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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.