Assigned Seats on the train?

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crescent-zephyr

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This is all a difficult situation because if you prioritize trying to give people an empty seat next to them seating groups together is harder, but if you prioritize sitting groups together, giving people an empty seat next to them is harder

It shouldn’t be difficult. Nobody should expect an empty seat next to them. It doesn’t matter if Amtrak has 3 empty coaches on the train, if the passenger load only fills one coach, there is no reason Amtrak should be expected to allow passengers to spread out.

Families traveling together should be able to expect to be seated together on the train. Especially considering children and family members with special needs.
 

WWW

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And then there is the station boarding platform - La Crosse WI is one with only useable space for boarding two cars -
unlike Chicago with its mile long platform --- well maybe seem so but boarding the EB 9-10 cars with last 3 cars and
the SSL going to Portland splitting at Spokane - the cars behind the baggage car are a trek and a half from the waiting lounge
The EB seems to be set up with specific cars positioned for specific stops - this otherwise a second stop maybe
required at stations like La Crosse which doesn't happen all that often
With weather being its nastiness no one wants to trek the train length to get to the right car
Airlines don't have this problem because there are limits to stretching an airframe
 

Train3414

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It shouldn’t be difficult. Nobody should expect an empty seat next to them. It doesn’t matter if Amtrak has 3 empty coaches on the train, if the passenger load only fills one coach, there is no reason Amtrak should be expected to allow passengers to spread out.

Families traveling together should be able to expect to be seated together on the train. Especially considering children and family members with special needs.
I agree with you, but people complain when there a lot of open seats being saved for further down the route (or even the same stop) and they're forced into a small section of the car with a seatmate.
 

jebr

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It shouldn’t be difficult. Nobody should expect an empty seat next to them. It doesn’t matter if Amtrak has 3 empty coaches on the train, if the passenger load only fills one coach, there is no reason Amtrak should be expected to allow passengers to spread out.

While no one should expect to have an empty seat next to them, I think it's customer-hostile to not allow passengers to spread out if available seating capacity allows and isn't needed downline. If Amtrak has the required staff on board to allow those to be used, they should be open for us unless there is a particular reason to keep it closed for expected passenger volume downline (and even then I'm a bit iffy on it.) If anything, that's even more important now as social distancing is still kind-of-sort-of a thing, and there's definitely a desire for people to want to be able to spread out a bit and not have a seat mate unless need be.
 

Train3414

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While no one should expect to have an empty seat next to them, I think it's customer-hostile to not allow passengers to spread out if available seating capacity allows and isn't needed downline. If Amtrak has the required staff on board to allow those to be used, they should be open for us unless there is a particular reason to keep it closed for expected passenger volume downline (and even then I'm a bit iffy on it.) If anything, that's even more important now as social distancing is still kind-of-sort-of a thing, and there's definitely a desire for people to want to be able to spread out a bit and not have a seat mate unless need be.
There are many reasons seats might be assigned a certain way. However, there should be attempts to spread people out. Even in normal times, just assigning people seats in exact sequence (filling up each row one at a time with no breaks in the sequence, etc.) or sticking people in one section of the car when there is no good reason to do so shouldn't happen.
 
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Sidney

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Offer a reserved 2:1 premium seating option, problem solved for any not wanting to sit next to a stranger.
There are very few of the 2 to 1 seat configurations. If every long distance train could have business class with 2 to 1 that would be ideal. Most people do not relish sitting and sleeping next to a stranger overnight. Sometimes I'll take the LSL instead of the CL from Chicago to be guaranteed a single seat in BC. Only five of them. Good to be one of the first to board from the Metropolitan Lounge.
 

Train3414

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Yea
There are many reasons seats might be assigned a certain way. However, there should be attempts to spread people out. Even in normal times, just assigning people seats in exact sequence (filling up each row one at a time with no breaks in the sequence, etc.) or sticking people in one section of the car when there is no good reason to do so shouldn't happen.
Offer a reserved 2:1 premium seating option, problem solved for any not wanting to sit next to a stranger.
They do on some trains. Maybe this could be a premium product on more trains?
 

WWW

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Hopefully rail travel will not reach the point like air travel of unruly passengers -
Perhaps a "no-rail travel ban" may be a solution to that when it occurs.
Arguing with a conductor still does not have quite the leverage as messing with airline crews - - -
 

Train3414

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In other words a double occupancy charge - still yet a train conductor may have the authority to override that to avoid unsafe SRO
I think the suggestion was basically to offer an option similar to the Business Class option offered on some trains where there is a single seat on one side. Although I suppose allowing people to purchase the second seat when possible works too in some cases (obviously making sure they're not cutting back on capacity when they don't need to)
 

jis

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The procurement of new generation equipment might come with a ready made solution to this problem. The regional procurement almost certainly come with 2x1 BC. As for whether Amtrak will go for across the board BC on LD service remains to be seen, with the exception of the Palmetto which will likely have it since it will use a regional ICT (Inter City Trainset)
 
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Train3414

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The prcorement of new generation equipment might come with a ready made solution to this problem. The regional procurement almost certainly come with 2x1 BC. As for whether Amtrak will go for across the board BC on LD service remains to be seen, with the exception of the Palmetto which will likely have it since it will use a regional ICT (Inter City Trainset)
The new Venture cars, at least in the Midwest, have 2-1 in Business
 
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I’ve seen them do this. Reserving seats for parties of 2, and for 3+. Still you’ll have solo passengers arguing that “the seats are empty why can’t I sit here, I don’t want to share a seat!”
Just one thing to consider about "parties of 3" : who gets the empty seat of the 4-seats? I know, I was once that odd person out on a ride on the Silver Star. There were two seat pairs occupied by a mom and her 2 kids. I was assigned the odd seat out, which turned out to be the seat next to the mom, so it worked out OK. The kids were OK, they were in the 5-8 year old range and were pretty well behaved. I actually had the window seat, which in one way was nice, but also meant that every time I wanted to use the restroom or eat, I had to climb over the mom to get out of my seat, which was a little awkward. I did spend a lot of time in the cafe car, which shows that having lounge space on a fully packed train is a good idea.

As a solo coach traveler, I have to accept that I can't have two seats together. Perhaps if Amtrak had more coaches available, they could sell seat pairs to solo travelers as a sort of makeshift "business class" option, yet still have enough of an inventory of seats that they can accommodate family groups, even on busy trains. By the way, on the NEC, if I travel with my family, I expect that we won't be sitting together. If we do, we just thank our good fortune.
 

Joe from PA

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This past Fall, we took the Acela to Boston because Amtrak ha a 40% Off special. Usually we take the NE Regional. Few people get off in Philadelphia, so the 2 of us cannot usually get seats together. But in 1 1/2 hours we get to NYC, and most people get off. We can then select "good window" seats that are together.
On the Acela trip we found a person in one of our seats, both ways, and had to ask them to move. Both coming and going, we were in poor seats window-wise (between windows).
So in this case, assigned seats were not appreciated.
 

zephyr17

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I simply do not get why assigned seating and grouping by destination is an issue.

Prior to Amtrak, a "reserved seat" on a long distance train meant an assigned seat. The systems used to accomplish that were manual and handled by marking up car charts in reservations bureaus, but the principle is the same. IT systems can be developed that can replicate it, it is not really that difficult of a problem.

The railroads managed to group people and get them off at their destination stations with their manual reservations systems. It is a red herring of an objection.
 

Train3414

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I simply do not get why assigned seating and grouping by destination is an issue.

Prior to Amtrak, a "reserved seat" on a long distance train meant an assigned seat. The systems used to accomplish that were manual and handled by marking up car charts in reservations bureaus, but the principle is the same. IT systems can be developed that can replicate it, it is not really that difficult of a problem.

The railroads managed to group people and get them off at their destination stations with their manual reservations systems. It is a red herring of an objection.
I think the main objection is that sometimes seats are assigned in ways that aren't optimal (assigning seats in exact numerical order, ignoring seating requests like window or aisle in instances where they could easily be honored, etc.) There should be more of an effort to try to offer people more of a choice of seating while still meeting other goals (grouping people to the same destination together, allowing groups and especially families with small children to sit together, etc.)
 

zephyr17

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I think the main objection is that sometimes seats are assigned in ways that aren't optimal (assigning seats in exact numerical order, ignoring seating requests like window or aisle in instances where they could easily be honored, etc.) There should be more of an effort to try to offer people more of a choice of seating while still meeting other goals (grouping people to the same destination together, allowing groups and especially families with small children to sit together, etc.)
All of those could be supported with a modern reservations system, including car assignment by destination. As I said, it really is not a tough problem technically.

Back in the day, the manual reservation systems included size of party and members of the same party were seated together.

While I can see objections to a poor implementation by Amtrak's crack IT department, none of the issues I have seen in this thread could not be addressed by a competently designed system. As I said, the problem isn't very hard.
 

Train3414

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All of those could be supported with a modern reservations system, including car assignment by destination. As I said, it really is not a tough problem technically.

Back in the day, the manual reservation systems included size of party and members of the same party were seated together.

While I can see objections to a poor implementation by Amtrak's crack IT department, none of the issues I have seen in this thread could not be addressed by a competently designed system. As I said, the problem isn't very hard.
Amtrak already has the ability to allow people to select seats in advance (as seen on some trains like in the NEC and in Palmetto Business Class, for example - although I don't think Amtrak offers this ability in Coach anywhere.) This hasn't been extended to other trains that use assigned seating. If they could implement this systemwide (on trains with assigned seating) and allow people to choose where they want to sit, people would be able to reserve a more desirable seat in advance. Obviously this doesn't guarantee not having a seatmate when you don't have to, although I suppose people self-selecting would likely try for an empty pair if possible. Takes us back to the allowing people to book two seats if possible idea. The main potential drawbacks I could see with allowing seat selection in advance would be changes in consist due to load, bad orders, etc. and the possibility of someone selecting a desirable seat for a short ride and blocking people going most if not all the way from selecting the seat.
 
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Gemuser

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While I can see objections to a poor implementation by Amtrak's crack IT department, none of the issues I have seen in this thread could not be addressed by a competently designed system. As I said, the problem isn't very hard.
Or even simpler Amtrak could simply license a reservation system from DB, SBB, FS, OS or SNCF all of which have systems that can cope with everything Amtrak has to cope with, except possibly having only one price for a sleeping compartment of each type plus x number of tickets but as zephyr17 says not very hard problems.
 

crescent-zephyr

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The only thing that is unreasonable is not honoring a simple request like a window or aisle seat.

Assigning seats by car based on destination, and assigning specific seats within a car is not unreasonable at all.
 

WWW

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Fortunately there are No middle seats only aisles and windows although some of the new cars are
experimenting experiencing reduced seat width - still better than the airlines in sardine class !
 
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