an amenity, and most airlines offer it as a paid amenity. Amtrak offers neither.

Just because not everyone will use an amenity doesn't mean it's not an amenity worth having.
Not everyone drank Cranberry juice. It is gone from sleepers.

Not everyone read newspapers. They are gone from sleepers.

Not everyone used the toiletries kits on CS & EB, they are gone from sleepers.

Not everyone liked flowers on diner tables. They are gone.

Not everyone liked tablecloths on diner tables. They are history.

Not everyone likes ceramic dinnerware, and metal silverware. Adios to those

Not everyone in sleepers went to wine & cheese tastings, they are relics of the past.

And on and on.........

Just because not everyone will use an amenity does not mean it is not an amenity worth having??? The evidence appears to show otherwise.

As for your comment about removing the diner....well, the current congress is attempting to do just that.

And you expect them to put up the cash outlay for wifi on all LD routes? Really?
 
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