Ridership Survey

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

PerRock

Conductor
Joined
Sep 16, 2006
Messages
1,946
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
A few years ago I ran a survey to find out how people tipped on Amtrak. I figure it's time for a new one. This year I've expanded it to get more general ridership questions & demographics. I'll keep the survey up for a few weeks, then release a report of my findings.


Here is the thread for the previous survey: Survey: Tipping on Amtrak
Edit: Also, let me know here if you have any question ideas for the next survey.
 
Last edited:

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,252
Location
NHV
This is great! I submitted. I don't really care about the tipping section, but would be interested in the results from the other sections!

The Vermonter is mispelled in the checkboxes for corridor services by the way.

I can circulate this to a couple groups off AU but not sure how that would skew data. Let me know either way.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
972
Location
QB 101
You'll need to add 'other' or 'all of the above' for 'what type of Amtrak train to you usually travel on?', or, allow multiple choices to be concurrently selected. The same holds true on the next question (class).

In Canada, you need to differentiate between the original 'all CP' route Canadian and it's CN counterpart, the Super Continental, which I rode while both were under VIA. Todays' Canadian route is almost all CN except for the directional running shared with CP in British Columbia. (I think that's where it is)
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,159
Calling it a tipping survey is likely to depress your response rate. Folks around here have largely expressed themselves fully on their tipping policies and may be unlikely to respond to a survey, especially since tipping is only a small part of the total survey.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Maplewood, MN
Let us know what the results are. I'm always at a loss as to what an appropriate tip is in since rail travel is not common enough that there is a societal norm. I'd be curious as to if your survey finds any kind of consensus.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
275
Location
Lubec, ME
Under Canada it would be nice to include routes that no longer exist e.g. the Atlantic, the Halifax to Sydney RDC, the Edmonton - Calgary service. Also the Polar Bear train to Mosonee I don't recall seeing that, which i think still runs.
 

basketmaker

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 19, 2018
Messages
311
Location
Brighton, CO (DEN but FMG-Preferred)
A few years ago I ran a survey to find out how people tipped on Amtrak. I figure it's time for a new one. This year I've expanded it to get more general ridership questions & demographics. I'll keep the survey up for a few weeks, then release a report of my findings.




Edit: Also, let me know here if you have any question ideas for the next survey.
Wow. That was awesome! You did some in-depth work on that.
 

PerRock

Conductor
Joined
Sep 16, 2006
Messages
1,946
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
A few comments on the comments here:
I elected to only focus on current services outside of the historical Amtrak routes (so Canadian, Commuter, etc are all "current" & no fallen flags) and didn't include 'tourist' lines (I waffled a lot & in the end included the Rocky Mountaneer).

Most of the questions are about your typical travel, not all the ways you've traveled. So it doesn't make sense to ask, for example, what train do you typically travel on & then allow multiple trains. Although it's a interesting option for next time.

Most of the lists were gotten from Wikipedia (there is an easy import function); I tried to catch as many typos from there; if a route (or country) is missing, it's because it was missing on the Wikipedia list.

Here are some preliminary findings after 24hrs & 60 responses:

  • Most people tip their sleeping car attendant $20 when getting off & their dining car staff 20% of the bill.
  • Long Distance routes are the most typically traveled, with most people in rooms (knowing the demographics I've gotten, this makes sense)
  • The Empire Builder is the most popular LD route so far, but the Zephyr isn't far behind.
  • Unsurprisingly the NE Regional is the most popular SH route.
  • Midwestern ridership is nowhere near the levels of the other 2 corridors.Which is interesting because Chicago's Metra is the most popular commuter service.
  • NYCTA, MBTA & Washington Metro are all neck in neck.
  • For foreign travel, the UK takes the lead.

The survey isn't closing for a few weeks still.
 

Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,386
Location
Socal
Midwestern ridership is nowhere near the levels of the other 2 corridors.Which is interesting because Chicago's Metra is the most popular commuter service.
The midwest frequencies, apart from the Hiawatha and Lincoln Service, are pretty poor. Don't must routes only have 3 daily round trips?
 

CCC1007

Customer Service Agent
Joined
Jan 2, 2015
Messages
1,794
The midwest frequencies, apart from the Hiawatha and Lincoln Service, are pretty poor. Don't must routes only have 3 daily round trips?
Some have 3, others 2 or 1. Service is determined by what the state funding the line wants.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal

NorthShore

Conductor
Joined
Sep 3, 2013
Messages
1,138
Location
Chicago
  • Midwestern ridership is nowhere near the levels of the other 2 corridors.Which is interesting because Chicago's Metra is the most popular commuter service.
I found the question concerning this awkward. As a Chicagoan, I don't instinctively think of Midwest trains as "corridor" service. I was only able to answer appropriately because I have more knowledge, as an informed transit advocate. And it still threw me and took a second to sort out. Others I know, locally, consider Illinois trains to be "long distance", because it's Amtrak not Metra commuters.

Even among people from the press with whom I've spoken, they have a hard time sorting out the difference between a train to Michigan or St. Louis (in another state) and a train to New York or L.A. (in another state.) This gets really odd when the hypothetical midwest high speed corridor is discussed. They just can't get their mind around differences. To satirically paraphrase, sometimes it seems the dictum is, "It's all Amtrak to me!"

Maybe that has something to do with how trains have, historically, intertwined into the transportation center which Chicago has been for over a century? It's such a very unique view and experience from anywhere else in the country. "All trains come to Chicago" (None go through Chicago), after all.

There may be something to why you're receiving this disconnect in the minds of respondents, then, assuming some common sensibilities. I'm not sure what can be done to correct it, maybe saying "instate/regional" as an option?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,091
Location
Baltimore. MD
I found the question concerning this awkward. As a Chicagoan, I don't instinctively think of Midwest trains as "corridor" service. I was only able to answer appropriately because I have more knowledge, as an informed transit advocate. And it still threw me and took a second to sort out. Others I know, locally, consider Illinois trains to be "long distance", because it's Amtrak not Metra commuters.

Even among people from the press with whom I've spoken, they have a hard time sorting out the difference between a train to Michigan or St. Louis (in another state) and a train to New York or L.A. (in another state.) This gets really odd when the hypothetical midwest high speed corridor is discussed. They just can't get their mind around differences. To satirically paraphrase, sometimes it seems the dictum is, "It's all Amtrak to me!"

Maybe that has something to do with how trains have, historically, intertwined into the transportation center which Chicago has been for over a century? It's such a very unique view and experience from anywhere else in the country. "All trains come to Chicago" (None go through Chicago), after all.

There may be something to why you're receiving this disconnect in the minds of respondents, then, assuming some common sensibilities. I'm not sure what can be done to correct it, maybe saying "instate/regional" as an option?
"Commuter" service: Mostly trips of under 50 miles, though there are exceptions, like Metro North, and MARC, etc. Usually used by people commuting to work on a more or less daily basis or for trip within a single metro area. Typically has no onboard food service, and seating may be a bit cramped, which is OK, because most people are taking short trips.

"Intercity" or corridor service: Travels between different metro areas, most trips are longer than 50 miles or so. Most trips are single day trips (though there is 65/66/67 the overnight service on the NEC). Trains generally are equipped with reclining seat coach, business class, and a cafe car, though the Hiawatha and Keystones have no food service. The Palmetto would qualify for this, even though Amtrak calls it a "long distance train." With the exception of the NEC, if they're run by Amtrak and the route is less than 750 miles, they have to be funded by the states through which the route passes.

"Long distance" These trains have a route that requires an overnight trip, even if many, or even most of the passengers use it for day trips. The trains typically have coaches, sleeping cars, a cafe car and full dining service (or at least flex food). They may also have an observation car or other special features.

The boundaries between these service types are a bit fuzzy. In the early days of Amtrak there were a lot of arguments about what was "commuter" service and what was "intercity." Somehow, the Keystones became "intercity" and run by Amtrak, whereas some other longer distance commuter routes (like the Metro North New Haven Line or the Port Jervis Line remained under the responsibility of the commuter rail operators.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
275
Location
Lubec, ME
I keep on learning! I thought maybe the Holy Father had a Lionel set-up in the Papal Apartments. 😀
Probably not, but I know a number of priests that are model railroaders, even one that belongs to a live steamer club. Perhaps someday one of them might get promoted to bishop then cardinal then ... - anything is possible :D
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
3,429
Location
LAX
Tip increments - Saying $5 does not really indicate much about the level of tipping. A lot of my tips (both Red Cap and SCA) are in $5 increments (because that is often the lowest denomination in my pocket) regardless of the total tip.
"How often do you travel by Amtrak?" Recently, its been once a year. Is that "rarely"? I ask because its not unusual for our one trip a year to involve 4, 5 or 6 trains which has been our norm the past several years.
"What type of Amtrak train do you usually travel on?" Being able to check both corridor and long distance would be nice.
 
Top