How do feel about riding "Coach" ?

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Qapla

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
924
The "3 time food cost" is the "rule of thumb" for food service ... it is not a "locked-in formula" that can't be adjusted

However, adjusting it disproportionately high kills sales rather than making additional revenue.

In your illustration, while it is true that location can have an impact on actual profit margins and therefore price setting, if a restaurant opens in a place with unusually high rent - they may not be able to adjust their price up enough to make up the difference ... that is one of the reasons many restaurants fail.

Amtrak may need to have "slightly" higher prices than a land-based place - but they cannot have disproportionately high prices just because they have a captive clientele ... there is a limit to how much people will pay for food, especially if that food is not up to the quality expected for the price.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
706
I'm not sure how that sort of simplistic model can be universally applicable. That $5 worth of ingredients is going to have to be sold at vastly different prices, depending on the location, local prevailing pay for workers, cost of financing, etc. all of which are highly variable. For example, a deli in Manhattan is just going to be more expensive than the same deli food in, say, Charlotte, NC. That might explain why I paid $12 for a bagel with lox in Manhattan, but only $7.00 for the same type of bagel and lox in Charlotte (or Portland Maine.) If I made the sandwich myself, I would probably pay about $4-$5 for the food, but, of course, a restaurant can get the food wholesale.

And I think that a common argument here is that it's quite possible that the dining car service isn't losing the kind of money that is being claimed. If that's the case, then the real problem with Amtrak dining car service isn't the prices of the food, but rather the variety, the fact that shortages occur too frequently, and the fact that their throughput isn't large enough, so that people who might want to eat in the dining car can't. I suspect that with proper accounting, they could justify (through increased revenue) increasing staff to serve more people more efficiently, having the dining cars open (and thus able to make money) longer hours, separating meal charges from room fares, and all the other stuff that's been discussed here ad nauseum.
Separating food charges from accommodation charges would be a great start. Encouraging coach pax to use the dining car if they want to would be another. And being open longer hours, when the pax manifest is large, would be yet another.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,475
Given the cutbacks over the past years in the number of coach and sleeping car attendants, there might not be enough to do the job properly, at least on full trains. Also, can one roll and airline-style food cart between train cars?
They just did the at your seat meals a couple of years ago.. I wasn’t aware of any cuts to attendants recently?
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
356
They just did the at your seat meals a couple of years ago.. I wasn’t aware of any cuts to attendants recently?
I wasn't in on the design, but Superliner coaches seemed to have assumed that one coach = one attendant. As a frequent coach passenger, I wouldn't mind being snubbed in the dining car if pushing those redundant call buttons actually did something. People eating at their seats on a long trip need someone to keep the place tidy. As a person with Parkinson's, I've noticed that it makes other passengers nervous when I'm carrying a full-blown meal down the aisle (because the coach attendant is busy hauling meals for the seriously disabled).

I know it's hard to do the accounting, but Amtrak needs to figure out whether it's cheaper to staff up the coaches or serve good food in the snack bars or condescend to let coach passengers choose to eat in the diner.

As a foreigner I actually prefer coach. For me big part of travelling is about meeting and learning from locals, this is a lot easier in coach. That said last time I didnt a 15 day trip I splurged for 2 nights roomette for the experience.
Andy, as an American I like to meet people from different parts of my own country, too.
 

BoulderCO

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2015
Messages
128
Yes, I think they should warmly welcome coach passengers in the dining car rather than treat them as an afterthought. More volume in the diner should be a good thing if they manage it correctly. When I travel in coach I always try for dinner in the dining car, but even when we were allowed to eat there they didn't make it easy. I often got missed when they were taking reservations. With everyone having phones these days, they really need to modernize their reservations system. They complain about not having enough employees to do the service and yet have someone wandering around the train trying to take reservations. It would be great just to have an app on my phone that would allow me to select from available times for dinner!
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
706
As often as the regular Amtrak website is down, why should we expect some mobile app required to schedule dinner reservations to be any different?

Can you imagine the chaos on board a train if the app was down for six critical hours? The Amtrak website outage often spans DAYS, not hours.
 

sttom

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
477
I'm not sure how Amtrak structures its website or IT systems in general, but one solution is to use an off the shelf system like OpenTable or Yelp to manage its reservations so if the system goes down, at least its not on Amtrak. And if it does, there will be a dedicated team working on the outage.

As for Amtrak's existing IT system, I have no idea how they structure their ecosystem. The problem is likely on who ever the developers are and/or the people that host the website and/or who ever handles the sales and/or how the station staff/ticket machines work with the system. The point is there are a lot of places where an IT system can fail and this potential increases whenever you have more systems interacting with each other.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,475
The Amtrak routes do not have consistent cell and wifi service. Until that changes, it’s really not an option.

And that’s if we ever see the return of traditional dining cars.
 

Shortline

Conductor
Joined
Mar 13, 2011
Messages
1,092
Well, it's no longer First Class, that's for sure. But I only do coach on corridor day trains, on long distance trains, even for day trips, I book a sleeper generally for anything over 4 hours. Overnight, I will have a sleeper, or I will fly. I have no desire to do overnights in coach, ever again. It was fine, when I was a young Airman, bouncing between training stations, but I'm not 18 anymore and greatly value my privacy, and comfort. Same concept when I fly, anything over 4 hours, and I'm in business, or first class.

That's not a commentary on those who do. I know many quite wealthy persons, who fly coach, and would even coach Amtrak overnight to save a dollar. I guess that's why they're wealthy. Or at least, how they got there. But I am just at a point in my life, where I can spend the money, and do, or just don't bother. While I do buy First Class tickets typically for transcon flights or overseas, most of my flying domestically is on Southwest, which as you all know, is all coach. I could have enough status on Delta or American, to be upgraded free, 99% of the time, but I really dig Southwest, their Rapid Rewards program is perfect for me. Having Companion Pass status for the last several years meant my wife, or son, would fly with me anytime they wanted, for next to no cost. That alone, was worth it. And honestly, other than no first class seats, I find the service, and FF program perks better on SW than on any other airline I have ever held status on. So yeah, I don't avoid coach because of a class, or status thing, I just really appreciate the comfort, privacy, and convenience of sleeping cars, day, or night.
 
Last edited:

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,475
I’m with you shortline! I bounce between southwest, American and delta. I love the rewards and cancellation policy of southwest but I really hurt my back on a long southwest flight due to the tight seating. I have flown since then on southwest but I choose first class on delta or American now unless the schedule or price doesn’t work out for me.

Honestly, for a little more $$$ you get better service, better seating, etc. in the busy airports and train stations priority boarding and security is worth it alone. I’d much rather be settling into my seat (with a pre-departure drink on a flight!) then crowding around a gate hoping there is room for my carry on.
 

Devil's Advocate

Conductor
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,354
The Amtrak routes do not have consistent cell and wifi service. Until that changes, it’s really not an option. And that’s if we ever see the return of traditional dining cars.
All they need is a "now seating" sign in the lounge car. Repeatedly addressing the entire train because they're finally ready for one or two tables to be seated is just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stx

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,475
All they need is a "now seating" sign in the lounge car. Repeatedly addressing the entire train because they're finally ready for one or two tables to be seated is just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
How about refusing service to a deaf family who was patiently waiting in the lounge car but didn’t come when they called their name over the pa?
 

anumberone

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
1,390
As a foreigner I actually prefer coach. For me big part of travelling is about meeting and learning from locals, this is a lot easier in coach. That said last time I didnt a 15 day trip I splurged for 2 nights roomette for the experience.
I know you are surrounded by more people in coach than a roomette. But, except for maybe being in a crowded situation how is it easier to meet people. Seems to me it's about the same as getting on a plane. I know on a long trip you see others more often, that don't mean you can have a conversation. I see the lounge, cafe, observation, dining car a good place to meet folks, both coach and roomette riders.
 
Top