BOS-ALB Bus substitution details

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rs9

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My 5/23 trip Bos-Chi now has this bus segment. Is it really a five hour bus trip? Doesn't seem possible.

Should I expect any passengers beyond those ticketed on Amtrak?
 

Willbridge

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My 5/23 trip Bos-Chi now has this bus segment. Is it really a five hour bus trip? Doesn't seem possible.

Should I expect any passengers beyond those ticketed on Amtrak?
If it's substitution for an Amtrak train there will only be passengers ticketed by Amtrak. Situations like this come up when maintenance of tracks must be done or by surprise when a line is closed by Mother Nature or accident.

The bus trip may be slowed down by having to get access to intermediate stations. Even if a bus substitution involves multiple buses, permitting a fast trip between the terminals, the advertised time has to be the all-stops bus. If one or more of the fast trip buses is run it gives more time for the transfer to be made.

I've experienced planned and surprise bus substitutions on Amtrak and on Deutsche Bahn and have had to plan for them for airlines at a charter bus company.
 

Stremba

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I tried a dummy booking for Bos-ALB on 5/23 and it breed listed a bus connection rather than the normal LSL. These are Amtrak charters, not public buses, so you will only ride with other Amtrak passengers.

You could also avoid this bus segment if you wanted to by taking train 171 to NYP then Empire Service train 283 to ALB. That should get you to ALB in plenty of time if you need to catch the LSL. (The NY segment of the LSL is sold out on 5/33)
 

fdaley

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When my wife took the Amtrak substitute bus from Boston to Albany a few years back, she arrived into Albany-Rensselaer station about 90 minutes early. So, the bus ride may be much faster than the train schedule, which means you might wind up waiting a long time at Albany for the train to points west.

This may vary depending on whether more than one bus is involved. As I recall, on my wife's trip there was one bus that carried people express from Boston to Albany (she took that one), and another that made the intermediate stops at Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield and maybe Framingham.
 

railiner

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Bus substitutions time versus rail times are very much affected by route geography, and whether or not good highways run along the entire train route. For example, a bus substituting for the CZ between Denver and Glenwood Springs could do the trip in way less time, using I-70, but if it also must serve Winter Park and Granby, it might take longer than the train would.
 

rs9

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When my wife took the Amtrak substitute bus from Boston to Albany a few years back, she arrived into Albany-Rensselaer station about 90 minutes early. So, the bus ride may be much faster than the train schedule, which means you might wind up waiting a long time at Albany for the train to points west.

This may vary depending on whether more than one bus is involved. As I recall, on my wife's trip there was one bus that carried people express from Boston to Albany (she took that one), and another that made the intermediate stops at Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield and maybe Framingham.
AGR confirmed the bus is making all stops to Albany. Anyone have a rough timeframe for total travel time?
 
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I once had an emergency bustitution on the Pennsylvanian. They bussed us from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. They had 3 buses for us, each bus only stopped at 2 of the 6 stations between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. My bus stopped at Lewistown and Huntingdon and arrived in Pittsburgh about 30 minutes before the scheduled arrival. And that was driving up US22, not the PA Turnpike. That included diversions to the two stations and stretches of highway with frequent traffic lights. Plus some traffic congestion going into Pittsburgh.

I was also once bustituted from a Capitol Limited that was about 2 hours late into Pittsburgh. That's when they were daylighting a couple of tunnels between Connellsville and Cumberland and if the train as more than an hour late, you got bustituted. Again, they had multiple buses, and our bus went straight to DC nonstop (well, a meal stop at Breezewood), and we got into DC right at the scheduled time.

But yeah, I can see that if the bus has to make all scheduled stops, especially if the highways don't directly parallel the rail line, that the bus times could be a lot slower than driving.
 

joelkfla

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railiner

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I once had an emergency bustitution on the Pennsylvanian. They bussed us from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. They had 3 buses for us, each bus only stopped at 2 of the 6 stations between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. My bus stopped at Lewistown and Huntingdon and arrived in Pittsburgh about 30 minutes before the scheduled arrival. And that was driving up US22, not the PA Turnpike. That included diversions to the two stations and stretches of highway with frequent traffic lights. Plus some traffic congestion going into Pittsburgh.

I was also once bustituted from a Capitol Limited that was about 2 hours late into Pittsburgh. That's when they were daylighting a couple of tunnels between Connellsville and Cumberland and if the train as more than an hour late, you got bustituted. Again, they had multiple buses, and our bus went straight to DC nonstop (well, a meal stop at Breezewood), and we got into DC right at the scheduled time.

But yeah, I can see that if the bus has to make all scheduled stops, especially if the highways don't directly parallel the rail line, that the bus times could be a lot slower than driving.
Having multiple buses, and dividing up the stops, can be complicated, unless at least one serves all stops to allow travel between any 2 scheduled stops.
On an all-reserved train, they could plan to cover all advance bookings.
 
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AGR confirmed the bus is making all stops to Albany. Anyone have a rough timeframe for total travel time?
Amtrak will tell you when you need to be at South Station to board the bus. I can't recall how long it takes but it is too long.

We had two bustitutions in our New Orleans to Boston trip in 2019. One was from New Orleans to Jackson, MIss. and the other was from Albany to Boston.

The New Orleans - Jackson trip was the cat's meow of bustitutions. We were well-treated in New Orleans and were escorted to our bus. There were two buses. Our bus was comfortable, uncrowded and traveled directly from New Orleans to Jackson. The second bus made the intermediate stops and arrived in Jackson about a half hour after our bus.

(The only downside to that part of the trip was the fact that the station staff at Jackson, who had ample time to chit-chat among themselves behind the counter, had evidently never bothered to inspect the station men's room which was in dire condition despite the fact that they were about to receive two busloads of people. I finally mentioned it to the station staff and one person did break off from their conversation and attend to it.)

A couple days later we encountered the Albany - Boston bustitution, a truly detestable experience. It didn't help when 48 arrived at Albany and stopped with the Boston sleeper( near the rear of the train) short of the platform (despite the then-recent multi-million dollar Albany yard reconstruction). We were told by the attendant, who soon disappeared, to wait and the train would soon be moved forward to the platform so we could detrain. After about 10 minutes of nothing happening, we decided to leave on our own and merely rolled our luggage through the Boston sleeper to one of the New York sleepers and detrained there. Eventually, we found the Boston bus at the lower level of the station and boarded. There was only one bus and It was jam-packed with almost no empty seats. It might have been nicer to have one direct Albany-Boston bus but we were not so lucky. I am sure that the Amtrak staff on the bus were nice people but after distributing small packages of cookies and peanuts to the passengers they did not seem to want to be involved with the passengers for the remainder of the trip. We then proceeded east. I did not realize prior to this just how far some of the Amtrak stations are from the Interstate. I was disappointed that two blind ladies traveling together received no special attention from the crew and depended on the kindness of strangers.

If I ever hear of another planned bustitution between Albany and Boston in my travels, I most likely will cancel and fly.
 
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It was only because I needed to cancel an upcoming 5/24 trip 3 days ago on #449 BOS-SPG that I 'discovered' I was going to be bused. What riled me the most was I was NOT notified by Amtrak of the substitution! I find that very irritating! Although I know that anually, either CSX shuts the line down WOR-ALB to work on drainage issues (trenching/drainage ditch work) with notices posted well in advance, and MBTA does the same on what's now their track WOR-BOS, I'm guessing that whatever it is is both important and necessary to be done ASAP. 'Surprising' passengers with a bus is unforgivable, though, in my opinion.

I will say I tolerated being bused between NHV and WNL a dozen times or more over 2 years a couple years ago while they were restoring the 2nd track for CTRail commuter trains and building 3 new stations, I knew in advance when I scheduled each trip which trains were bused and which were running. The leased buses were surprisingly nice (for a bus), in my opinion. The Amtrak leased buses from Bakersfield to LAX are also quite nice.

As to a single bus making all stops...that speaks clearly of the fact that there is presently only 1 coach on the train + 1 sleeper + 1 Cafe/BC car. A couple weeks ago, the #448 sleeper had maybe 4 or 5 passengers going beyond SPG to WOR or BOS and fewer than that in business class out of ALB! I'm guessing the single bus can handle 50 passengers, give or take, so, that's all the passengers currently booked on the train anywhere along the way. Historically, a fair number board westbound #449 at BBY and WOR, and maybe 15 or more get off at SPG with a similar number boarding. Given that college graduations are mostly, if not all, complete at this point, there won't be the usual deluge of students with bulky luggage as frequently happens this time of year.

As to drive time BOS-ALB, it can typically be done in about 2.5-3.0 hours, depending on how fast one goes. The reason is cars and even many big rigs can keep 70+ MPH regardless of their going up or down grades in excess of 10% or more. Not so with a train. Due to extreme differences of horsepower per ton between a car and a train, and maintaining safe, 'in control' speed on the way down, plus multiple stops typically 5 minutes or more, the train wins in comfort but loses in all other categories.
 
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fdaley

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upstate New York
AGR confirmed the bus is making all stops to Albany. Anyone have a rough timeframe for total travel time?
Even if the bus makes all the stops, my guess is it will still be faster than the train, maybe 4 to 4.5 hours in total. The Mass Pike roughly parallels the route, though it runs well south of downtown Worcester and north of downtown Springfield. There are interstate-grade highways connecting the pike to the downtown areas, though. Stopping at Pittsfield will require leaving the Pike at Lee and going 20 minutes to the northwest on U.S. 20 -- and then probably following Route 20 for a considerable distance into New York before rejoining I-90 for the last 15 miles or so to Albany.

In the past the substitute buses have skipped Back Bay, with passengers told to board at South Station instead, so that will save time.
 
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In the past the substitute buses have skipped Back Bay, with passengers told to board at South Station instead, so that will save time.
If I recall correctly our eastbound bustitution in 2019 skipped Framingham and Back Bay and went directly to South Station after Worcester. Not that that reduced the agony of the trip to any great degree.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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One other problem that I've observed with bustitutions is that passengers who don't speak the host language face difficulties. In 2008 a Chinese passenger in Saxony was completely at a loss until it turned out that his English was fine, and I could explain the plan to him. Fortunately for this thread, people east of Albany are rumored to speak a form of English.

As with everything else, some crew members and station staff try to cope with those needs and others hide out. In the Saxon case the conductor really was concerned, but she only spoke that dialect.
 
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