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Five And Forty Four Years Of Fares. . .

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niemi24s

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. . .and their incremental percent increases are shown on the following chart:
5 Years Of Fares.jpg
The Chart Date is the date in the bottom right hand corner of my bucket charts, the last two of which are posted here: Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets) These dates are not the dates of the changes but the date when I simply happened to finish compiling fares for the chart.

During this five year span, the low bucket Coach fare has risen 8% and low bucket Roomette fare has risen 25% on the Empire Builder. Don't know how representative the EB fares are of all the LD trains.

MODERATORS: If you think others may be interested in the fares for all LD trains which I have on charts not posted in the above link, please let me know.

[Edit: See Post #8 for the 44 year data]
 
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Willbridge

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. . .and their incremental percent increases are shown on the following chart:
View attachment 19313
The Chart Date is the date in the bottom right hand corner of my bucket charts, the last two of which are posted here: Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets) These dates are not the dates of the changes but the date when I simply happened to finish compiling fares for the chart.

During this five year span, the low bucket Coach fare has risen 8% and low bucket Roomette fare has risen 25% on the Empire Builder. Don't know how representative the EB fares are of all the LD trains.

MODERATORS: If you think others may be interested in the fares for all LD trains which I have on charts not posted in the above link, please let me know.
Revision effective June 15, 1976 shows Chicago/Glenview to Seattle $110 Coach, $147 First Class, $35.50 Roomette, $24.25 Slumbercoach single. The Slumbercoach was only available on the daily Empire Builder. The other fares were available on it and the tri-weekly North Coast Hiawatha.
 

niemi24s

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Thanks for the info. So would a Roomette total fare (compared to the present) be $145.50 or $182.50?
 

Willbridge

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Thanks for the info. So would a Roomette total fare (compared to the present) be $145.50 or $182.50?
$182.50

There are various quirks that developed over the years that did not carry over into the modern pricing, but most tickets were sold with Transportation + Accommodation. This started because the Transportation money went to the railway and the Accommodation money went to the Pullman Co.

The railway was free to adjust the Transportation rates, so in the off-season the progressive GN sold parlor car and Western Star travel at Coach fares plus the Accommodation charge, for example. That competed with the NP's Slumbercoaches which were sold on Coach fares plus the Accommodation charge year-round.
 

niemi24s

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Appreciate you speedy reply.

Will re-do the chart to include your data so it covers 44 years of fares. Also need to calculate the percent fare increases on a compounding per annum basis so those figures are comparable.
 

Willbridge

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Here are the August 1968 GN Empire Builder / Western Star Chicago to Seattle fares, which also applied to NP and UP alternative routes. Keep in mind that meals were not included. On the other hand round-trip and other discounts were available.

Coach = $68.42
plus $2.00 Empire Builder seat reservation
Western Star coaches unreserved

First Class = $86.89
plus Duplex Roomette = $26.60
or Roomette = $33.80

When Amtrak took over they simplified the fare structure and then simplified it again. Here are the Chicago to Seattle fares in Amtrak Tariff #2, All-America Train Fares effective August 16, 1972. These applied to the daily Empire Builder and tri-weekly North Coast Hiawatha. Some of the old discounts still applied.

Coach = $88.00
plus $2.00 seat reservation
or $21.00 Slumbercoach

First Class = $111.00
plus Roomette $33.80

Unfortunately I don't have the intercity bus fares to compare with rail coach fares. However, I do know that in the early days there was a lot of bitterness about rail fares that undercut bus fares. I think that in the late 60's and early 70's the bus companies jacked up fares in expectation that they were going to have the market to themselves. It is a fact that GL introduced the MC-7 "Super 7" with 47 knee-breaking seats on a tighter pitch than in the MC-5. After it became apparent that Amtrak had begun holding a rate umbrella over the bus companies the complaints stopped. And, after it appeared that rail passenger service would be around a bit longer, then GL re-spaced the MC-7's for 43 passengers.

Another way to analyze rail coach fares is to get the Federal Minimum Wage that applies to the dates you study.
 

railiner

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Because the accommodation charge went mostly to the Pullman Co., the railroads charged more rail fare (“first class”), for the privilege of buying parlor seats or sleeping car accommodations to make up for less fare paying passengers in the first class cars...
 

bms

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When Amtrak took over they simplified the fare structure and then simplified it again. Here are the Chicago to Seattle fares in Amtrak Tariff #2, All-America Train Fares effective August 16, 1972. These applied to the daily Empire Builder and tri-weekly North Coast Hiawatha. Some of the old discounts still applied.

Coach = $88.00
plus $2.00 seat reservation
or $21.00 Slumbercoach

First Class = $111.00
plus Roomette $33.80
That's an expensive coach seat! According to the BLS Inflation Calculator, $88.00 in August 1972 is equivalent to $545.35 today.
 

Larry H.

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Unless I can't understand the way this is figured, it sort of confirms what I recalled and was often told here it wasn't so.. My recollection was that for about a third more than coach you could step up to a sleeper, ( roomette) accommodation. And that now the roomette is many times the coach fare instead of one third more of it. I don't know why people kept saying that wasn't the case?
 

Exvalley

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The roomette went from $422 in 2015 to $527 in 2020.

If the fare increases matched inflation, the price should be $463.

So, yeah. The roomette fares have gone way up.

On the other hand, the coach fare increase is slightly below the rate of inflation.
 

niemi24s

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Thanks again for the additional info, Willbridge.

Does anybody know. . .

• if Amtrak always had the bucket system? And if not, when did Amtrak start it?
• If meals were included in sleeper fares from the beginning of Amtrak or did that practice start at some later date? And if so, what was that later date?

Edit: Just discovered that some of the earliest Amtrak System Timetables (available here http://www.timetables.org ) have sample Coach and Roomette fares toward the back of the book. It seems the last timetable containing them is the August, 1980 edition.
 
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railiner

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Bucket, or market based fares, came I believe some time in the 90’s, when the travel business adopted the “yield management” model.
Sleepers including meals, I believe started in the 80’s....
 

niemi24s

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Looking at the big picture, since the founding of Amtrak in May, 1971 for one adult on the EB all the way to SEA...

• Coach fares have risen from $81.50 to $188 for an annual increase of 1.7%
• Roomette fares have risen from $137.05 to $527 for an annual increase of 2.8%

Of course, the increases are not smoothly distributed. There was one 1½ year stretch where Coach fare didn't change and one 2 year period with the same Roomette fare. The biggest increase I recall was the Fall 2019 switch from low bucket Coach to the next higher bucket when buying a sleeper.
 

Larry H.

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Your information matches just about what I recall. The step up to a first class ticket as they called it then was reasonable. It used to be simply a price added for those who wished to have a way to sleep and some privacy but not as a way to gouge the public. Today its the latter.
 

willem

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Edit: Just discovered that some of the earliest Amtrak System Timetables (available here http://www.timetables.org ) have sample Coach and Roomette fares toward the back of the book. It seems the last timetable containing them is the August, 1980 edition.
Thank you for your continuing work on fare buckets.

I was sure that I had seen sample fares, and I didn't start looking at system timetables until after 2000. I pulled out one at random to check. My copy of the spring summer 2004 system timetable (which I assume is nothing special) has sample fares starting on page 114, with sample long distance fares on page 116. Maybe there was a gap from 1980 to some later year when the sample fares were omitted. It does give the sample fares for both coach and sleepers, and the sample is a range in all cases. For example, between Chicago and Tucson is 103-201 for coach, 128-369 additional charge for standard bedroom (now roomette), and 284-691 for deluxe bedroom (now bedroom).
 

niemi24s

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Tnx for the heads up, Willem. I checked a couple after the Aug 1980 edition and, seeing no sample fares, incorrectly assumed that was the end of them. But your finding of the ranges for fares is a good indication of the use of the bucket system.

Only 130+ more old timetables to scour for past fares. Aaaa-a-a-r-r-g--h!! Oh well, it's snowing like crazy now, so there's nothing else to do.

<edit: 130+ was too many to plod through, so just did a sampling every few years and concluded sample fares were not included in timetables dated from October, 1980 through April, 2003. Was hoping to pin down the time when meals were included in sleepers by a jump in sleeper prices, but I guess that idea is out the window.

I am, however, suspicious of the fares given as ranges in the October, 2003 through November, 2010 System Timetables. Suspicious in the sense I'm not sure whether the low coach fare given is the low bucket (Value) fare or the 20% discounted Saver fare. Whichever you choose to add to the low Roomette upcharge, either the coach fare shows a sizable dip from the last known fare from 23 years back or sizeable dip down to the next known low bucket Coach fare 5 years hence. And the total Roomette fare is lower than the previous one from years past.

As Elmer Fudd was wont to say, There's something awfuwy scwewy going on awound here!>
 
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niemi24s

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Here's what I mean screwy fares:
EB Fare History.jpg
The first four dates are those of the System Timetables available on line. The last four are of my bucket charts. Just seems odd they'd go down that much in the 23 year period from 1980 through 2003.

Ideas?
 
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