Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets)

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
967
Location
Albuquerque, NM
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.
Thanks very much for the math and "showing your work"! : )
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
You're welcome. I always like to show the work so others can see how to do it (and maybe point out any errors).

Seems better than just saying "Your $1078 is high bucket."
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 6, 2021
Messages
8
Location
Charlottesville, VA
I am an absolutely rank, newbie and not particularly tech savvy. What is a bucket? I see many references and am trying to find the most cost effective way to do the Chicago to West Cost trip overnight, an a bedroom next October. Can someone direct me to an easy to understand explanation of “bucket?” Thank you
 

Qapla

Engineer
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
2,206
Location
Gator Country Florida
The "bucket" is a term that is applied to the various pricing amounts of a given room/fare

The same fare/room cost is divided into progressive pricing steps like this (being generic I will not use actual fares)

  1. $
  2. $$
  3. $$$
  4. $$$$
  5. $$$$$
Each of these price points is called a bucket. So, the cheapest fare ($) is the lowest "bucket" and the most expensive price ($$$$$) is called the high "bucket"

For each fare/sleeper on each route there is a set of prices divided into "buckets" that Amtrak sets the current cost to depending on whatever method Amtrak is currently using to set the "bucket" price to when they release a ticket for sale.

I hope this helps.
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
A "bucket" is nothing more than a fare or ticket price. Coach has 6 possible buckets/fares and the sleepers each have 5 possible buckets/fares. Each of these remains a fixed value for some period of time ranging from a few months to as much as a year.

Amtraks computer (Arrow) decides which bucket to offer for sale on any day and can change what's offered from day to day. F'rinstance, here are the current buckets/fares for the whole route of the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle...
EB Fares Aug 2021.jpg
...listed in the order to Coach, Roomette, Family Bedroom and Bedroom. You might find that a Roomette fare is offered at $651 when you do a trial booking today for some future date. Then tomorrow you might find the fare has gone up to $767 for travel on that same future date in a Roomette.

In short, bucket is nothing more than high-falootin' term for ticket cost or fare - just part of the jargon of this forum. I call it gobbledegook!
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,056
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Doesn't the price of a particular accommodation change dynamically as they are sold? When the booking page says, "1 available at this fare," doesn't that mean there may be more available at a higher fare?

So the reason for calling them buckets would be that there are x tickets available in bucket 1, and y tickets in bucket 2, etc. When bucket 1 is empty, your ticket comes out of bucket 2 at the higher fare.

I realize, of course, that the allocation of fares into buckets is changed from time to time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
Excellent explanation of why they're called buckets!

Doesn't seem so much like gobbledegook now. Thanks.
 

Railspike

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Messages
51
Location
Houston
Excellent explanation of why they're called buckets!

Doesn't seem so much like gobbledegook now. Thanks.
I just ran the entire month of January EMY-CHI on CZ for a bedroom High bucket $2261 and low bucket $1955. Low bucket was on only 8 days of the month.
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
While $2261 is indeed the High/Highest Bucket, $1955 is not low bucket. It's just the lowest one you found. The Low/Lowest Bucket is actually $1039.

Current Bedroom buckets for the CZ are $1039, [1345 estimated], 1650, 1955 and 2261.
 

Railspike

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Messages
51
Location
Houston
While $2261 is indeed the High/Highest Bucket, $1955 is not low bucket. It's just the lowest one you found. The Low/Lowest Bucket is actually $1039.

Current Bedroom buckets for the CZ are $1039, [1345 estimated], 1650, 1955 and 2261.
Was the Low Bucket of $1039 for January?
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
Was the Low Bucket of $1039 for January?
I don't know. It was found some weeks or months ago and I've no recollection or record of the month I saw it offered. It might even have been offered in January when I noticed it but the fare for that date subsequently rose.

Fares for a specific date sometimes increase, sometime decrease and sometimes stay the same.
 
Joined
May 24, 2021
Messages
2
Location
Norway
A "bucket" is nothing more than a fare or ticket price. Coach has 6 possible buckets/fares and the sleepers each have 5 possible buckets/fares. Each of these remains a fixed value for some period of time ranging from a few months to as much as a year.

Amtraks computer (Arrow) decides which bucket to offer for sale on any day and can change what's offered from day to day. F'rinstance, here are the current buckets/fares for the whole route of the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle...
View attachment 24185
...listed in the order to Coach, Roomette, Family Bedroom and Bedroom. You might find that a Roomette fare is offered at $651 when you do a trial booking today for some future date. Then tomorrow you might find the fare has gone up to $767 for travel on that same future date in a Roomette.

In short, bucket is nothing more than high-falootin' term for ticket cost or fare - just part of the jargon of this forum. I call it gobbledegook!
Thanx for sharing. Do you also know the current buckets for CZ (roomette)?
 

Railspike

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Messages
51
Location
Houston
I don't know. It was found some weeks or months ago and I've no recollection or record of the month I saw it offered. It might even have been offered in January when I noticed it but the fare for that date subsequently rose.

Fares for a specific date sometimes increase, sometime decrease and sometimes stay the same.
I cannot speak to Buckets for previous months. I only know I ran January 2022 CZ EMY-CHI for a bedroom and every day was either $2261 or $1955. No other prices were offered.
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
Do you also know the current buckets for CZ (roomette)?
Same as shown on the chart in Post #44 of this thread. Same goes for Coach. The Bedroom and Family Bedroom buckets have risen twice on all LD trains since that chart was posted. In addition, Roomette prices have also risen on the Auto Train.
 
Last edited:

Railspike

Train Attendant
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Messages
51
Location
Houston
Is there a pattern that over time, the price might come down on a given day? Or is it the opposite?
The new pricing system is baffling.
 

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
No pattern that I'm aware of.

Others here in their profound wisdom assert the lowest fares can be found on certain days of the week, in between certain holidays, during a month that's X months in the future or some other rule of thumb.

I'm of the opinion the pattern is as if fares for each sleeper are selected on a daily basis by curious monkeys set loose in a roomful of eighty two jars, one jar for each sleeper on each train in each direction. The five pre-determined fares for each sleeper are printed on cards (sized and shaped so that no more than one can be withdrawn) placed in the jars:

• If a card with a different fare is withdrawn, that then becomes the fare du jour for the next day.

• If no card (or a card with the same fare as the current fare) is withdrawn the fare remains the same

Of course, that's not how fares are actually chosen. But it's the best analogy I've come up with - and just as meaningful to me as yield management.
 
Last edited:

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,369
Location
Washington State
Is there a pattern that over time, the price might come down on a given day? Or is it the opposite?
The new pricing system is baffling.
It's not new. Amtrak has been doing yield management for many years.

In theory Amtrak will track demand and adjust the allocation of inventory across the five buckets as demand materializes or doesn't materialize. Although Niemi24s' monkey theory makes as much sense as anything in real world terms.

They do seem to have become quite a bit more aggressive in initial inventory allocation post-pandemic than they had been. That is an impression, not a statement of fact, btw.

They can adjust the inventory allocation at any time.

The only answer is to be aware of what the bucket values are, which Niemi24s makes easier with his invaluable charts, be a bit flexible with actual travel dates within a travel window, and keep checking. And pounce on lower buckets for a trip when they appear.
 
Last edited:

niemi24s

Engineer
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,773
As I understand it, AmSnag's demise was the result of Amtrak doing something with their software that makes it impossible for outsiders to scrape or mine fare data from Arrow - the Amtrak computer system.

Nothing at all to do with daily/non-daily service - I think.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,369
Location
Washington State
Any word on whether Amsnag is coming back now that daily LD service is restored, or was that not the reason it ended?
Amtrak changed its website in ways that made the HTML parsing technique Amsnag was based on not work any longer.

Amtrak basically modernized their presentation layer, although they didn't do a terrific job. The issue really was not the reduction in train frequency, Amsnag always handled the Sunset and Cardinal just fine. It was the change in technological approach Amtrak used in their UIs that doomed Amsnag. That those changes were implemented at roughly the same time as the frequency reduction was coincidental, IMHO.

Unless Amtrak exposes public APIs that developers can leverage, it is doubtful it will come back. Hacking their current UI is certainly possible, but far more difficult and involved. That is not to imply creating and maintaining Amsnag was easy.

Their legacy core system, ARROW, is at least one layer away from their website, more if they are halfway competent (which is open to question).

Best hope is for Amtrak itself to create a way to get multiple days fare return like most airline websites have. They have said it is their intent.
 
Last edited:

Keith1951

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 29, 2021
Messages
48
Location
Ohio
Data on this chart gleaned from searches using AmSnag: http://biketrain.x10.mx/amsnag2.0/amSnag.php

View attachment 16979

MODERATOR NOTE: This chart was prepared by an AU member, who will update it periodically. If you have any questions or comments regarding the chart please post them in the Bucket Charts thread in the Amtrak Discussion forum. Bucket Chart?
Thanks.
Im trying to understand these bucket prices. I see all these charts folks are showing me about bucket pricing. Instead of looking at their old charts, how do I find bucket prices for the California Zephyr and where would I go to find them myself?
 

caravanman

Engineer
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
4,376
Location
Nottingham, England.
The charts are a handy way to see what range of fares are possible, cheapest= Low Bucket, most expensive = Highest Bucket.
The range of fares possible on any given train/route is not available from Amtrak, so folk have created the charts to offer an indication.
The only way to find out what is available, or the current bucket "spans" is to look it up yourself over a range of travel dates on Amtrak .com.
 

Keith1951

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 29, 2021
Messages
48
Location
Ohio
The charts are a handy way to see what range of fares are possible, cheapest= Low Bucket, most expensive = Highest Bucket.
The range of fares possible on any given train/route is not available from Amtrak, so folk have created the charts to offer an indication.
The only way to find out what is available, or the current bucket "spans" is to look it up yourself over a range of travel dates on Amtrak .com.
I appreciated that. That makes sense. So I need to make my own chart, and thanks to you I see now how to do it. Thx again.
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,056
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
I appreciated that. That makes sense. So I need to make my own chart, and thanks to you I see now how to do it. Thx again.
Use the existing charts as a starting point; otherwise you can't tell which bucket the fare you're looking at represents. If you see a fare that's between 2 buckets on the existing chart, it's probably replaced the lower of the 2 fares.

Note that the Amtrak website makes it very tedious, and you might not find all 5 buckets even after searching thru a month of fares.
 

JC_620

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 15, 2019
Messages
49
Location
Centerville
So, is there no rhyme or reason on how to find out what the low bucket fares actually are, or when they are going to be offered? IF they are going to be offered? It may have been mentioned previously and my apologies if it has but I thought that in years past, it was based on supply and demand: example: they have 5 bedrooms, priced low bucket to high bucket, and when low bucket sells then it goes to the next tier up and so on? It seems that now Amtrak is just going right for the kill and pricing everyone out even if you are planning months out ahead. So then this garbage about "book ahead" and "book early for the best fares" is just that, garbage. It might hold some truth to the coach fares, but not at all to the roommettes or bedrooms. You mileage may vary.
 
Top