Autotrain Services Drastically Cut?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

MARC Rider

Engineer
AU Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
3,845
Location
Baltimore. MD
As stated previously - this doesn't really sound like a management cut it sounds more like a labor shortage. If management wanted to kill the Auto Train they would have made cuts to it during the earlier part of the pandemic which they didn't. Obviously what one feels about management forcing the vaccine mandate and whether they should be doing it is another matter.
What makes you think the labor shortage has anything to do with the vaccine mandate? A few months ago, some were blaming the labor shortage on the extended unemployment benefits (which were really pretty pitiful to begin with and wouldn't be enough to keep me from getting a job.) Now, those benefits have been gone for at least a month and there's still a labor shortage. On the other hand, we've heard form some people posting here that they've applied for work at Amtrak, and it seems to take the company forever to get people on board, even after they've made a job offer and it's been accepted. Maybe the problem is more the fact that the hiring process is arcane and inefficient.

Just because some random OBS tells you that a few of his or her colleagues are quitting rather than get a pretty low-risk vaccine really means nothing. After all, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

I seriously doubt that the Amtrak labor shortage (or any labor shortage) is a result of the vaccine mandate. Seems more like anti-vaxxer disinformation to me.
 
Last edited:

lordsigma

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,440
What makes you think the labor shortage has anything to do with the vaccine mandate?
I didn't intend to mean that the labor shortage is entirely about the vaccine mandate. Clearly the big thing was the drop to tri-weekly service and return. Not everyone returned from the furlough - and yes the Amtrak onboarding process is slow. I think the labor shortage could probably be compounded by a small minority of employees playing games and taking leave to protest the vaccine mandate which could lead to some instances of unstaffed areas or canceled trains. I happen to support the mandate and vaccination. I should clarify on my trip that it was not stated specifically that this particular employee callout that resulted in the unstaffed lounge was vaccine related but there was general talk about some employees protesting the mandate. I'm sure a lot of it is talk as I've heard a lot of griping and moaning from a couple employees at my work place but in the end it was all talk - when push came to shove they got the shot.

I suspect a little bit of it is going on, and because Amtrak is understaffed already even a couple employees calling out suddenly for any reason at the last minute can lead to situations where something has to go unstaffed. In the end if the mandate results in a few temporary or isolated cuts or interruptions but gets just about everyone vaccinated I think it's worth it.
 
Last edited:

Ryan

Court Jester
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,571
Location
Off looking for his sense of humor
There is need a source if its worker shortage or budget issues.

if I had billion of dollars or more, I would take over AT and I would renovate everything and make it a real AT route and offer sleepers for half of price, not the ones you see on amtrak site for $1500 to $3000.

Under my new ownership, I would do as follows:

Coach: $75 - $125
Business Class: $150 - $200
Roomette: $275 - $375
Bedroom: $400 - $500
Family Bedroom: $600'
ADA Bedroom: $300

There will be two lounges, one for Coach passengers and one for Business Class/Sleepers. There will be also FULL dining, with real food from scratch like you are eating from your grandma's house.
Standard vehicle: $100
Extended vehicle: $200
Motorcycle: $99

If anyone purchase sleeper, can get priority vehicle offloading/onloading for $50. It's a win-win.
Congrats, you've just taken a train that makes money and turned it into a financial drain. Where do you think the extra money to cover the costs of running the train is going to come from after you've completely ruined the revenue that it brings in?

And also, I forgot to add, I would add 2 or 3 dome cars and it would be available to anyone 24/7.
Close your eyes and picture how tall a Superliner is. Then picture how tall a dome car is. Now tell me what good a dome car would be on this train? Also, here in the real world, those cars cost money that you don't have anymore since you just took away a massive portion of the revenue from this train.

Well done! You've put the Auto Train out of business (again)!
 

jruff001

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
298
Amtrak's August y-t-d report shows the Auto Train fully covering (100%) its operating expenses. The Auto Train is not only Amtrak's best performing LD train ( revenue to cost ratio ), but beats the NEC, and twenty of the state supported services. It is too bad that on board services are having to be cut, even if temporary.
Maybe the AT is only doing so well financially because of the service cuts?
 

Larry H.

Conductor
Joined
Dec 22, 2006
Messages
1,028
I've never ridden the AT only know what people here say about it. But its rather mystifying that if its really making money the new Management would downgrade the service after indicating they were on board with improving the basic services that make a train trip worth the money? But with Amtrak no good news seems to be an endless problem.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

Trogdor

BURNiNATOR
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
5,802
Location
Here
I've never ridden the AT only know what people here say about it. But its rather mystifying that if its really making money the new Management would downgrade the service after indicating they were on board with improving the basic services that make a train trip worth the money? But with Amtrak no good news seems to be an endless problem.
For the bazillionth time, these cuts are because they don't have the available staff, and/or because they don't have the available capacity in the dining car to seat people with proper social distancing. The "new management" is not downgrading anything. The lack of staff resources is.
 

Triley

Real Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Dec 14, 2008
Messages
1,562
Location
Somewhere between VAC and EUG
After speaking with several Amtrak employees on my Gathering trip trains, it would seem that some of the shortages of personnel are a result of the upcoming requirement that all employees be vaccinated. One person said many Amtrak workers are taking leaves, sick leave, personal leave to make a point that they disagree with this mandate. One of my trains only had one conductor from the extra board show up. Shortages on Autotrain may have been a result of this mini protest???
This is quite interesting to me…because I’ve never heard anything of the sort. The crew shortage has been since day 1 of resuming daily service, after the buyouts, retirements, and employees finding work elsewhere.

While there are some employees who are gripping any the vaccine mandate, I have heard of no instances where people are calling out as a form of protest, and if it is happening, it’s certainly not happening on some large scale.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
966
Location
Albuquerque, NM
As far as my trip went (that I just got back from yesterday) there have been no "cuts." We were told on the train 52(23) the lack of the sleeper lounge attendant was due to an employee call out - and remember that the OBS crews go Lorton - Sanford and back the next day so if that happens heading south, the northbound train the next day likewise will not have a lounge attendent. The dining car operated as normal both ways - on the really busy trips they are sometimes serving all meals in-room which right now is basically in the southbound direction -this isn't new they did the same on my trip in April - they offered an in diner seating heading south but not north on that trip - this trip being in October it was the opposite - I ate in the diner heading north on the way home but it was not offered on the way down. As I stated before some of the cars do have the coffee - others don't they are waiting for new machines - if your car doesn't have it you can go to an adjacent car - this was all stuff that was said by employees on the train.
What is "an employee call out"?
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
23,669
Location
Austin Texas
There is need a source if its worker shortage or budget issues.

if I had billion of dollars or more, I would take over AT and I would renovate everything and make it a real AT route and offer sleepers for half of price, not the ones you see on amtrak site for $1500 to $3000.

Under my new ownership, I would do as follows:

Coach: $75 - $125
Business Class: $150 - $200
Roomette: $275 - $375
Bedroom: $400 - $500
Family Bedroom: $600'
ADA Bedroom: $300

There will be two lounges, one for Coach passengers and one for Business Class/Sleepers. There will be also FULL dining, with real food from scratch like you are eating from your grandma's house.
And meanwhile in an Alternate Universe-----😄
 

Chatter163

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 26, 2002
Messages
662
There is need a source if its worker shortage or budget issues.

if I had billion of dollars or more, I would take over AT and I would renovate everything and make it a real AT route and offer sleepers for half of price, not the ones you see on amtrak site for $1500 to $3000.

Under my new ownership, I would do as follows:

Coach: $75 - $125
Business Class: $150 - $200
Roomette: $275 - $375
Bedroom: $400 - $500
Family Bedroom: $600'
ADA Bedroom: $300

There will be two lounges, one for Coach passengers and one for Business Class/Sleepers. There will be also FULL dining, with real food from scratch like you are eating from your grandma's house.
Another armchair billionaire who has all the answers.
 

Nick Farr

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
522
Location
Michigan
if I had billion of dollars or more, I would take over AT and I would renovate everything and make it a real AT route and offer sleepers for half of price, not the ones you see on amtrak site for $1500 to $3000.
Which would then cause it to lose just as much if not more than all the other LD routes.

At least other LD routes provide essential transportation between intermediate points, often to people who do not own cars. The AT is an upmarket service targeted towards upmarket travelers.
 

John from RI

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
Messages
25
Location
Bloomfield NJ
In August Autotrain made a slight profit. As Amtrak comes back from the Covid-19 pandemic there is every reason to hope the profit will increase. So people are voting with their feet for Autotrain. I hope the amenities will improve for riders. Still, the convenience of not having to drive a long distance is what Autotrain is all about and that should continue to attract customers. I hope that demand will create a Chicago to Florida Autotrain.
August 2021 Monthly Performance Report (amtrak.com)
 

Nick Farr

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
522
Location
Michigan
I seriously doubt that the Amtrak labor shortage (or any labor shortage) is a result of the vaccine mandate. Seems more like anti-vaxxer disinformation to me.
The major reasons behind the labor shortage overall are the acceleration of boomers retiring, low compensation, a greater number of people between jobs ("great resignation") and greater labor flexibility (remote work/elect-in work).

Amtrak's staffing issues are people taking retirement and incredibly slow onboarding/training of staff.

In nursing, the vaccine mandate absolutely IS a factor in lower staffing. Nursing staffing was thin to begin with, so even this small demographic has an impact. Given that nurses can often find other work that won't require vaccination, this does lead to a direct strain on group care environment staffing.

It is less so in other environments, such as flight attendants, etc.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Moderator
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
29,658
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Another armchair billionaire who has all the answers.
There is a reason that armchair billionaires soon become armchair millionaires and then follow up to become armchair thousendiers. 🤪 And then off to the poorhouse. 🤷‍♂️ Except that in the world of fantasy devoid of any connection with reality, this sequence does not follow as it would in reality.
 

Palmland

Conductor
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
1,038
Location
Central Florida
The dining car operated as normal both ways - on the really busy trips they are sometimes serving all meals in-room which right now is basically in the southbound direction
This is what I’m hearing too. There is limited dining car seating because they can’t offer communal seating. So no cutbacks in the diner just fewer tables available.

However there is no longer an attendant in the sleeper lounge. They have positioned the coach cafe-lounge next to the sleepers so you go there if you want to purchase something.

Gotta say that attendant was never busy on our trip and I prefer to BYOL anyway. No doubt this would help any staffing shortages but I think Amtrak could have done a better job of advertising their services. Sell enough booze and I suspect you could almost cover the cost! Perhaps going through the cars with an airline type cart for beverage service would have been a better use of that position.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,723
In nursing, the vaccine mandate absolutely IS a factor in lower staffing. Nursing staffing was thin to begin with, so even this small demographic has an impact. Given that nurses can often find other work that won't require vaccination, this does lead to a direct strain on group care environment staffing.
This was my impression as well. Nursing skills are applicable to many kinds of jobs, some of which pay much better than nursing. Many nurses stick to their jobs not for the money but because they passionately believe in what they are doing and love to be around people and help them. Any yes, some of them do have slightly crazy ideas in private, as you get some in any other profession I guess.

But anyway, they want to be nurses but if pushed to leave and given no other choice, they will leave.

IMHO, whoever thought you can simply threaten large numbers of people into compliance is somebody who spends too much time looking at Excel sheets and not enough getting to know how humans really are.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
23,669
Location
Austin Texas
This was my impression as well. Nursing skills are applicable to many kinds of jobs, some of which pay much better than nursing. Many nurses stick to their jobs not for the money but because they passionately believe in what they are doing and love to be around people and help them. Any yes, some of them do have slightly crazy ideas in private, as you get some in any other profession I guess.

But anyway, they want to be nurses but if pushed to leave and given no other choice, they will leave.

IMHO, whoever thought you can simply threaten large numbers of people into compliance is somebody who spends too much time looking at Excel sheets and not enough getting to know how humans really are.
What you say is True, as its just Human Nature, but anyone who works in Health Care , which is based on Science and requires Training and Knowledge, probably shouldn't be opposed to getting Vaccinated for all the various Illnesses and Bad News stuff such as COVID, should have Common Sense and want to protect themselves as well as their patients and family and friends!

Otherwise they should be working in another field.
 

cirdan

Engineer
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
2,723
What you say is True, as its just Human Nature, but anyone who works in Health Care , which is based on Science and requires Training and Knowledge, probably shouldn't be opposed to getting Vaccinated for all the various Illnesses and Bad News stuff such as COVID, should have Common Sense and want to protect themselves as well as their patients and family and friends!

Otherwise they should be working in another field.
Sometimes dumb decisions are made by people who are very smart, who maybe make the mistake of thinking everybody is as totally rational as they are.
 

Nick Farr

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2019
Messages
522
Location
Michigan
I hope that demand will create a Chicago to Florida Autotrain.
I know they've studied that, but it seems really unlikely, given the state of the rail network between those two areas. The other problem with Chicago/Florida is the lack of transit density between the two pairs along with the length of the trip: Two nights, minimum.

If I were to pick it, I'd suggest an Eola, IL to Ft Morgan, CO route. Just as the AT picks up folks from as far away as NYC, an Eola terminus would capture all of the Chicagoland suburbs and lower Michigan folks who would probably prefer to skip the boring parts of the plains states and drive from the Denver area to points onward. You could add it as a way to make a cross-country road trip from New York more appealing. You could also make it a one night trip, just as the AT is now. Proximity to Chicago means you'd be able to maximize your crew base, available car and maintenance options as well.

This also allows the possibility to just tack on and detach more cars to an existing CZ trip.
 
Last edited:
Top