Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets)

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sttom

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The problem with the fare buckets is there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for them other than "we can charge this". The price difference between a coach seat and a roomette at the lowest bucket range anywhere from 2.8 times the cost of coach to 4.3 times based on the numbers before the current update. And for reference, a roomette takes up about the same space as 3 coach seats.
 

niemi24s

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You can probably drive yourself into an early grave trying to figure out why fares are what they are. Early on I figured out that if I didn't know why a gallon of milk cost what it did I certainly couldn't figure out why anything on Amtrak cost what it did. All I really do know about Amtrak fares comes from messing around with buckets for years:

• Coach fares increase in a roughly geometric pattern with the next higher being approximately 20 - 30% more.
• Sleeper fares increase in a roughly arithmetic pattern with the next higher being some (kind of) fixed amount more.

Other than that, I'm like Schultz in that old TV show - I know nothing!
 
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sttom

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I just did the ratios and figured out there was no reason to put any more thought into why the prices are what they are. I only did that because of one of the various discussions on slumber coaches and people insisting that there was any pattern in the differences between coach and sleeper fares. And its a devil may care attitude as far as I can tell.
 

niemi24s

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Glad you've thrown in the towel on this why business. It's good for mental health! Cripes, I can't even figure out this what they were business as mentioned in the <Edit> in Post #19 of this thread: Five And Forty Four Years Of Fares. . .

There must be something about these older fares that I just don't understand.
 

sttom

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As to the old fares, it seems like the railways before Amtrak all had their own variations of fares, what they offered on the train itself and various deals they'd offer through they year at different points in time. I guess it would be like trying to compare air fares over time between different airlines. They all have their own internal cost structure to deal with and we are probably not privy to that information, along with the slight differences between seat class and other amenities.
 

niemi24s

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The fares referred to in my previous post were all Amtraks own fares, from the beginning of Amtrak in 1971. Unfortunately there is a rather large gap of 23 years in available fares as shown below:
EB Fare History.jpg
Just can't seem to come up with any reason for the $40 drop in Coach fare or the $15 drop in Roomette fare between 1980 and 2003. And those fares are all from published sample fares in System Timetables so I don't think they are sale prices. Maybe the introduction of the bucket system had something to do with it.
 

sttom

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My guess would be it having to do with deregulation. Amtrak was still subject to the ICC and their fare setting rules. I wouldn't be surprised if that oversight remained until railways were allowed to set their own rates during deregulation in the early 80s. Fares were set fairly high at one point. Even a round trip "Tourist" fare between Oakland and Chicago in the late 1930s would cost the equivalent of $1,600 after inflation. From a brief skimming of the Staggers Act, it doesn't specifically exclude Amtrak from it.
 

niemi24s

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Sounds like a very good guess to me! Never thought about the effects of gummint regulation and it's subsequent relaxation.

Thanks!
 

niemi24s

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The subject of partial routes came up in another part of this forum and I opined there may be several thousand of them (just as a WAG). Got curious to see how close my WAG was to reality and came up with this:Partial LD Routesc.jpg
I guess 7,288 qualifies as several thousand.
 

niemi24s

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Had previously posted a bucket chart showing lowest fares from end points to the highest ridership intermediate station. Here's one to the second highest ridership stations:
Part Route #2 rider Bkts.jpg
Sleeper fares for an additional adult/youth can be found by adding the Coach fare followed by the > symbol. Fares in square brackets are estimates.
 

niemi24s

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Thanks for the kind words. Have another one in the works that'll feature some loop trips made up of two or three different trains and maybe a few end points to junctions (or between two junctions) with other trains that haven't already been posted.

BTW, for estimates on the three sleeper buckets not shown, simply add the difference between the two that are shown. It's not perfect, but should be fairly close. This is one reason only the two lowest buckets are shown - plus the lowest bucket is of primary interest.
 

neroden

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The problem with the fare buckets is there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for them other than "we can charge this".
Well, "we can charge this" is the actual official reason for the bucket system. If the bucket system started not fulfilling that requirement -- raising prices high enough that it prevents seats from being filled -- why, then that would be an oddity which might require congressional investigation of management. But if "we can charge this" is still true, then it is doing exactly what it is supposed to...
 

neroden

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Had previously posted a bucket chart showing lowest fares from end points to the highest ridership intermediate station. Here's one to the second highest ridership stations:
View attachment 20822
Sleeper fares for an additional adult/youth can be found by adding the Coach fare followed by the > symbol. Fares in square brackets are estimates.
Thanks. As you know, I *am* always taking CHI-SYR and SYR-NYP, so it's quite relevant for me!
 

niemi24s

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FYI, here are links to both the pre-Covid (daily) and the current Amtrak timetables:

• Daily pre-Covid (7x): Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes
• Covid (3x): Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes

If the Amtrak homepage appears, click on the back arrow. And here's the current 3X a week departure dates for the trains and when daily service is supposed to be restored:
Covid Post Covid Departures.jpg
Couldn't get the bottom part any clearer for some reason
 
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niemi24s

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This partial update shows those one adult sleeper fares now offered on NER 66 and 67. As only three in each category could be found there's no way of knowing if any additional fares are loaded into Arrow.


34 - 27 Apr 2021 Amtrak Fare Buckets.jpg
 

Barb Stout

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Had previously posted a bucket chart showing lowest fares from end points to the highest ridership intermediate station. Here's one to the second highest ridership stations:
View attachment 20822
Sleeper fares for an additional adult/youth can be found by adding the Coach fare followed by the > symbol. Fares in square brackets are estimates.
My sister and I are tentatively planning a circle trip in late December, undoubtedly non-low bucket times. The lowest cost sleeper (roomette) I can find (thus far) going from ABQ to Chi (1 adult and 1 senior) is $1078. I can't quite determine from this chart which bucket that cost would fall into. I'm thinking we should forget about getting a sleeper during that season and instead get a rail pass and add another segment or 2 into our circle trip. Would anyone else care to venture a guess which bucket $1078 for a roomette would be?
 

Bob Dylan

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My sister and I are tentatively planning a circle trip in late December, undoubtedly non-low bucket times. The lowest cost sleeper (roomette) I can find (thus far) going from ABQ to Chi (1 adult and 1 senior) is $1078. I can't quite determine from this chart which bucket that cost would fall into. I'm thinking we should forget about getting a sleeper during that season and instead get a rail pass and add another segment or 2 into our circle trip. Would anyone else care to venture a guess which bucket $1078 for a roomette would be?
Looking @ niemi24s Updated Bucket List above your Post, I d say that's the Highest Bucket since LAX-CHI Highest Bucket is $1185 and the SWC is a Popular Route.
 

willem

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Would anyone else care to venture a guess which bucket $1078 for a roomette would be?
ABQ to CHI does not appear on the chart; it is only for end-to-end. Also, it is for one adult traveler. (niemi24s, please correct me if I'm mistaken.)

One approach would be to make a fake reservation from LAX to CHI for one adult and note the bucket. (The departure from LAX should be the day before the departure from ABQ, so that it is the same train.) Unfortunately, this is not foolproof, since the LAX-CHI reservation might be a different bucket than the ABQ-CHI reservation.

Another approach would be to make a fake reservation from ABQ to CHI for one adult, then multiply it by the number of miles LAX-CHI and divide by the number of miles ABQ-CHI and compare it to the chart. Unfortunately, there is no assurance that the price varies linearly with distance. (To the contrary, there have been assurances that it does not.)

Having said all that, I will agree with Bob Dylan about it being high bucket. I reach this conclusion by subtracting a guess at the senior rail fare (say $210) from $1078, then increasing that number to compare it to an end-to-end number, and I get something off the chart.

However, all this focus on bucket seems beside the fact. If I want to take a trip, I decide if I'm willing to pay what Amtrak asks. If yes, I make a reservation. If no, I make other travel plans. I like a "good deal" more than the next person, but I won't take a trip just because I can get a good deal and I won't cancel a trip because I cannot. Sometimes I have traveled earlier or later (thank you, PaulM, for Amsnag while it lasted), but that was based on dollar amounts without a focus on bucket.
 

Barb Stout

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ABQ to CHI does not appear on the chart; it is only for end-to-end. Also, it is for one adult traveler. (niemi24s, please correct me if I'm mistaken.)
I had replied to niemi24s's post where s/he had added the 2nd highest ridership station pair for each train. The 2nd highest for the SWC is ABQ/Chi. However, now when I click on the attachment on that post that I replied to, it displayed niemi24s' original end-to-end information. So I don't get it, but thanks for your comments.
 

niemi24s

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My sister and I are tentatively planning a circle trip in late December, undoubtedly non-low bucket times. The lowest cost sleeper (roomette) I can find (thus far) going from ABQ to Chi (1 adult and 1 senior) is $1078. I can't quite determine from this chart which bucket that cost would fall into. I'm thinking we should forget about getting a sleeper during that season and instead get a rail pass and add another segment or 2 into our circle trip. Would anyone else care to venture a guess which bucket $1078 for a roomette would be?
Sorry this reply took so long, but here's a two part answer.

• An estimate of which bucket your $1078 fare might be can be found by:
_ deducting the single Senior discounted rail fare from $1078 to find the fare for one Adult in a Roomette
_ which is 0.9 X (Coach Fare With The > Symbol)
_ which is 0.9 X $193 = $173.70
_ so the 1 Adult fare would be about $1078 - $174 = $904
_ but the chart in Post #38 only shows the two lowest Roomette buckets of $485 and $591
_ so the three other higher buckets can be estimated by adding the difference between those two buckets of $106 to $591 three times giving the five buckets of $485, 591, 697, 803 and 909.
_ The previous estimate (two steps above) was $904 and is closest to the estimated high bucket of $909, so your $1078 fare is for a high bucket Roomette.

• The actual high bucket Roomette fare for one Adult on the SWC between ABQ and CHI can be found from Arrow which shows $904 for tomorrow which is only 0.6% from the estimate. Close enough for me.

BTW, a low bucket Roomette for the two of you would be $485 (from the chart) + 0.9 X $193> = 485 + 173.70 = $658.70

This estimation method will work for any of the trips where only the two lowest buckets are given because the upcharges for the sleepers go in an arithmetic progression (with a fairly constant difference between successive buckets). And while Coach fares go in a roughly geometric progression, the same Coach fare (the one followed by the > symbol) is part of the total fare shown in the chart so the total fares for each sleeper remain in an arithmetic progression.
 
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