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Huge ridership killer in reservation system for 3x weekly service

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Amtrakfflyer

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
474
I was looking at tickets for Christmas from Galesburg to Fullerton. As an advocate for the network trains what I found really upset me. The SWC as we know is one of, if not the most time efficient cross country trains we have (assuming one of the locomotives doesn‘t konk out).

This is what I found.

If you pick a day the train is operating, great it shows a direct train with a total time of 39 hours. If you pick a date the train is not operating it pulls up a convoluted 3 connection trip that takes 74 hours. No where does it say “direct service is operated 3 times weekly” “direct service is operated the next day” or anything to that effect. Any non train enthusiast is going to see 74 hours assume that’s the norm and say forget that when all they had to do was check other dates.

More disturbing I checked GBB to ABQ a trip where there’s no convoluted connections available. If you pick a date the SWC isn’t running it comes back as “no service available“ again no reference to 3x weekly service.

Now that Amtrak’s sleepers are getting great press as a CoVid safe way to travel Amtrak’s management sure messed things up.

Attached are screen shots from reservations screen.
 

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Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
82
If you want to travel from New York to Los Angeles,the two biggest cities in the US you can only do it three days a week. From Chicago to LA you can do it every day on three different routes. Biggest problem is from NY to Chicago. The three trains that get you there,the Lake Shore,Cardinal and the Capitol Limited all run the same three days of the week. Unbelievable.
 

Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
82
As an example,if you wanted to go from Chicago to LA on a Wednesday,when you punch in the date it comes up with no service. If you had to leave on a Wednesday you could take the Zephyr to Sacramento or Martinez and take a San Jaoquin to Bakersfield and a thruway bus to LA. That option doesn't come up. Unless you are an Amtrak devotee,who loves playing around with dates,and most people aren't you are just not going to bother.
 

bms

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
174
Location
Cleveland
Even if the customer calls, I doubt every agent would be familiar with all the alternate routings that don't show up in the system.
 

Exvalley

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
177
Biggest problem is from NY to Chicago. The three trains that get you there,the Lake Shore,Cardinal and the Capitol Limited all run the same three days of the week. Unbelievable.
Isn't that done so you can connect with the western trains?

Still... I agree that it's absurd that all of the NYC-Chicago trains travel on the same exact three days per week.
 

Sidney

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
82
i mentioned you can get from Chicago to the West Coast every day. if not direct,then using two or more trains. That is why I don't understand NY/DC to Chicago on the same three days. Of course,you can spend the night,or two or three nights in Chicago,but that could be quite pricey.

You can get to Pittsburgh from New York every day. You can only get to Cleveland from NY three days a week. Any logical explanations?
 

John Bobinyec

Conductor
Joined
Sep 18, 2009
Messages
1,772
Location
CYN
For the same reason that, instead of having each of the Silvers alternate days - the Meteor runs 4 days in a row and then the Star runs 3 days in a row :confused:
I'm sorry. I still don't understand that. What exactly is the reason?

jb
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,321
Location
Gator Country Florida
The answer seems to be the same answer as to why all the NY-CHI trains run on the same 3 days instead of running on different schedules so that there would be 7 day service between NY-CHI ...

No One Knows!

It doesn't make sense!
 

dlagrua

Conductor
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,143
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
The answer seems to be the same answer as to why all the NY-CHI trains run on the same 3 days instead of running on different schedules so that there would be 7 day service between NY-CHI ...

No One Knows!

It doesn't make sense!
It does make sense if management is looking to kill the service. If they didn't like the revenue coming in now just wait until the Oct numbers are in. IMO,if the three day service stays in place, ridership will never come back . It was a horrible error to do this but we have mostly airline people running Amtrak right now.
 

lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
962
We are coming to the moment of truth. A Continuing resolution is required to keep the government open past September 30th. A CR to push things out until after the election seems likely. This is the final chance to avert or delay the 3x a week and furloughs. The most likely best case scenario is supplemental funding for Amtrak in the CR to allow them to avert furloughs and 3x a week service for the duration of the CR. There are some indications that democrats may insist that coronavirus relief be included in the CR. So we will see what happens.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
529
I was looking at tickets for Christmas from Galesburg to Fullerton. As an advocate for the network trains what I found really upset me. The SWC as we know is one of, if not the most time efficient cross country trains we have (assuming one of the locomotives doesn‘t konk out).

This is what I found.

If you pick a day the train is operating, great it shows a direct train with a total time of 39 hours. If you pick a date the train is not operating it pulls up a convoluted 3 connection trip that takes 74 hours. No where does it say “direct service is operated 3 times weekly” “direct service is operated the next day” or anything to that effect. Any non train enthusiast is going to see 74 hours assume that’s the norm and say forget that when all they had to do was check other dates.

More disturbing I checked GBB to ABQ a trip where there’s no convoluted connections available. If you pick a date the SWC isn’t running it comes back as “no service available“ again no reference to 3x weekly service.

Now that Amtrak’s sleepers are getting great press as a CoVid safe way to travel Amtrak’s management sure messed things up.

Attached are screen shots from reservations screen.
Someone else may have commented by now, but there must be more than one way to access the schedule/reservation system because I tried also on SWC several days ago and when I put on a date that the train didn't run, it informed me that no trains were available that day, but there is a train the next day and it listed the next date.
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
745
i mentioned you can get from Chicago to the West Coast every day. if not direct,then using two or more trains. That is why I don't understand NY/DC to Chicago on the same three days. Of course,you can spend the night,or two or three nights in Chicago,but that could be quite pricey.

You can get to Pittsburgh from New York every day. You can only get to Cleveland from NY three days a week. Any logical explanations?
Logical that Amtrak views Cleveland as the Mistake By The Lake. (Just couldn't help myself, I lived in Pittsburgh a long time ago, and that's what we called it. Still a rivalry? I don't know...)
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,321
Location
Gator Country Florida
there must be more than one way to access the schedule/reservation system because ... it informed me that no trains were available that day, but there is a train the next day and it listed the next date.
This is the problem. When people look to schedule a trip they check schedule to see "what time do I need to leave on the day I want to travel" ... not, what days am I "allowed" to travel by this carrier. Because Amtrak is making too much work out of a simple booking and not offering travel when people "want" to travel and are dictating when people are "allowed" to travel - most will simply chose a different mode of transportation so they can travel on the day(s) THEY want to travel - not the day(s) Amtrak tells them they have to travel.
 

Michigan Mom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
670
Location
MI
This is all so weird. It looks like, the goal is to deter people from traveling coast to coast by train, instead steering revenue towards shorter hauls/no more than a half or third of the country.
If you are committed to traveling around by train, you'll have to adjust.
If you want to get somewhere faster, back you go to commercial aviation.
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
575
I can't believe how convoluted it is to try to book a LD train on the Amtrak website. If you click on schedule, you get the old schedules. If you 'ask' 'Julie' which days the train you want runs, you get nothing. If somebody like me, who has traveled a lot by Amtrak, gets frustrated by this cluster of a website, I can't think many first timers will manage to work their way through to booking.

(I can hear in my head the Amtrak management: "You say this like it's a bad thing!")
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Messages
11
Because of their lack of common sense on how to make profits from LD trains. Hint: Put 5x number of sleeper cars on every consist and cut the sleeper price in 50%, and do the math
 
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dlagrua

Conductor
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
3,143
Location
Hillsborough, NJ
What is needed is a wildcat strike on Oct 1st by all Amtrak workers. Grind the service to a halt in support of workers who will lose their jobs. Show Amtrak management that the workers are Amtrak and without them nothing moves. If they need more people on the picket lines they can count on me to join in, peacefully of course.. That will get the attention of Congress and the rest of the political establishment. Point is something needs to be done and why is not Amtrak a subject of the presidential debates?
 

jruff001

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
105
What is needed is a wildcat strike on Oct 1st by all Amtrak workers. Grind the service to a halt in support of workers who will lose their jobs. Show Amtrak management that the workers are Amtrak and without them nothing moves. If they need more people on the picket lines they can count on me to join in, peacefully of course.. That will get the attention of Congress and the rest of the political establishment.
Illegal under the RLA. Plus anyone would hardly notice, given ridership levels.

Point is something needs to be done and why is not Amtrak a subject of the presidential debates?
Hardly anyone cares (except on a couple of small message boards), especially outside the NEC.
 
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lordsigma

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
962
I just wanted to add one comment that I hope I don't get my head torn off for. I've been thinking the last couple days about all that's been going on with Amtrak during the pandemic and all the stuff we have all been discussing for months and I've tried to see a light at the end of the tunnel. As bad as this 3x a week plan is - and as bad as things like universal Flexible dining are.....it could still be worse folks given what's going on in the world. Look what VIA did outright cutting the Ocean and Canadian with no clear idea of when they will return, look at what some of the airlines are planning for cuts - some smaller airports are very concerned about their futures with some of the cuts that are being talked about. We will still have a train running on all the routes - Amtrak is still moving ahead with the important capital projects needed to keep the network going such as the new LD locomotives and the SWC route work.

I would take where we are with Amtrak over the current VIA situation any day. We are still going to have the skeleton structure in place to be able to return things to normal once the situation is passed if Congress acts. And we have a moderately good chance that things will be righted once Congress has a chance to pay attention to this issue as part of a COVID-19 relief bill, and hopefully some of the other issues like dining will be solved with a long term reauthorization. As much as I have my complaints about the current Amtrak management, it could be much worse. Not saying that advocates don't have a battle coming, just that we should acknowledge the positive along with the negative. Unfortunately the timing of the pandemic so close to the election means we will most likely have to tolerate 3x a week and the furloughs for a period. But Congress now knows what it has to do to right the Amtrak ship once we get past this election.
 

Lonestar648

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
May 17, 2015
Messages
2,708
Big issue is that no one can make figure out the reservation system, so the long advance reservations level that management says will trigger return of service is impossible to achieve. Looking through the smoke screen, Amtrak management is saying look at this hand what we are doing to keep trains running, while with the other they are quietly making service impossible thus setting up for the “logical” conclusion to Congress that all LD trains need to be eliminated. Also, I don’t see Amtrak management making any agreements with the host railroads to hold open the slots that will be unused with the reduction in service. If they don’t do that, then the host railroads may never let Amtrak go back to full service without renegotiated agreements.
 
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