Service Reductions effective October 1

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Joined
Apr 27, 2009
Messages
4
I just purchased a ticket from LA to Portland October 1 and Portland to Chicago October 3.I was told there maybe a disruption in service. They showed trains running the day before and the day after. I have no clue what’s going on with the 3 days a week long distance train service October 1.
 

Hans627

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
19
I want to emphasize how important this is. I wrote a snail mail letter to Customer Relations after my January Auto Train with complimentary comments about my SCA and the SA in the Lounge Car. I had names as well as my date of travel so that the individuals could be easily identified by Amtrak. I received a very nice thank you response from Amtrak and assured me that their Supervisors would be notified and asked to give them proper recognition.
I’m currently on the Silver Meteor and been having great service. Where do I get the address to write a letter of commendation.
 

20th Century Rider

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
358
I just purchased a ticket from LA to Portland October 1 and Portland to Chicago October 3.I was told there maybe a disruption in service. They showed trains running the day before and the day after. I have no clue what’s going on with the 3 days a week long distance train service October 1.
You are entitled to know the schedule... and although you will be entitled to a refund, customers should be treated better. It seems that they haven't finalized the schedule and are waiting to see what happens with the pandemic. Finally, many many others are in the same situation as you. Wishing you well!
 

nferr

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 24, 2009
Messages
271
That would be an argument for slashing service two or three months back when many people couldn't travel, or even possibly now when travel demand is still very low (IIRC, much of California is still under strict shelter-at-home orders) but IMHO not in October when, knock on wood, travel demand will have started recovering.

Some of the most severe (and IMHO reasonable) slashing of Amtrak corridor service during the strictest stay-at-home orders -- no Acelas, no Hiawathas, no Downeasters, no Keystones or Pennsylvanian -- have been and are being walked back with partial restoration of service. Running daily long-distance trains during that period but then slashing LD service in October becomes even more bizarre in comparison.

As to running mostly empty trains, transit providers keep lightly-used bus and train runs as a cost of maintaining a scheduled headway (e.g. 15 minute buses, or hourly trains) that the riding public expects. They run a half-empty 10am train so that people who usually take the full 8am train can rely that there'll be a train every hour. So potential riders don't have to choose between memorizing gaps in the schedule and conforming their lives to them, or saying f'it it's easier to just drive.

Same with Amtrak corridor service. I doubt every Acela or Keystone or Hiawatha has the ridership of the busy rush-hour runs, but cutting one lightly-traveled run in hopes of driving passengers to fill the preceding or following run would create a schedule gap that would discourage some passengers from choosing the train altogether.

Daily LD service is also the same. Nobody planning their travel has to think if today is a train day in their town, or they'll have to wait a day (or two!) to travel, if every day is a train day. Because if they do have to fit their lives to a 3-times-weekly Amtrak schedule, many will say f'it, it's easier to just drive.
And where's Amtrak supposed to get the money to keep running empty trains? They've already gone twice to the Federal govt during the pandemic to get emergency funding. You think the govt is going to keep handing them billions to run daily trains with 10% occupancy?
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,329
And where's Amtrak supposed to get the money to keep running empty trains? They've already gone twice to the Federal govt during the pandemic to get emergency funding. You think the govt is going to keep handing them billions to run daily trains with 10% occupancy?
Ridership on LD trains only decreased by 70% and is already recovering. Reducing from daily to tri-weekly service in the past has shown little to no savings; it may even increase losses. I wouldn't be at all happy about it but from a financial perspective it would make more sense to cut a few routes entirely and continue running the rest daily.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if this is intended to be another threat to get the government to increase funding. That would explain the earlier cuts to the SM and SS (it shows they are serious), while holding off on even updated the reservation system or announcing schedules for trains affected by the October 1st cuts.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
360
Perhaps Amtrak is hedging their bets. Maybe they want to see how strong bookings are before reducing service and changing reservations to a reduced frequency schedule. Or, more likely, it could just be one hand not knowing what the other is doing.
Greyhound was having this problem before the Pandemic hit. Their reservation computer would differ from the on-line timetables and service change bulletins sometimes missed big changes. Having given time in my career to stamping out problems like this, I learned that either the software needs to learn to communicate or the oft-derided middle managers need to learn to communicate. AND, horrors!, there need to be enough people to do either of those functions (I.T. and/or mid-level managers).
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
360
It all has a rolling effect.

If the Eagle matches the Sunset days, will the connecting trains from the East match the Eagle days out of Chicago?

This is just another reason why 3X weekly is hard to work around.
The past Amtrak experiences with try-weakly service included changes in operating dates after the launch, as complaints and suggestions rolled in. 3x or 4x connections can work if it's with a daily train, but it's hard to make something like the Coast Starlight work with more than just the Sunset.
 

Willbridge

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
360
They certainly could, however, state budgets are going to be very stressed over the next couple of years, so they may be very careful and stingy. I think it's going to be to the point of education or trains or healthcare or....
Yes, and each state has its own type/s of funding. The Amtrak cutback proposal has a reduction that assumes some state trains getting the axe.
 

Hans627

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
19
How does the proposed service cuts effect the Silver's? Are they considered long distance trains?
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,236
Are they considered long distance trains?
Yes, both Silvers are considered long distance trains. The shortest of them (the Silver Meteor) is longer than eight other long distance trains. I'm told the route length must be 750 miles (1200 km) to qualify for the long distance category.

Route miles for all the long distance trains are posted in blue to the chart in Post #4 of this thread: Long Distance Train Coach & Sleeper Fares (Buckets)
 
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Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
402
The past Amtrak experiences with try-weakly service included changes in operating dates after the launch, as complaints and suggestions rolled in. 3x or 4x connections can work if it's with a daily train, but it's hard to make something like the Coast Starlight work with more than just the Sunset.
Laugh icon for "try-weakly".
 

Skyline

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 19, 2016
Messages
707
Thank you. Just FYI, they no longer carry contact cards. I got her name and will try to find out where to send a letter.
Are they not permitted to hand out cards, or does Amtrak simply not supply those cards to OBS staff any longer?

If I was OBS, I would gladly pay for my own cards. They would come in handy for multiple situations, and might prove to be very cost-efficient if you know what I mean.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
2,834
This is a very effective way to kill off LD travel completely, because there is no way to plan a trip.

Not knowing what day a train will arrive in a certain city, you can’t make hotel reservations because you don’t know what night you will be there.

If you need to connect to another train, it’s impossible to know when that train will run.

Who is going to waste money booking a hotel for three or four nights just to make sure they are there the day the one train comes in and the day the next one leaves?

Most people will fly or drive instead. Those of us who only travel by train will just be grateful for the memories of past travel and stay home and maybe finally get around to learning how to cook and garden.
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
8
And where's Amtrak supposed to get the money to keep running empty trains? They've already gone twice to the Federal govt during the pandemic to get emergency funding. You think the govt is going to keep handing them billions to run daily trains with 10% occupancy?
Finally! Someone who gets it! Unlike most posters here.
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
8
Ridership on LD trains only decreased by 70% and is already recovering. Reducing from daily to tri-weekly service in the past has shown little to no savings; it may even increase losses. I wouldn't be at all happy about it but from a financial perspective it would make more sense to cut a few routes entirely and continue running the rest daily.
Right now in the passenger transport industry (which includes airlines) it is all about short-term cash flow to pay the bills, not long-term strategy.

I think we all know that cutting frequency also cuts revenue even more and vice versa with increasing frequency ("double the frequency, triple the revenue"), and obviously running trains 3x/wk instead of daily leads to huge net inefficiencies with crew scheduling.

But if the overall effect of these changes leads to a slower cash bleed, that is what it is all about and is what they need to do right now, unless Congress wants to pony up.
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
8
I just got off the Crescent this morning in WAS. The cuts are happening. SA (who’s in the top 100 in seniority in the whole OBS division) told me some new higher up was recently on the train and talking to the employees about the upcoming reductions. He said he kept on calling them (the employees) “commodities”. Anyway, just passing on what I heard.
I call BS. (Not to you, NativeSon5859 - I believe an SA told you that.)

I really doubt a "higher up" referred to front-line employees as "commodities" right to a front-line employee. I would love to hear this "higher up" employee's side of the story.

(And if the higher-up really did refer to front-line employees as "commodities" right to their faces without any understandable context, s/he should be fired.)
 
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