Fare Buckets discussion 2023 Q4 - 2024

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Indeed! I always thought that anything less than $1200 for Miami to Orlando was darned unreasonable :D
Just checked again SB; a Roomette has opened up on the Star, but Bedroom fares are the same.

The NB fares you saw were for Roomettes, but I'm seeing them $15 higher. Maybe you had a discount active? NB Bedroom on the Star is the same as SB; Meteor is a couple hundred lower.

Still, there's at least 1 bucket that's higher than @niemi24s has on the chart.
 
New high bucket on Silver Star for bedroom between NYP & MIA: $2114.
The Bedroom fare structure on the SS & SM is now $2114, 1967, 1724, 1561, and [1416]. Looks like my guess that $1967 was the high bucket was wrong. Chart will be amended in the near future.

Thanks for the info but look on the bright side - that's only $67 per hour! :)
 
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Lets disregard what Rail For Less is showing on its website for a moment. Is it possible for Amtrak to drop a high bucket to a lower bucket for whatever reason, for one day or a few days? Has this ever happened? I check a certain trip twice a day, even though its 10 months out, I am hoping I may see a drop at some point.
 
Lets disregard what Rail For Less is showing on its website for a moment. Is it possible for Amtrak to drop a high bucket to a lower bucket for whatever reason, for one day or a few days? Has this ever happened? I check a certain trip twice a day, even though its 10 months out, I am hoping I may see a drop at some point.
Yes. Bucket drops happen and are common, but typically around only about 3-6 months out. This usually happens when not enough inventory is sold as the departure date nears.

While drops at 10 months out are possible (I had that happen a few months ago), it’s less likely.
 
Lets disregard what Rail For Less is showing on its website for a moment. Is it possible for Amtrak to drop a high bucket to a lower bucket for whatever reason, for one day or a few days? Has this ever happened? I check a certain trip twice a day, even though its 10 months out, I am hoping I may see a drop at some point.
We speak of "bucket drops", I do too, but it really is not an accurate way to think about how it works. All the inventory on a given train is allocated across the bucket price points at any given time, even though only the lowest one having unsold inventory can be seen.

For example, current allocation of the 10 Bedrooms on the the 4/15 departure of 3 might be:

0 in 1st through 5th buckets
5 (known fact) @6th bucket, $2216/single adult
3 (speculation) @7th bucket, $2523/single adult
2 (speculation) @8th bucket, $2879/single adult.

"Bucket drops" happen for two basic reasons. The first is sales have moved into a higher bucket but then cancellations release inventory in lower buckets. In the case above, let's say a few months from now 5 Bedrooms have sold, consuming the entire $2216 inventory and now open inventory starts in the $2523 bucket. Someone cancels, so now there is one room open in the $2216 inventory. The price offered on the website will drop to $2216, a "bucket drop". The other reason is yield management decides that, having consulted the entrails of a goat, they need to reallocate inventory. Say, in December, four months prior to departure, time for some sales to have developed, none of the 5 rooms allocated to the $2216 inventory have yet sold. Yield managers decide to reallocate 2 of those rooms into the 5th, $1951 bucket to hopefully move them. So the price offered on the website drops to $1951, another "bucket drop".

Trying to find bucket drops of the second category, reallocation, is the whole point of this exercise, at least for me. I recently scored a 1st/low bucket roomette of $619 on the Builder for my November return from New York doing it. Prices on the Builder segment had been in, I think, like the 6th(980) or 7th (1227) bucket, but with at least 6 rooms open (this was before someone pointed out railsforless inventory feature to me). With that many rooms open, I had decided to sit tight, watch and wait. At 6 months out I started checking regularly for a reallocation/"bucket drop" and low and behold there was one. And a particularly good one, lowest bucket.

With no actual sales yet developed and 10 months to go until departure, the chances of Amtrak yield management feeling the need to go in and change their inventory allocation right now are slim to none, IMHO. For the time being, they've done their allocation and are happy with it. While yield management is "dynamic" pricing, day to day it isn't very dynamic.

Personally, I'll check occasionally, then at about the 6th month mark, I will start checking regularly, roughly daily. 4-6 months out is when I've found reallocation somewhat regularly happens for the trains I mostly ride. But whoever/whatever does the yield management for the Eagle and Chief seems much less active than those doing the Builder. Railsforless indicates pricing is a lot more static on those trains.

Short answer, bucket drops happen, but are not likely to at 10 months out.
 
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All you Conductors, Engineers and OBS Chiefs, are you sure y'all dont work for Amtrak. You guys know way too much about the workings of the trains. That last post from zephyr17 about bucket drops blew my mind. But I will figure it out. Yes, you guys have helped me enormously, but this is like me being a 6th grader trying to understand a college PHD. I said I wanted to learn, and I will continue listening to all of you. One of you said 90% of Amtrak riders dont need to know this stuff. I see why. Its easier to just book a trip and let it be. But for me, its fun figuring out stuff. If there is way to find the end result, I want to see if I can do it. Please, don't give up on me. I know you asked questions after your first ride on a train. You wanted to learn more. I appreciate all of you. Thank you for all your help.
 
One of you said 90% of Amtrak riders dont need to know this stuff. I see why.
Most people who ride long distance sleepers are casual riders. They'll go once or twice in their lives, pay what price they find to experience long distance rail travel, not knowing if it is good, bad, or indifferent or even that it might change. Then they'll go back to mostly flying.

Many here, including myself, are regular riders. I use Amtrak for routine transportation when I can. It isn't a "special trip" (though all train trips are, to an extent, special), it's how I prefer to get around. Sleepers have always been expensive, but the last few years, especially upper buckets, have gone from pricey to eye-popping. We have sussed out Amtrak's pricing patterns as far as we can in simple self-defense, in order to be able to continue to ride regularly by identifying patterns that might lead to inventory opening in lower buckets that we can grab.
 
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Hi all,

I was trying to book a trip from Chicago to Portland, Oregon and have been checking rates for months (I prefer a bedroom), and the rates just seem obscene. No matter if I checked months ago or now.

For comparison, I took a train with a bedroom from Chicago to Williston, ND 5 years ago and the rate was $495...now the same room for that same trip costs $1,936.

What the hell is going on?? I could understand if the rate was $650...but $1,936?!

Thanks,
Stephanie
 
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Hi all,

I was trying to book a trip from Chicago to Portland, Oregon and have been checking rates for months (I prefer a bedroom), and the rates just seem obscene. No matter if I checked months ago or now.

For comparison, I took a train with a bedroom from Chicago to Williston, ND 5 years ago and the rate was $495...now the same room for that same trip costs $1,936.

What the hell is going on?? I could understand if the rate was $650...but $1,936?!

Thanks,
Stephanie
Sleeper prices are insane. Roomettes and bedrooms. Another example Chicago to LA on the Texas Eagle. Used to find low bucket $600 roomette fares on many trips. Now the cheapest I can find is $960. Will not pay it. Others will.
 
We share your pain! A lot has changed at Amtrak and in the economy in the last five years. At Amtrak, there has been a steady decline in the availability of equipment. When three sleeping cars used to be common, now there are two or even just one. So there are far fewer bedrooms and roomettes available. Secondly there has been a noticeable change in financial demographics, as salaries and/or investment income at the high end have climbed dramatically. So there are far more people that can buy anything they want regardless of the price.

Amtrak has a yield management system that used to favor people that bought early by having low prices at first and then raising them as they were sold. Then they got smarter and start at a midpoint and push the rate up or down depending on anticipated vs actual sales over time. This is actually a better system, as it maximizes return for Amtrak, but it makes it harder to find a bargain.

End result, many of us that used to get roomettes and bedrooms are simply priced out of what we can justify. We chose other options or take fewer trips.
 
Well how sad is that? For people like me, if i'm traveling somewhere alone, I'm going to choose rail travel and a bedroom cross country rather than flying by myself (I hate to fly) - so this takes that option right away from me now, because I am NOT paying $1300 more than I did for the same ticket on the same route.

This is really sad. Especially since it's old equipment, they are derailing.... and yet let's jack up the price and not offer deals especially for returning customers. :(
 
It is sad, but things change. I'm still annoyed that I can't ride in a dome car on the California Zephyr (see my avatar left). There were a few years when Amtrak had plenty of capacity and not that many people wanted to take trains. But that's over. FWIW, the prices now are comparable in adjusted dollars to travel in the 1940's and 50's. All those well dressed people in old pictures were paying amazingly high prices, only the most well off travelled in first class rooms.

We agree that the reliability, service and amenities have all declined. At least the food on western trains has returned to a pleasant experience. But we each have to look at the price and decide if it is worth it to us personally. And many thousands of other people are looking and making the same decision for themselves.
 
And just for comparison, consider the Hudson River Rail Excursions company. They provide a recreation of travel on the famous 20th Century Limited between New York City to Chicago, one night in a standard bedroom. I just checked, and the price is $6800 for two people for one night and three meals. And they consistently sell out. That is what the well off are willing to pay, so for them $1900 on Amtrak is a bargain.

By the way, the HRRE is run by the United Railroad Historical Society, a non-profit. They use all revenues to maintain, staff and run their trains.

https://www.hudsonriverrail.com/photogallery
 
I could understand if the rate was $650...but $1,936?!
I'll make the bold assumption that you think there is a single rate for the same trip. Not so. At present, there are actually 8 different rates for the same trip and for a Bedroom the ratio between the highest and lowest rate is (for 1 adult in a Bedroom from Chicago to Portland) is $3408 ÷ $1021 = 3.34.

Five years ago, that same ratio was $1597 ÷ $722 = 2.21.

So not only have the individual rates risen, their spread has risen.

FYI, on this forum, Rate = Fare = Bucket and those for the full routes of the long distance trains are available here: https://www.amtraktrains.com/threads/long-distance-train-coach-sleeper-fares-buckets.77062/ Note that the rates on the charts up to the one dated 9 Nov 2019 do not include the adult portion of the fare which is the C fare (Coach fate) just above the circled fare.

It's possible you may never find the lowest possible fare for your CHI - PDX trip. Amtrak can indeed get blood out of turnip!
 
That might have been true when the points required for each trip was a fixed relatively low rate. But for many years now, the points are set to an equivalent in cash so it’s just another way of paying for it. The points people are so fond of collecting are just an artifact of a imbalance between the credit card service fee and the actual cost of providing the service which they kick back to us to encourage us to use their card.
 
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That might have been true when the points required for each trip was a fixed relatively low rate. But for many years now, the points are set to an equivalent in cash so it’s just another way of paying for it. The points people are so fond of collecting are actually, just an artifact of a imbalance between the credit card service fee and the actual cost of providing the service which they kick back to us to encourage us to use their card.
While affinity cards often do not really pencil out for many people, I am happy with my $99 FNBO Amtrak card. I charge most all my household expenses on it and get beau coup AGR points as a result. I just used points for a transcontinental sleeper trip that otherwise would have cost a bit over $1300. That $99 was a pretty good investment for me.
 
And just for comparison, consider the Hudson River Rail Excursions company. They provide a recreation of travel on the famous 20th Century Limited between New York City to Chicago, one night in a standard bedroom. I just checked, and the price is $6800 for two people for one night and three meals. And they consistently sell out. That is what the well off are willing to pay, so for them $1900 on Amtrak is a bargain.

By the way, the HRRE is run by the United Railroad Historical Society, a non-profit. They use all revenues to maintain, staff and run their trains.

https://www.hudsonriverrail.com/photogallery
I am retired and living off Social and other investments. Amtrak is catering to the well off. To me, paying $3000 or even $2000 plus in a bedroom from Chicago to Seattle,Portland,Emeryville or LA is insane. Basically a 48 hour trip with good, not great food. I used to do circle trips around the US always getting low bucket, by playing around with dates. That is getting almost impossible to do.

I’ve ridden hundreds of thousands of miles in roomettes over the last 35 years. I just can’t justify the price anymore. I am currently on a rail pass and augmented it by buying a roomette from Chicago to New Orleans on the CONO for $350. I figure $100 for the Coach fare in that and three meals. Cafe car meals, but better than flex. That’s the most I would pay for that length of a trip.

Even trying to get a roomette just for an overnight on the Coast Starlight from San Jose to Klamath Fallsvwas close to $500. I will not pay that inflated price, but as I have and many others have said here, other people will, so Amtrak will charge it.

Too bad there is no discount for avid Amtrak fans like myself who have ridden forever. A pipe dream I know.
 
I am retired and living off Social and other investments. Amtrak is catering to the well off. To me, paying $3000 or even $2000 plus in a bedroom from Chicago to Seattle,Portland,Emeryville or LA is insane. Basically a 48 hour trip with good, not great food. I used to do circle trips around the US always getting low bucket, by playing around with dates. That is getting almost impossible to do.

I’ve ridden hundreds of thousands of miles in roomettes over the last 35 years. I just can’t justify the price anymore. I am currently on a rail pass and augmented it by buying a roomette from Chicago to New Orleans on the CONO for $350. I figure $100 for the Coach fare in that and three meals. Cafe car meals, but better than flex. That’s the most I would pay for that length of a trip.

Even trying to get a roomette just for an overnight on the Coast Starlight from San Jose to Klamath Fallsvwas close to $500. I will not pay that inflated price, but as I have and many others have said here, other people will, so Amtrak will charge it.

Too bad there is no discount for avid Amtrak fans like myself who have ridden forever. A pipe dream I know.
The issue is value proposition versus supply and demand. The value proposition of Amtrak's sleepers is fairly poor, but the demand for the very limited supply is sufficient to sell that limited supply at pretty high prices despite the relatively poor value.

There is no motivation to offer discounts to return customers since there is no need to juice demand.

These are pretty much functions of iron laws of economics. Individual circumstances don't enter into it, beyond that individual's choices. To think otherwise is like King Canute thinking he can command the tide.
 
I'll make the bold assumption that you think there is a single rate for the same trip. Not so. At present, there are actually 8 different rates for the same trip and for a Bedroom the ratio between the highest and lowest rate is (for 1 adult in a Bedroom from Chicago to Portland) is $3408 ÷ $1021 = 3.34.

Five years ago, that same ratio was $1597 ÷ $722 = 2.21.

So not only have the individual rates risen, their spread has risen.

FYI, on this forum, Rate = Fare = Bucket and those for the full routes of the long distance trains are available here: https://www.amtraktrains.com/threads/long-distance-train-coach-sleeper-fares-buckets.77062/ Note that the rates on the charts up to the one dated 9 Nov 2019 do not include the adult portion of the fare which is the C fare (Coach fate) just above the circled fare.

It's possible you may never find the lowest possible fare for your CHI - PDX trip. Amtrak can indeed get blood out of turnip!
I am a bit confused by that chart at that link you provided. Why are there 4 rows of prices and what are the differences between each? Why also is the family bedroom less than a bedroom? Is the chart saying that the least expensive fare, say, from Chicago to Portland, OR is $1021, and the most expensive it's been is $3408?
 

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