Amtrak Marketing

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
1,262
Location
Central Florida
We have all lamented the lack of Amtrak marketing outside the NEC. And, honestly, it’s hard to see much merit on marketing a service for the LD network that is so inconsistent, and arguable deteriorating, that it might be a waste of money until service levels improve.

Nevertheless, I was surprised to receive this email:
1CEE059A-308A-4E99-A3F0-2DDF9A1EC58A.png
This appeared to be quite professional and it was interesting that the questions were directed to determining how Amtrak stacks up against other modes of transportation including auto, ride share, rental, RV, and plane for different lengths of trips: 75+miles, 75-500, more than 500. Aside from obvious questions about comfort and convenience it also touched on safety and sustainability.

So, let’s hope Amtrak marketing is waking up. They have a long way to go!
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,711
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
We have all lamented the lack of Amtrak marketing outside the NEC. And, honestly, it’s hard to see much merit on marketing a service for the LD network that is so inconsistent, and arguable deteriorating, that it might be a waste of money until service levels improve.

Nevertheless, I was surprised to receive this email:
View attachment 29248
This appeared to be quite professional and it was interesting that the questions were directed to determining how Amtrak stacks up against other modes of transportation including auto, ride share, rental, RV, and plane for different lengths of trips: 75+miles, 75-500, more than 500. Aside from obvious questions about comfort and convenience it also touched on safety and sustainability.

So, let’s hope Amtrak marketing is waking up. They have a long way to go!
I got this email, but after entering my age, gender, and race (senior white mail), it said they weren't interested.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
3,692
By the way, Amtrak does have marketing for the NEC, but it’s not perfect.

The Phillies radio station runs an Amtrak ad saying take the train to the baseball games in New York or Washington or other cities in the northeast. Makes it sound like the train goes right to all the stadiums instead of you having to get off the train and take commuter rail or subways or whatever.

And it also says sit back and enjoy the views (what views? Yes, there are some, but also a lot of graffiti and derelict buildings) and dream of the vibrant sunsets at the stadium (sunset watchers and Phillies fans are not the same group, at least not at the same time!).

So yes there’s Amtrak marketing for the NEC but it doesn’t sound like anyone put a lot of thought into the target audience.
 

TheCrescent

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
528
What marketing is neeed? Sold out means why worrry? WAmtrak is going to cancel some reservations anyway. Why get postential passengers hopes up to squash them later?
Because Amtrak can mostly sell out short long-distance trains, with no marketing whatsoever, and these days those trains lose money.

With a modest increase in ridership, long-distance trains could break even. It shouldn’t be that hard to have a modest increase in ridership.

Given how many people take Amtrak when its services are largely unknown, imagine what ridership could be if its services were well-known.

Marketing should be able to be a cost-effective way to move Amtrak to (some range of) self-sufficiency.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,910
Location
Washington State
With a modest increase in ridership, long-distance trains could break even. It shouldn’t be that hard to have a modest increase in ridership.
Not with Amtrak's well baked accounting systems. They probably were above break even on a pure above-the-rail basis pre-COVID, but Amtrak burdens them with bloated general overhead costs, plus charges the occasional NEC expense to them by "accident". The RPA put out a well-researched white paper on Amtrak's accounting (mal)practices last year.
 

TheCrescent

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
528
Not with Amtrak's well baked accounting systems. They probably were above break even on a pure above-the-rail basis pre-COVID, but Amtrak burdens them with bloated general overhead costs, plus charges the occasional NEC expense to them by "accident". The RPA put out a well-researched white paper on Amtrak's accounting (mal)practices last year.
Sure, you are correct: Amtrak accounting is Byzantine nonsense.

But whatever Amtrak’s accounting, marketing could significantly increase ridership.

One station that I regularly ride to is Greenville, SC. In the last two years, I have always been the only (!) sleeping car passenger getting off or on.

Greenville used to be far smaller, and even after its local interstate highway and airport were built, despite being far smaller, it had multiple night trains and even a set-out sleeper.

If the Southern Railway could generate that volume of business even with those limitations, surely Amtrak could get more than one (!) sleeping car passenger per train there.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,910
Location
Washington State
Sure, you are correct: Amtrak accounting is Byzantine nonsense.

But whatever Amtrak’s accounting, marketing could significantly increase ridership.

One station that I regularly ride to is Greenville, SC. In the last two years, I have always been the only (!) sleeping car passenger getting off or on.

Greenville used to be far smaller, and even after its local interstate highway and airport were built, despite being far smaller, it had multiple night trains and even a set-out sleeper.

If the Southern Railway could generate that volume of business even with those limitations, surely Amtrak could get more than one (!) sleeping car passenger per train there.
Agree that they could do much more to generate ridership (and stop driving off first time riders whose experience results in "never again"). I guess my point is that there is huge gulf between what could be done and what current Amtrak management is willing to do. Right now, the game appears to be frankly rigged against the long distance services, from the accounting system, to OBS quality and consistency, to equipment management. The cooked books give Amtrak the rationale for not providing proper support for long distance services and thus I consider it a central and vital issue.

Until we get a management that is willing and able to do basic blocking and tackling in support of long distances, it is all "If wishes were horses, we'd all get to ride."
 
Last edited:

TheCrescent

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
528
Agree that they could do much more to generate ridership (and stop driving off first time riders whose experience results in "never again"). I guess my point is that there is huge gulf between what could be done and what current Amtrak management is willing to do. Right now, the game appears to be frankly rigged against the long distance services, from the accounting system, to OBS quality and consistency, to equipment management. The cooked books gives Amtrak the rationale for not providing proper support for long distance services and thus I consider it a central and vital issue.

Until we get a management that is willing and able to do basic blocking and tackling in support of long distances, it is all "If wishes were horses, we'd all get to ride."
Great points.

This is why I think that the US needs to copy the EU and bring in additional subsidized passenger train operators. The FAST Act pilot program that resulted in no LD routes being operated by someone other than Amtrak wasn’t enough.

Public policy should aim to give the US a long-distance system that is used by the greatest number of travelers for the subsidy that government is willing to give.

Amtrak isn’t achieving that, so it’s time to follow the rest of the industrialized world and try some competition.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,910
Location
Washington State
I don't disagree, although I do have some concerns about ensuring such a program being structured to have sufficient support and incentives for long distance services as well as corridors. But of course Amtrak itself has that precise issue with its Connect US proposals.

I guess I could use Iowa Pacific as a counter argument, but their "Pullman" service on the CONO and their operation of the Hoosier State (which was a wonderful passenger experience) were sabotaged by Amtrak at every opportunity. They never had a fair shot.

In a lot of ways, I wish that the alternative proposal to NRPC would have been adopted back in 1970. That would have been that selected routes would continue to be operated by the railroads with Federal subsidies directly to the railroads to offset losses. That actually had quite a bit of political traction but ultimately lost out to the NRPC proposal.
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,411
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
Amtraks accounting could be described as voodoo economics. All routes whether they use station services, red caps. station employees and station real estate costs are charged to the route. Whether the route uses them or not. its is charged against its operating cost. Moynihan, station, Washington Union station and even Boston stations divide and amortize their operating costs ( employees, real estate, maintenance costs) to all LD routes
 
Top