No more printed system timetables

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rtabern

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Sad to hear Amtrak had decided not to publish national timetables anymore. Egh, I never really used them all that much... but was able to collect the complete collection since the first one... including the rare one that only a few thousand of were printed in the mid-1980's. I had a few folks mention the complete collection I have could be worth as much as $2000-3000.

April 20, 2016

For several years we have simultaneously produced the Amtrak System Timetable in printed form and as an electronic downloadable document housed on Amtrak.com. The decision has been made to discontinue production of the printed Amtrak System Timetable effective immediately. The final printed timetable is the January 2016 Winter/Spring version recently printed.
The reasons for this decision are:
...•Usage and demand for the printed document have steadily declined over the past five years.
•Surveys have revealed that few customers want or use the printed System Timetable and expressed a preference to access information on line.
•Schedules, policies and programs are ever changing and it’s impossible to keep the printed document accurate and up-to-date.
•Reducing print is financially responsible
•Reducing print is environmentally responsible
•All Amtrak timetables, including the System Timetable are housed within and may be accessed on Amtrak.com.
•At this time many of the smaller individual route and corridor wallet cards and panels will continue to be printed.
 

KnightRail

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Apr 24, 2015
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National timetables will still be created and posted online as .pdf files as they are now. If a paper copy is desired, one can print at home or place the .pdf on a USB thumb drive and take it down to Staples copy and print center or a local print shop and have it printed. This change is long overdue. It's time that limited financial resources go to things like actually operating trains and not pet obsessions such as archaic printed system timetables.
 

OlympianHiawatha

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Take good care of that collection-you have a National Treasure as they say on that PBS appraisal show. A friend of mine in Dallas has put together one of the world's leading collection of Airline Timetables and is terrified to think what that might be worth! I consider myself lucky for when I was a younglin I regularly went around to the travel agencies in Arlington Heights, IL and gathered up timetables and salted them away. Unfortunately when I went off to college and the folks closed the house, many were disposed of, but many still survive in my collection :)

I only wish I could have gotten some of the floor standing display models!
 

ScouseAndy

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•At this time many of the smaller individual route and corridor wallet cards and panels will continue to be printed.
Any I correct when I read this as meaning that some of the individual route timetables ​wont be printed either? And in 6 months -12 months time none of them will be unlikely passengers kick up an almighty fuss at their withdrawal?
 

SanDiegan

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It's a PITA to have to download a bunch of individual TT's to plan a trip. Impossible with the spotty cell and WiFi service on-board. I always carry a National TT in my backpack on train trips. Amtrak is not an airline with all point-to-point trips. The National TT is a marketing tool. Most people, especially on the NEC and other corridors, don't even know the long-distance trains exist. Maybe that's the goal ?
 
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KnightRail

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It's a PITA to have to download a bunch of individual TT's to plan a trip. Impossible with the spotty cell and WiFi service on-board. I always carry a National TT in my backpack on train trips. Amtrak is not an airline with all point-to-point trips. The National TT is a marketing tool. Most people, especially on the NEC and other corridors, don't even know the long-distance trains exist. Maybe that's the goal ?
It's an even greater PITA to read info in a printed timetable, and then come to find out it is old, stale, and now false information. A printed timetable is not dynamic, it doesn't update to reflect constant change. It doesn't show policy changes, and especially schedule changes and trackwork modifications. Nor does it show availability. There is a long list of changes in the "current" printed timetable that are now not current at all. The student discount program has changed, stations that were staffed now are not staffed, schedule changes, and more.
 

CCC1007

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It's a PITA to have to download a bunch of individual TT's to plan a trip. Impossible with the spotty cell and WiFi service on-board. I always carry a National TT in my backpack on train trips. Amtrak is not an airline with all point-to-point trips. The National TT is a marketing tool. Most people, especially on the NEC and other corridors, don't even know the long-distance trains exist. Maybe that's the goal ?
They will still be making the national timetable, though the distribution method will be digital only. If you want it, download it to your device and have it at hand when you need it.
 

Devil's Advocate

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It's a PITA to have to download a bunch of individual TT's to plan a trip. Impossible with the spotty cell and WiFi service on-board. I always carry a National TT in my backpack on train trips. Amtrak is not an airline with all point-to-point trips. The National TT is a marketing tool. Most people, especially on the NEC and other corridors, don't even know the long-distance trains exist. Maybe that's the goal ?
It's an even greater PITA to read info in a printed timetable, and then come to find out it is old, stale, and now false information. A printed timetable is not dynamic, it doesn't update to reflect constant change. It doesn't show policy changes, and especially schedule changes and trackwork modifications. Nor does it show availability. There is a long list of changes in the "current" printed timetable that are now not current at all. The student discount program has changed, stations that were staffed now are not staffed, schedule changes, and more.
*LIKE*
 

A Voice

OBS Chief
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It's a PITA to have to download a bunch of individual TT's to plan a trip. Impossible with the spotty cell and WiFi service on-board. I always carry a National TT in my backpack on train trips. Amtrak is not an airline with all point-to-point trips. The National TT is a marketing tool. Most people, especially on the NEC and other corridors, don't even know the long-distance trains exist. Maybe that's the goal ?
They will still be making the national timetable, though the distribution method will be digital only. If you want it, download it to your device and have it at hand when you need it.
Doing so requires a digital device, however, and isn't nearly so convenient or accessible as a printed copy. As SanDiagan points out, the printed national timetable is a marketing tool which cannot be matched by digital content; There is an intangible benefit to passengers browsing the timetable looking at all the trips they might take. You don't get that by just looking up the one timetable you need on your laptop.

Magazines and newspapers are also available by digital delivery, but people still buy the printed copy (often for a higher price) for reasons similar to why people would prefer a printed timetable (and perhaps particularly true for more senior passengers). Sometimes I almost think ill-advised decisions like this are made by a 25 year old intern who thinks everybody has a smart phone.
 
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fairviewroad

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Of course there's an intangible benefit to a printed timetable. But the money used to produce those can also be used for other items that have intangible benefits, too. At a certain point it is simply a judgement call as to the best way to spend the money. Obviously not everyone agrees with the decision to get rid of the printed timetable.

Just out of curiosity...does anyone have an actual source for this announcement? While it certainly sounds plausible, the OP does not cite a source. Neither does the poster over on Trainorders. There's no news release about it, and neither is there anything listed on the Service Advisory page.

I assume this is from some sort of internal communique but I would be curious as to its origin. There have been rumors of this sort of thing in the past.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Of course there's an intangible benefit to a printed timetable. But the money used to produce those can also be used for other items that have intangible benefits, too. At a certain point it is simply a judgement call as to the best way to spend the money. Obviously not everyone agrees with the decision to get rid of the printed timetable.

Just out of curiosity...does anyone have an actual source for this announcement? While it certainly sounds plausible, the OP does not cite a source. Neither does the poster over on Trainorders. There's no news release about it, and neither is there anything listed on the Service Advisory page.

I assume this is from some sort of internal communique but I would be curious as to its origin. There have been rumors of this sort of thing in the past.
Well, on Sunday, there were only about 3-5 of them at my station (WIL). Today there were a lot more. Maybe they know that people will be coming to snatch them up. I did grab a 2nd one because the one I got on Sunday I'm giving to my sister and I figure I may not get it back.
 

afigg

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Suggestion to the moderators: that the title of this thread be changed to "No more printed system timetables" for clarity as the route and corridor timetables will apparently continue to be printed.

Just out of curiosity...does anyone have an actual source for this announcement? While it certainly sounds plausible, the OP does not cite a source. Neither does the poster over on Trainorders. There's no news release about it, and neither is there anything listed on the Service Advisory page.

I assume this is from some sort of internal communique but I would be curious as to its origin. There have been rumors of this sort of thing in the past.
The April 20 statement has been quoted in several forums and so far no one who would be in the know has stated it is incorrect. Certainly appears to be an internal communication which makes sense as Amtrak is not going to issue a formal press release announcing they are dropping the printed version of the system timetable.

With all the cost cutting going on in the closing days of the Boardman era, this move does not surprise me. Ending the printed system timetable was going to happen eventually in the age of the internet, tablet computers, and smartphones. It is only a question of when it will take place. Appears that 2016 is the year. However, I would be interested to find out exactly how it cost to print the system timetable every 6 months as I figure this move will only directly save a small amount of money.
 

Bob Dylan

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I'm a Luddite that prefers printed materials but do have a Smart Phone ( it's the operator that's dumb!) and usedto have a PC till it died!

I'll miss the National Timetable also but understand that practical matters require Amtrak to try to cut waste wherever they can. As was said the amount of money that is actually saved is pocket change in the total budget,! ( cutting a few executives @ 60 Mass would save alot more!)
 

me_little_me

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Of course there's an intangible benefit to a printed timetable. But the money used to produce those can also be used for other items that have intangible benefits, too. At a certain point it is simply a judgement call as to the best way to spend the money. Obviously not everyone agrees with the decision to get rid of the printed timetable.
Unfortunately, there is no money to produce it. It's not like Amtrak is a profit-making or even a break-even operation. It loses money so every item deleted, whether timetables or meals or ... go to reducing the loss to satisfy congress that Amtrak is not just an organization of wastrels.

Alas, more of this is in the future.
 

SanDiegan

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Just for the record, I am tech savvy and have a lot of "devices." Still prefer the printed National Timetable for planning trips, or when traveling. It has everything I need in one place. I can see changes and updates on my phone, if necessary. The amount of money saved is probably equal to one useless employee in Washington. Pretty cheap marketing.
 

Hal

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Just out of curiosity...does anyone have an actual source for this announcement? While it certainly sounds plausible, the OP does not cite a source. Neither does the poster over on Trainorders. There's no news release about it, and neither is there anything listed on the Service Advisory page.

I assume this is from some sort of internal communique but I would be curious as to its origin. There have been rumors of this sort of thing in the past.
It is true.
 

OBS

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As HAL said; A notice was issued yesterday to employees, which was pretty verbatim to the OP message.
 

Dakota 400

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Disappointing to know that hard copies are not going to be available. I am one who also finds such to be valuable in planning future trips.

Carnival Cruise Lines seems also to have done away with hard copy brochures. I would like to consider another Carnival cruise, but, given their web site's difficulty in "playing nice" with my computer, I cannot do much searching.

Is this Amtrak's future for me as well?
 

Devil's Advocate

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If you want a hard copy then by all means print one out yourself. If you don't have a computer or printer then go to Kinkos or another equivalent service. Expecting Amtrak to print these items for free makes no sense in the Mica/Shuster era.
 

Alexandria Nick

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Sometimes I almost think ill-advised decisions like this are made by a 25 year old intern who thinks everybody has a smart phone.
On the contrary: the mandate to shift away from printed material to electronic distribution for government agencies predates the smartphone itself. The original GAO recommendation dates to 2001. At the agency I do tech editing and graphic design, we've functionally eliminated printed versions of our office's publications. Five years ago, we printed hundreds of copies of the budget. This year, I think we printed 30.

In fact, we've even stopped designing for print. We worry more about whether or not something will be too difficult to make 508 compliant than how it will print. As far as we're concerned, the end product is a PDF. I've started submitting more and more designs that are landscape oriented because they fit on monitors better than the traditional portrait/print marriage.
 
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niemi24s

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I can't think of a better way to introduce Amtrak to someone who's not too savvy with the internet (or not even online) than to order a copy of the System Timetable for delivery to their door. Have done it several times. It's a shame to see that that option eliminated. Anyone with the notion that all are online has their head in the sand.
 

Devil's Advocate

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And the reason you can't print the online copy yourself to show them is...?

If Amtrak was preventing you from printing your own copy I could understand the blowback. But that's not the case at all. Who besides Amtrak was still printing their full network schedule in 2016?
 

Cina

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Also, your local library has computers. And most likely printers.
 

JayPea

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Even though I am one of those who is still having a hard time adjusting to this 21st century thing ;) I found that on my last Amtrak trip a month ago it was much easier to download the timetables for each route onto my phone and consult those rather than leaf through pages of the timetable or keep track of the individual route timetables. I have two more trips coming up in the future and I have downloaded the timetable for each route I will be taking as well as the complete timetable. As others have pointed out one can always print out online copies if they don't own a smartphone or want to lug a laptop or tablet around.
 
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NW cannonball

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I'm thinking about the "off-grid" ridership. And hoping (and expecting they will find or already have a work-around)

There's usually one or two Amish families on the EB, for example, and they don't do smartphones, or PC's or any phones at all, mostly. And sure don't respond to on-line surveys :)
 
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