Bike stuff

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Cho Cho Charlie

Conductor
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Apr 9, 2009
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Amtrak sells a bike box. What that guy does with the box afterwards, is up to him. It isn't Amtrak's box anymore, to even give away to someone else.
I think the issue being discussed is when a passenger with a bike box decides to give the box back to Amtrak, they just cut it up and recycle it instead of reusing it for another passenger with a bike.
I think an important part of this discussion is the fact that once Amtrak sells the box to someone, it isn't theirs anymore.

If you have "beef" with the owner of box, you need to take it up with them, not Amtrak.

I guess you could always require the owner of the box to stand outside by the curb, waiting, hoping, for some other bike owner to whom they could then give/sell their box.
 

mulveyr

Train Attendant
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Oct 13, 2011
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I think the issue being discussed is when a passenger with a bike box decides to give the box back to Amtrak, they just cut it up and recycle it instead of reusing it for another passenger with a bike.
Well, almost. The passengers would leave the boxes in usable condition by the dumpster at the side of the building and others would take and reuse them. Then Corporate decided that this practice was cutting into new box sales, and ordered station staff to make sure they were destroyed.
Wow, that's pretty ridiculous. At the very least they could take the boxes and resell them!
Interesting--my son and transported our boxed bikes from ALB to ROC just yesterday. In previous trips ( last one a couple of years ago ), the baggage guys just gave us used boxes; some of them had clearly been reused a LOT, but were perfectly fine. When we went to pick ours up this morning, they immediately cut and folded them before throwing them into the trash. We wondered if it was because of a space issue at the ROC station ( which is being rebuilt--they basically just have a glorified shed at the moment. )
 

PVD

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Maybe someone got caught reselling a box and pocketing it, maybe someone complained about paying for a used box, lots of possibilities.........
 

norfolkwesternhenry

Lead Service Attendant
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Jun 6, 2016
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I've had my folder put just about everywhere imaginable: luggage rack, space at end of horizon cars, empty handicap room, conductor's lounge in transdorm, ski locker, and even one conductor had me put in in the overhead luggage rack, against the rules of course.

The only problem you might have is on viewliner sleepers - no luggage rack or space of any kind. The time I did a round trip on the LSL, I sneaked it into the coach luggage area.
in a Viewliner roomette, there is a small luggaga space that is over the aisle, but only accessible from the roomette, you can stand on the toilet to access it.
 

MSP_Train_Hopper

Train Attendant
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Jan 17, 2012
Messages
53
I just noticed that the new Empire Builder schedule (8/1) has a new footnote saying that there are now bike racks available. It says a reservation and fee are needed and the passenger mush handle their own bike to and from the baggage car. Doesn't say how much the fee is, if it is only available at checked baggage stations or anything else. Beyond this, I didn't see anything on the Empire Builder webpage or the Bikes on Board page. Has anyone else heard anything further?
 

PaulM

Conductor
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Jun 27, 2008
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I just noticed that the new Empire Builder schedule (8/1) has a new footnote saying that there are now bike racks available. It says a reservation and fee are needed and the passenger mush handle their own bike to and from the baggage car. Doesn't say how much the fee is, if it is only available at checked baggage stations or anything else. Beyond this, I didn't see anything on the Empire Builder webpage or the Bikes on Board page. Has anyone else heard anything further?
Where did you see this footnote? If a train carries bikes and a reservation is needed, the "Add a Bike" icon will appear on the reservation query results. One hasn't appeared yet (8/28).
 
Joined
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Where did you see this footnote? If a train carries bikes and a reservation is needed, the "Add a Bike" icon will appear on the reservation query results. One hasn't appeared yet (8/28).
It shows up in the "Service on the Empire Builder®" section of this schedule. Would be nice if it were really true!
 

Thirdrail7

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I just noticed that the new Empire Builder schedule (8/1) has a new footnote saying that there are now bike racks available. It says a reservation and fee are needed and the passenger mush handle their own bike to and from the baggage car. Doesn't say how much the fee is, if it is only available at checked baggage stations or anything else. Beyond this, I didn't see anything on the Empire Builder webpage or the Bikes on Board page. Has anyone else heard anything further?
Unless something changes, there should be an announcement for this train (and others) in the next few weeks.
 

Bjartmarr

Service Attendant
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Aug 17, 2014
Messages
129
Letting us use the racks on the CS would simplify my LAX-SJC travel plans significantly.

Although if they're charging $25, that's significantly more money than taking the San Joaquin, where I can take a bike for free.
 

TiBike

OBS Chief
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Apr 18, 2015
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I'm moving this reply over from the new system schedule thread...

I'm confused regarding the Coast Starlight. Are you saying that you could take an unboxed bike to and from anywhere between Seattle and Eugene for $5, or between San Luis Obispo and San Diego for free? But anywhere else you would need to box it, which requires the originating and arrival stations to have baggage service?
No, that's not what it's looking like, although it's not impossible.

What I'm really saying is that the new system schedule is confusing - unlike any of the other LD routes, there's no verbiage in the CS section regarding bikes. But when you look at the compilation time tables – all coastal California service and all Oregon/Washington service – the CS listing has the same bike icon at the top as the corridor trains. There's no explanation of what that means on the California Coastal table, but there's a note on the Oregon/Washington table that says:

Unboxed Bicycles: Amtrak Cascades trains are equipped with a limited number of bicycle racks for carrying unboxed bicycles. Reservations are required; passengers must lift the bicycle to shoulder height to put it into and pick it up from the baggage car. Bicycles in a bicycle box may also be checked on the Amtrak Cascades and the Coast Starlight between stations that offer checked baggage service; nominal fees also apply.
I'm worried that my confusion is just misplaced hope that the CS isn't being singled out as the only LD route without roll up/roll on bike service. Because that's what it's reading like, at least in the northwest.

Link to the new system schedule: https://www.amtrak.c...able-090916.pdf

Yep, the Coast Starlight-specific section makes no mention of bikes but the Amtrak Cascades and California Coastal compilations have a bike icon at the top of the CS column, consistent with the corridor routes.

Two "pure" case explanations:

1. The CS will not allow unboxed bikes and the bike icon is a mistake.

2. The CS will carry bikes by corridor rules: every station and free in California and $5 in Washington and Oregon.
I'm confused regarding the Coast Starlight. Are you saying that you could take an unboxed bike to and from anywhere between Seattle and Eugene for $5, or between San Luis Obispo and San Diego for free? But anywhere else you would need to box it, which requires the originating and arrival stations to have baggage service?
 
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Thirdrail7

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2. The CS will carry bikes by corridor rules: every station and free in California and $5 in Washington and Oregon.
Unless something changes, every station on this route with checked baggage will offer walk up bike service. California is only free where it overlaps with the Pacific Surfliner services, it is $5 where it overlaps with the Cascades. Otherwise, it is $20.
 

TiBike

OBS Chief
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Apr 18, 2015
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So $20 where it overlaps with the Capitol Corridor/San Joaquin too?
 

neroden

Conductor
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I just noticed that the new Empire Builder schedule (8/1) has a new footnote saying that there are now bike racks available. It says a reservation and fee are needed and the passenger mush handle their own bike to and from the baggage car. Doesn't say how much the fee is, if it is only available at checked baggage stations or anything else. Beyond this, I didn't see anything on the Empire Builder webpage or the Bikes on Board page. Has anyone else heard anything further?
Unless something changes, there should be an announcement for this train (and others) in the next few weeks.
Woo hoo! Do you think you could give a vague coded hint regarding whether this announcement will apply to the bikes travelling in a car with a VIEW?
 

Thirdrail7

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So $20 where it overlaps with the Capitol Corridor/San Joaquin too?

Since there are specific cities mentioned and I'm not familiar with those routes or policies, I prefer to wait for the official announcement or the internal leak to come out. I'm sure they are forthcoming....particularly the leak. ;)

I just noticed that the new Empire Builder schedule (8/1) has a new footnote saying that there are now bike racks available. It says a reservation and fee are needed and the passenger mush handle their own bike to and from the baggage car. Doesn't say how much the fee is, if it is only available at checked baggage stations or anything else. Beyond this, I didn't see anything on the Empire Builder webpage or the Bikes on Board page. Has anyone else heard anything further?
Unless something changes, there should be an announcement for this train (and others) in the next few weeks.
Woo hoo! Do you think you could give a vague coded hint regarding whether this announcement will apply to the bikes travelling in a car with a VIEW?
Yes....and there is a backup plan in case a room with a view is not available. I'm very interested in seeing what the members of this board think of the plan. Unless something changes, I'm thinking some are not going to like it, particularly when it comes to transfers.

We'll find out soon enough, I suppose.
 

Ryan

Conductor
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Apr 14, 2008
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17,017
Saying that folks here aren't going to like something Amtrak does is about a bold a prediction as saying the sun is going to rise in the east this morning. :D
 

PaulM

Conductor
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Jun 27, 2008
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2,267
I'm very interested in seeing what the members of this board think of the plan. Unless something changes, I'm thinking some are not going to like it, particularly when it comes to transfers.
I wouldn't want to disappoint Ryan.

If I understand the cryptic posts, I can see why many are not going to like it. I'm sure the main complaint will be that It ignores the fact that the vast majority of stations don't have baggage service, in which there is not much new here. As an aside, I just noticed that checked unboxed bikes on certain eastern single level trains is limited to "staffed stations", which is close but not the same as stations with baggage service. So again, not much new.

Cost wise, assuming we aren't in the $5 Cascade or $0 Surfliner category, the new system will cost $20 vs. the old $25 (15 for box + 10 handling) or $10 if you supply your own box. I presume you are referring to the fact that each time you transfer, you get hit with $20 again, whereas you pay the box and handling charge only once, no matter how many times you transfer.

Since traveling without a bike is normally a show stopper for me, I'm happy to pay whatever Amtrak wants to charge. But as far as I'm concerned, only Capitol Limited style service where you can bring a bike on board at any station, checked or otherwise, represents any improvement.
 

TiBike

OBS Chief
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Apr 18, 2015
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709
But as far as I'm concerned, only Capitol Limited style service where you can bring a bike on board at any station, checked or otherwise, represents any improvement.
I agree with you, about 95%. As I'm understanding it, it would be an improvement for stations that have baggage service but aren't fortunate to fall under state jurisdiction. Like my home station, Salinas. It would put us on a par with every station, save one, between Sacramento and San Diego. On the other hand, it would be a massive eff-you to Paso Robles, which would still be the only station south of Chico where you can't get a bike on board any way, any how. So okay, I'm back up to 100%. :huh:
 

TiBike

OBS Chief
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Apr 18, 2015
Messages
709
Amtrak apparently made the big announcement this morning in St. Paul...


http://www.startribune.com/amtrak-announces-easier-bike-storage-for-cyclists-traveling-by-train/393986671/

No real details in the story, just that:

"Bicyclists will be able to hand their bike up to a conductor at the baggage car before boarding. For a $25 fee, your bicycle will be tagged and kept in a new baggage car bike rack until you leave the train."

That's probably not 100% accurate :)

Still looking for the official press release and/or other details...
 

TiBike

OBS Chief
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Apr 18, 2015
Messages
709
More promises about better service mañana...

While the new bicycle accommodations were announced Monday, the service is not yet available to all Amtrak stops, James said. Generally, he said, the station needs to have working staff on hand to assist cyclists in loading and unloading their bicycles. Currently, the only stop between the Twin Cities and Chicago that will take bicycles is La Crosse, he said. The plan is that Red Wing and Winona will be added over the next year.



"We want to roll it out and make sure we get it right," he said, adding that the service is also available at Amtrak's stop in Glacier National Park.
Amtrak's website says East Glacier Park station is staffed, with baggage service. On the August Empire Builder pdf schedule, though, there's no baggage icon next to it.
 

TiBike

OBS Chief
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
Messages
709
The "add bike to trip" button is showing up as a booking option for the Empire Builder and the California Zephyr, but not the Coast Starlight yet.
 

PaulM

Conductor
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"Bicyclists will be able to hand their bike up to a conductor at the baggage car before boarding. For a $25 fee, your bicycle will be tagged and kept in a new baggage car bike rack until you leave the train."

That's probably not 100% accurate :)
And from the linked article

Generally, he said, the station needs to have working staff on hand to assist cyclists in loading and unloading their bicycles. Currently, the only stop between the Twin Cities and Chicago that will take bicycles is La Crosse, he said. The plan is that Red Wing and Winona will be added over the next year.
As I said, nothing new here.

I guess we really should wait for the official announcement. But if this is true, it just adds to the confusion. Does this mean that over the next year, Amtrak will staff RW and Winona, or that it will discover that the cyclist plus conductor will be able to load the 15 to 30 pound bike without further assistance?

As a side note, prior to the introduction of the Capitol Limited service, the media was reporting the cost would be $25. It turned out to be $20. Also, there was or still is confusion about the capacity. First it was 8 racks,, then 7. Based on my most recent experience, both numbers may be correct. There are 7 racks hanging from the ceiling. When I boarded in Cumberland (with a bike ticket of course), all 7 racks were full. But there was plenty of space along a wall with hooks and cables to secure an 8th bike; and the conductor saw me do it without comment.
 

TiBike

OBS Chief
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
Messages
709
There are 7 racks hanging from the ceiling. When I boarded in Cumberland (with a bike ticket of course), all 7 racks were full. But there was plenty of space along a wall with hooks and cables to secure an 8th bike; and the conductor saw me do it without comment.
That's the way it works on the Capitol Corridor, too. If a cyclist gets on a car and the racks are full, he/she stands and waits for a stop or two, and a rack will open up. Or will carry the bike up the stairs, through the coach, to another car, and then down the stairs. No drama.

The folks in Texas and Oklahoma seem to have figured it out. From the Heartland Flyer page:

"You must have a travel document (ticket) for your bike. You must also complete a baggage ID tag and attach it to your bike. If you are boarding at the Fort Worth station, you can obtain baggage ID tags at the ticket office. Passengers boarding at unstaffed stations will obtain bike tags from the onboard train crew."

"You must be physically capable of lifting your bike up to a station employee standing on a baggage cart or to the train crew at the baggage car door. Once in the baggage car, Amtrak personnel will store and secure your bike in the bike racks."
No need for station staff to assist, or be involved at all. This is not rocket science.
 
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