One of my daughters just said (she will not be taking Amtrak for a long time)

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McLeansvilleAppFan

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Flix Bus, and Flix Train is a contract out service provider in Europe. Flix is a platform for booking only. They do have service levels required if you want to be there subcontractor. Not sure what they doing here in the USA, but the bus I saw the other day, was a newer double decker, in there the Flix Bus green color.
So they have branded buses but don't run the buses. Sounds like a way to get of of paying decent wages and offering benefits. Which is the very problem I have with that sort of operation. I would not be so anti-gig economy if there were other realistic ways of having health care and such. But here we are. They do seem to work out of the bus terminal that Greyhound uses and I assume rents/owns that is part of the intermodel depot in Greensboro that includes Amtrak and the hub of city transit. That is a step up from the bus lines that pick up at a street corner even when facilities exist in a city for something a bit safer out of the weather.
 

McLeansvilleAppFan

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Just curious - especially since I don't fly

I have read numerous comments about how rude some of the Amtrak employees are (I have not personally experienced that) so the question is, "are there never any rude employees encountered in flying?"
Personally I have never interacted with a rude Amtrak employee. Even when I was told to step back from the door it was done with a nice tone. Likely my threshold for rudeness out of an Amtrak employee is higher than other consumer facing workers.
 

20th Century Rider

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I'm definitely ok with the occasional service disruption which goes along with the concept of travel; because it's just a part of travel. Especially when the trend is towards improved customer service. The efforts being made by Amtrak recently are impressive; especially when customer service is willing to compensate for missed connections and provide alternative service. The recent bridge outage on the UP line is not Amtrak's fault... and Amtrak deserves credit and appreciation for offering refunds and alternatives to effected passengers.
 

Rasputin

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I'm definitely ok with the occasional service disruption which goes along with the concept of travel; because it's just a part of travel. Especially when the trend is towards improved customer service. The efforts being made by Amtrak recently are impressive; especially when customer service is willing to compensate for missed connections and provide alternative service. The recent bridge outage on the UP line is not Amtrak's fault... and Amtrak deserves credit and appreciation for offering refunds and alternatives to effected passengers.
I understand that Amtrak is not taking any reservations for the Coast Starlight even for those sections not affected by the bridge closure. I also understand that they are running full consists of the train on each side of the bus bridge. It is great that they are running the bus bridge and not cancelling everything outright but not taking reservations for sections not affected by the bridge closure seems to be a bit strange and not in the interest of promoting passenger rail service. If my understanding is incorrect, corrections would be welcome.
 

dlagrua

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Post Covid transportation has all been heaviy affected. Our flight to AZ was already cancelled and we were re-scheduled on an earlier flight. As for employees being rude; in life you will meet nice people and encounter rude people. Amtrak is no different than any other business. To be honest, by and large our experiences with the onboard staff have been very positive. If you treat them with courtesy and respect and they will almost always treat you likewise.
 

Rasputin

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Post Covid transportation has all been heaviy affected. Our flight to AZ was already cancelled and we were re-scheduled on an earlier flight. As for employees being rude; in life you will meet nice people and encounter rude people. Amtrak is no different than any other business. To be honest, by and large our experiences with the onboard staff have been very positive. If you treat them with courtesy and respect and they will almost always treat you likewise.
The problem with Amtrak as I see it is that there is no immediate supervision. No one is in charge.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Just curious - especially since I don't fly I have read numerous comments about how rude some of the Amtrak employees are (I have not personally experienced that) so the question is, "are there never any rude employees encountered in flying?"
Rude airline employees? Yes, of course. Amtrak level obnoxiousness? Rarely. For instance I've never had airline staff simply lock a functioning lavatory instead of clean it or refuse get me a cup of ice like on Amtrak. It's amazing to me that airline staff do a better job without tips than Amtrak staff do with tips.
 
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jebr

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Does WAS lack switchers and power connections?
If they're there, I didn't experience them being used on my last trip through DC (from VA to BWI.) The train quickly starts feeling stuffy when they do the power change, even when everything goes right and the engine switch only takes 5-10 minutes. I wouldn't want to be on a train where that power (particularly AC) was missing for much longer than that, particularly in the summer when DC is usually hot and humid.

For me, the biggest issue with Amtrak when things go wrong, above and beyond the fact that things seem to go at least a little bit wrong more often (percentage-wise, anyways) on Amtrak versus the airlines or even bus, is that a lot of times when the failures happen they become particularly bad quickly. At an airport, if my flight is delayed while I'm in the terminal I have functioning A/C and power outlets, I have food and restroom options readily accessible, and if it's a long delay I might even be able to head into an airport lounge. Even on my flight which had a long delay on the tarmac, the A/C kept working and we were given pretty regular updates on the status of our delay. Some airlines (I've seen it on Delta and United) also allow free rebooking on their app once the delay hits 30 minutes or an hour, so if the delay starts getting extremely long I can self-change to a different itinerary that may get me moving more quickly.

On Amtrak, I've had multiple times where there's been pretty egregious issues with the on-board experience, particularly in the sleepers (a trip a few years ago had a failed A/C in our sleeper car when it was 90 and humid outside, and another one just a couple weeks ago had a sewage smell in many of the rooms when someone went to use the bathroom.) There's not much that they can do once the train has left the station, so it becomes a bit of a grin-and-bear-it experience. Plus, as noted in the OP's post, Amtrak doesn't seem to account for the fact that people might want comfort when there's an engine change, so even a small delay with that process becomes unpleasant fast. There's also the simple fact that, if there's a long delay, you're basically stuck with whatever the café car has (or, if in a sleeper, whatever the diner hasn't run out of) which is typically below the quality of even the airport McDonald's.
 

jis

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Rude airline employees? Yes, of course. Amtrak level obnoxiousness? Rarely. For instance I've never had airline staff simply lock a functioning lavatory instead of clean it or refuse get me a cup of ice like on Amtrak. It's amazing to me that airline staff do a better job without tips than Amtrak staff do with tips.
I wonder if the mere existence of a designated Purser on each flight makes a bit of difference. As has been pointed out the line of responsibility for passenger comfort among the various train personnel is not as clear cut It potentially depends a lot on to what extent the Conductor is willing to play the role which they are not necessarily required to fulfill by their job description, beyond safety and security as far as I can tell.

In my experience, even at airlines with not sterling reputation, handling of customer complaints appears to be more streamlined than at Amtrak, though there have been cases where Amtrak has been exemplary too. But often that is an individual initiative thing rather than a systemic thing.
 

me_little_me

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Just curious - especially since I don't fly

I have read numerous comments about how rude some of the Amtrak employees are (I have not personally experienced that) so the question is, "are there never any rude employees encountered in flying?"
I've encountered some rude employees but the airlines apparently have much stricter standards as to what flight attendants are supposed to do and they must enforce them. That's where Amtrak falls down. There is no boss on board who enforces standards so Amtrak's written ones are violated any time a bad attendant wants to and there is apparently no penalty for doing so.
 

Exvalley

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United has a direct flight for about 200 dollars
And this is from Dulles, which is hardly convenient to downtown Washington, DC.

I have read numerous comments about how rude some of the Amtrak employees are (I have not personally experienced that) so the question is, "are there never any rude employees encountered in flying?"
The better is question is, which form of transportation has the higher percentage of surly and rude employees?

Generally speaking, I would say that Amtrak employees are not better than airline employees.
 

McLeansvilleAppFan

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Rude airline employees? Yes, of course. Amtrak level obnoxiousness? Rarely. For instance I've never had airline staff simply lock a functioning lavatory instead of clean it or refuse get me a cup of ice like on Amtrak. It's amazing to me that airline staff do a better job without tips than Amtrak staff do with tips.
Maybe the pay of the airline employees is such they are not as stressed since they are not having to grovel for tips.
 

Qapla

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There's not much that they can do once the train has left the station, so it becomes a bit of a grin-and-bear-it experience.
...
There's also the simple fact that, if there's a long delay, you're basically stuck with whatever the café car has (or, if in a sleeper, whatever the diner hasn't run out of) which is typically below the quality of even the airport McDonald's.
At least, once the train leaves the station it can stop without disastrous results - after a plane leaves the airport it cannot stop mid-flight and just sit there or take a siding. I think I would rather endure temperature discomfort and food below the quality McDonald's then fall several thousand feet to a sudden stop.
 
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jis

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At least, once the train leaves the station it can stop without disastrous results - after a plane leaves the airport it cannot stop mid-flight and just sit there or take a siding. I think I would rather endure temperature discomfort and food below the quality McDonald's then fall several thousand feet to a sudden stop.
Good for you. Keeps an extra seat open for our use in the air :D
 

AmtrakBlue

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At least, once the train leaves the station it can stop without disastrous results - after a plane leaves the airport it cannot stop mid-flight and just sit there or take a siding. I think I would rather endure temperature discomfort and food below the quality McDonald's then fall several thousand feet to a sudden stop.
How many thousands of planes are in the air right now as we speak? How many have fallen from the sky? If it's your time to go, it will happen, be it in the air or on the ground - or even in your bed.


5,400 aircraft in the sky at peak operational times.
 

Nick Farr

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I've encountered some rude employees but the airlines apparently have much stricter standards as to what flight attendants are supposed to do and they must enforce them. That's where Amtrak falls down. There is no boss on board who enforces standards so Amtrak's written ones are violated any time a bad attendant wants to and there is apparently no penalty for doing so.
This is precisely the issue.

Airlines have tighter supervision and more established management chains. Flight crews generally return to their base within 24-48 hours where managers can address issues. Airplane captains also take much greater ownership of what happens on their planes, and they're there for the entire flight. Pursers also keep flight attendants on task and enforce a customer service culture. There are very well established written policies for flight service everyone knows.

In theory, the conductor on a train is the "boss" but dealing with customer service issues is not a priority for them. Conductor crews also switch off so frequently and don't have much if any contact with OBS management so OBS do generally ignore them if they try to enforce what unclear standards there are. Bad service is not corrected, documented or noted on the trains like they are on planes.

OBS service culture seems to emerge from the worst kind of Union management where seniority takes precedence over everything, there are no immediate consequences for doing a bad job and those who play the system the best win. There are no rewards on Amtrak for good OBS service other than possibly tips.

Absent a clear incentive for good service and a lack of consequences for bad service, what do you think will happen?
 

me_little_me

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standards there are. Bad service is not corrected, documented or noted on the trains like they are on planes.

OBS service culture seems to emerge from the worst kind of Union management where seniority takes precedence over everything, there are no immediate consequences for doing a bad job and those who play the system the best win. There are no rewards on Amtrak for good OBS service other than possibly tips.

Absent a clear incentive for good service and a lack of consequences for bad service, what do you think will happen?
Union management? No, the unions are not responsible for employee management. The managers are and they have lots of ways to enforce standards.

It begins with documenting problem behavior. To do that, the manager needs to witness it or talk to the complainant about the issue and also get the employee's side. That can't happen at Amtrak because there is no manager who's primary job is to insure standards are followed on the train nor does Amtrak follow up with complainants about issues. The complainants are simply bought off with a voucher.

Once there is a pattern of bad behavior, the manager can then sit down with the employee and do counseling and corrective action. If that fails, then the employee can be terminated.

The union is there to protect the employee's rights to fair treatment although they sometimes go overboard even when they know an employee is in the wrong. In non-union environments, employees often serve at-will so they may get fired or punished even if they were in the right just because of a complaint, justified or not. That's one reason employees want unions - to protect their rights.

When managers are too lazy to go through the process or don't care about what's happening, with or without unions, then employees pick up on the fact that there is no benefit (other than their own morality) to doing what is right and know that it is a waste of time to themselves complain about other employees. This is the situation that Amtrak is in. Good employees generally get more tips because of their good service but bad employees don't suffer so much because they know that people will tip anyway and the extra income may not be as important as the feeling of power over others.
 

neroden

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One problem is that Amtrak doesn't even have managers on the trains to oversee OBS. Shortsighted, thoughtless cuts at some point.

Amtrak has also never put enough management in to oversee the problems at Chicago Mechanical; I suspect that the bad employees there who fill out forms claiming they've repaired cars when they didn't do any work, know they can outwait any manager who attempts to write them up, since the managers get replaced or their jobs changed too often.
 

Nick Farr

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Union management? No, the unions are not responsible for employee management.
They are responsible for the contract that sets the structure by which employees are managed, disciplined, etc.

TWU values seniority over service and as such sets the tone and culture by which old staff who play the grievance system are the example and those who try to do right by the passenger are the exception. They bargain primarily for more money and rules that work in the interests of preserving the Union.

AFA, on the other hand, is a union focused on enhancing the profession of being a Flight Attendant. Yes, they fight for better wages and working conditions...but a lot of those are safety focused as part of the air travel experience. They partner with the airlines to keep air travel safe for their members and the customers they serve.
 
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Rodd

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I have no idea of what is available myself, though it is a great question. My gut was telling me there was not a lot of flights from Richmond to DC, but there may be more than I realize. I never looked. I know the drive is about 2 hours according to Google maps, which always surprises me as I always think it is closer than that distance. I am in Greensboro and we are an hour from Raleigh and 90 minutes from Charlotte driving. I always feel like Richmond to DC is like 45 minutes. Obviously I am not driving in that part of the country very often as that is not reality.

In the case of my daughter, she is in grad school in Richomd and wanted to use the time there and back for some school work and her car is old and high mileage. I personally did not want her driving the hell that can be I-95 in that area. I am not sure what her other options were. Personally I would be OK with her taking Greyhound. I would not be as happy with her taking the non-union bus lines that likely travel in that area.
I live in DC. No air travel between the two cities. Only PIT (Private Air Travel). Richmond can be two hours away or 6 via car, depending on traffic on 95 going down there from DC.
 

McLeansvilleAppFan

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I live in DC. No air travel between the two cities. Only PIT (Private Air Travel). Richmond can be two hours away or 6 via car, depending on traffic on 95 going down there from DC.
That is what I was thinking. It is surprising that propeller type planes don't fly between the two cities, especially given the way I-95 works (or doesn't work).

Greensboro to Charlotte is closer and I-85 is not the mess of I-95 either and there are multiple flights a day.

I am not complaining since this helps Amtrak and keeps some pollution out of the air, but surprising. Richmond is not a big airport. I assume the flights are to NYC, ATL, CLT, Tampa and/or Orlando, and maybe Chicago?
 
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