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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Mar 30, 2019
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Location
Denver
Having had some experience with fares for transit operations and tours over the years it's interesting to follow fares on Amtrak routes that I'm long familiar with. PDX<>SEA is no longer "$4.95 round-trip - less than a tank of gas!" as it was on Pool trains and Greyhound and Trailways when I was a kid. With the old regulated and fixed tariffs, holiday trains just got longer and longer. Both my dad and myself have been standees. He can recollect the Yellow Cab starter screaming into the callbox phone "everybody to Union Station" as a load of 300 to 400 passengers streamed out into the rain. Now changes in consists are rare and fares are raised to prevent overloads. Here's the scoop for the big Sunday, November 28th, on Pacific TIme.

PDX to SEA as of 1000± on Monday, Nov. 22nd.

AMTRAK Coach / Business / Room

0820 = SO / $85 one left || as of 2000± $65 two left / $85
1200 = $65 one left / SO || as of 2000± train SO
1556 = SO / SO / $216 || as of 2000± no change
1925 = $65 / SO || as of 2000± no change

Flixbus + $2.25 service charge

0800 = $35 || as of 2000± no change
1035 = $40 || as of 2000± no change
1300 = $40 || as of 2000± no change
1915 = $40 || as of 2000± no change

Greyhound

0950 = $35 || as of 2000± no change
1950 = $29 || as of 2000± no change

Ourbus

1820 = $25 || as of 2000± no change

###

In the days of fixed fares, railways kept extra equipment on hand for peak travel. This NP coach began life as an open-section sleeper. Now equipped with walk-over seats from an even older coach it's on the Portland<>Seattle run in the mid-1960's.

In 1965 the one-way special coach fare PDX>SEA was $3.70. Gasoline averaged 31¢ a gallon.

31k in Portland.jpg
 
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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Location
Denver
As of 1030± Pacific Time on Tuesday none of the bus fares and availability had changed. Amtrak's 0820 departure now showed Sold Out. No change on the other three trains.

As an aside, Greyhound fares from Eugene to Portland on the 28th are now higher than from Portland to Seattle. This is caused by the absence of short-turns in the Willamette Valley that they once offered, using pricing to cap demand instead of supply to capture markets. Both of their pandemic runs come through from Los Angeles and have fares slightly lower than on Train 14.

No more... (a GLI short-turn on 12th Street in Salem).

1972 027.jpg
 

MARC Rider

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Baltimore. MD
It would seem to me now that Amtrak's mission has been changed to emphasize providing service that they should focus on capturing more of the market. Getting people out of cars seems to me one of the main justifications of taxpayer financial support for passenger rail. This is both to decrease GHG emissions as well as reduce traffic deaths and traffic congestion. That means that one of the things they could do is use some of the $66 billion they're getting to increase capacity on their existing routes and thus carry more people during busy seasons when even confirmed car nuts might want to avoid the crowded highways. They might also want to do something about narrowing the range of the fare buckets so that fares during busy periods don't get so expensive that people decide to drive anyway.

I generally avoid traveling on Thanksgiving weekend, but once in the early 2000s, we went up on Big Sunday for the day to visit a friend in Philly. The train up in the morning wasn't too bad, but when we went home, 30th St. Station was a zoo. We rode on one of the holiday extra trains, which were composed of MARC single level cars, but despite the more spartan 3x2 seating, we paid through the nose. I think that the round trip for the three of us was something like $150 to $200, and that was 15 to 20 years ago.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Location
Ithaca, NY
Yeah -- requires buying more rolling stock to increase capacity, staffing up maintenance, and then actually USING the rolling stock rather than lazily sticking with fixed consists.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
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Location
Denver
As of 1830± PT, here's the scorecard for Sunday the 28th:

AMTRAK Coach / Business / Room

0820 = SO / $85 one left || as of 2000± $65 two left / $85 || train SO
1200 = $65 one left / SO || as of 2000± train SO || no change
1556 = SO / SO / $216 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1925 = $65 / SO || as of 2000± no change || no change

Flixbus + $2.25 service charge

0800 = $35 || as of 2000± no change || $25
1035 = $40 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1300 = $40 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1915 = $40 || as of 2000± no change || no change

Greyhound

0950 = $35 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1950 = $29 || as of 2000± no change || $32

Ourbus

1820 = $25 || as of 2000± no change || no change

On the EUG>PDX segment, Greyhound fares continue to be as high or higher than Amtrak coach fares. Flixbus is fully booked up. It also looks as though the room charge is too high. It probably was set high in the first place to avoid blocking a passenger with a longer trip but we'll see if they lower it at the last minute.

###

In studying this it appears that if Amtrak had the capacity, as the comments above this post discuss, it could lower fares and still hold a rate umbrella over the bus companies.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,315
Location
Denver
As of 1830± PT, here's the scorecard for Sunday the 28th:

AMTRAK Coach / Business / Room

0820 = SO / $85 one left || as of 2000± $65 two left / $85 || train SO
1200 = $65 one left / SO || as of 2000± train SO || no change
1556 = SO / SO / $216 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1925 = $65 / SO || as of 2000± no change || no change

Flixbus + $2.25 service charge

0800 = $35 || as of 2000± no change || $25
1035 = $40 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1300 = $40 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1915 = $40 || as of 2000± no change || no change

Greyhound

0950 = $35 || as of 2000± no change || no change
1950 = $29 || as of 2000± no change || $32

Ourbus

1820 = $25 || as of 2000± no change || no change

On the EUG>PDX segment, Greyhound fares continue to be as high or higher than Amtrak coach fares. Flixbus is fully booked up. It also looks as though the room charge is too high. It probably was set high in the first place to avoid blocking a passenger with a longer trip but we'll see if they lower it at the last minute.

###

In studying this it appears that if Amtrak had the capacity, as the comments above this post discuss, it could lower fares and still hold a rate umbrella over the bus companies.
Changes as of 2130 on Thanksgiving Day:

Amtrak:
0820 train opened up 1 BC seat @ $85 then Sold Out.
1925 train shows 2 seats left for Coach @ $65.

Flixbus:
0800 bus shows 2 seats left for $40.
1300 bus Sold Out.

Greyhound:
0950 bus up to $39.

Ourbus:
No change.
 
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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,315
Location
Denver
Changes as of 2130 on Thanksgiving Day:

Amtrak:
0820 train opened up 1 BC seat @ $85 then Sold Out.
1925 train shows 2 seats left for Coach @ $65.

Flixbus:
0800 bus shows 2 seats left for $40.
1300 bus Sold Out.

Greyhound:
0950 bus up to $39.

Ourbus:
No change.
On Nov. 26th it looks as though customers are still looking for openings on Nov. 28th when someone cancels. And it appears that Flixbus drew additional customers, possibly those turned off by Greyhound and Amtrak.

Changes as of 1730± on Friday:

Amtrak:
0820 train opened up 2 Coach seats @ $65, BC remains Sold Out.
1200 train Sold Out.
1556 Coast Starlight now shows open Coach seats @ $65, BC remains Sold Out, sleeper rooms @ $216 remain available.
1925 train still shows 2 seats left for Coach @ $65, BC remains Sold Out.

Flixbus:
0800 bus Sold Out.
1035 bus has 4 seats open @ $40.
1300 bus Sold Out.
1915 bus Sold Out.

Greyhound:
0950 bus has seats open @ $42.
1950 bus has seats open @ $38.

Ourbus:
No change @ $25.

###
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
1,315
Location
Denver
On Nov. 26th it looks as though customers are still looking for openings on Nov. 28th when someone cancels. And it appears that Flixbus drew additional customers, possibly those turned off by Greyhound and Amtrak.

Changes as of 1730± on Friday:

Amtrak:
0820 train opened up 2 Coach seats @ $65, BC remains Sold Out.
1200 train Sold Out.
1556 Coast Starlight now shows open Coach seats @ $65, BC remains Sold Out, sleeper rooms @ $216 remain available.
1925 train still shows 2 seats left for Coach @ $65, BC remains Sold Out.

Flixbus:
0800 bus Sold Out.
1035 bus has 4 seats open @ $40.
1300 bus Sold Out.
1915 bus Sold Out.

Greyhound:
0950 bus has seats open @ $42.
1950 bus has seats open @ $38.

Ourbus:
No change @ $25.

###
One last look at the whole PDX > SEA line-up line-up at 1800± PT on eve of the big Sunday, November 28, 2021.

Amtrak:
0820 train Sold Out.
1200 train Sold Out.
1556 Coast Starlight now shows 2 seats left for Coach @ $65, BC remains Sold Out, sleeper rooms @ $282 available.
1925 train now shows 3 seats left for Coach @ $65, BC remains Sold Out.

Flixbus:
0800 bus now has 2 seats open @ $30.
1035 bus Sold Out.
1300 bus Sold Out.
1915 bus now has 2 seats open @ $40.

Greyhound:
0950 bus now shows 3 seats open @ $45.
1950 bus has seats open @ $41.

Ourbus:
No change @ $25.
 
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