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Sunset Limited service disruption 10/1/20

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tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,143
Location
Spring Creek, NC
Buses leaving El Paso now. ETA San Antonio 3:30-4:30am

Does anyone here know anything about the freight derailment causing this mess?
 

daybeers

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
772
Location
HFD
On bus now, not yet departed. Bus driver not wearing mask. Took me 3 buses to find one with even an approximation of social distancing. One driver told me he wasn't worried about that. Well, I am. :mad:

Despite having had hours to organize this, Amtrak staff here are incredibly disorganized.
I'm so sorry! I would be so pissed. Definitely talk with Customer Relations about that because that's ridiculous and probably illegal. I can't find any info on the derailment yet. Hang in there! :)
 

PVD

Conductor
AU Supporter
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Jul 8, 2015
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4,974
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NYC/Queens
Legality probably depends on location. El Paso is in Texas, which has many people who live in "state of denial" But it shouldn't take a law for people to want to show respect for others, or to exhibit common sense. If I see someone heading for the door to my building, I don't hold it for them because I have to, I do it because it is right. Having the legal, constitutional, or God given right (pick em) not to do something, doesn't mean you aren't a jackass if you don't.
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,718
Location
Texas
El Paso is in Texas, which has many people who live in "state of denial" But it shouldn't take a law for people to want to show respect for others, or to exhibit common sense.
I remember reading in an article that after Texas restricted texting while driving usage actually increased just to spite the fact that a law had been passed against it.

(edited for wording and grammar)
 
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Willbridge

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
573
Location
Denver
Though the results aren't always good it's sometimes tough to get charter buses in Flyover Country. Years ago I was the last dispatcher for the Gray Line of Portland before it went under and about a third of our fleet would have been acceptable to Amtrak passengers. Of course, those buses were often in service on other work.

Another third were safe enough and okay for city charters, airport or train station transfers, etc.

And then there was the bottom third, of interest to fans of vintage buses. Best described by my father's question "Have you asked the shop foreman if No. 5 still has a coat hanger installed to keep the engine from shutting off?" After a storm he was on a bus bridge for a Cinerama rail excursion to Seattle and No. 5 was fixed by the driver with a coat hanger borrowed from a passenger's suitcase. That was almost two decades before I had to send it out in emergencies.

The drivers -- Teamsters -- could be described in the same three categories. In turn, Amtrak has so depleted its middle management that there often is no one on the scene of problems. So, yes, the bus operation was subpar, but not surprising.
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,143
Location
Spring Creek, NC
Though the results aren't always good it's sometimes tough to get charter buses in Flyover Country. Years ago I was the last dispatcher for the Gray Line of Portland before it went under and about a third of our fleet would have been acceptable to Amtrak passengers. Of course, those buses were often in service on other work.

Another third were safe enough and okay for city charters, airport or train station transfers, etc.

And then there was the bottom third, of interest to fans of vintage buses. Best described by my father's question "Have you asked the shop foreman if No. 5 still has a coat hanger installed to keep the engine from shutting off?" After a storm he was on a bus bridge for a Cinerama rail excursion to Seattle and No. 5 was fixed by the driver with a coat hanger borrowed from a passenger's suitcase. That was almost two decades before I had to send it out in emergencies.

The drivers -- Teamsters -- could be described in the same three categories. In turn, Amtrak has so depleted its middle management that there often is no one on the scene of problems. So, yes, the bus operation was subpar, but not surprising.
The el Paso Amtrak station is right next to a Greyhound depot where I saw dozens of buses parked. And El Paso is a sizable city that's a service hub for a large area.

The most egregious missteps yesterday were failure to sort out and communicate to passengers any procedure for safely transferring to buses during the hours we waited in El Paso for them, and the apparent failure to require bus drivers to wear masks.

Passengers piled on buses at random, an Amtrak rep came by AFTER we boarded to rearrange us into social distancing--with little success, since there were too many of us to skip rows and on the 4 buses. The Amtrak rep pulled down her mask as she talked to each person on our bus, getting our names. And then, mask still down, urged the entire car to practice social distancing (for which there wasn't enough room ). Bus driver standing next to her maskless while she spoke.

I'm giving details here to inform other folks' travel decisions. I'd booked Amtrak, in a roomette, because it seemed the safest way to make a long distance trip that couldn't be postponed indefinitely. The way they handled this service disruption (crowded on a bus for nearly 12 hours with too many people making too little effort to avoid contagion) leads me to conclude that choosing Amtrak was unwise. I hope I don't pay for that mistake with a Covid infection
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,728
Location
Austin Texas
The el Paso Amtrak station is right next to a Greyhound depot where I saw dozens of buses parked. And El Paso is a sizable city that's a service hub for a large area.

The most egregious missteps yesterday were failure to sort out and communicate to passengers any procedure for safely transferring to buses during the hours we waited in El Paso for them, and the apparent failure to require bus drivers to wear masks.

Passengers piled on buses at random, an Amtrak rep came by AFTER we boarded to rearrange us into social distancing--with little success, since there were too many of us to skip rows and on the 4 buses. The Amtrak rep pulled down her mask as she talked to each person on our bus, getting our names. And then, mask still down, urged the entire car to practice social distancing (for which there wasn't enough room ). Bus driver standing next to her maskless while she spoke.

I'm giving details here to inform other folks' travel decisions. I'd booked Amtrak, in a roomette, because it seemed the safest way to make a long distance trip that couldn't be postponed indefinitely. The way they handled this service disruption (crowded on a bus for nearly 12 hours with too many people making too little effort to avoid contagion) leads me to conclude that choosing Amtrak was unwise. I hope I don't pay for that mistake with a Covid infection
Please let Customer Relations know about this Clusterflub!!😣
 

daybeers

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
772
Location
HFD
The el Paso Amtrak station is right next to a Greyhound depot where I saw dozens of buses parked. And El Paso is a sizable city that's a service hub for a large area.

The most egregious missteps yesterday were failure to sort out and communicate to passengers any procedure for safely transferring to buses during the hours we waited in El Paso for them, and the apparent failure to require bus drivers to wear masks.

Passengers piled on buses at random, an Amtrak rep came by AFTER we boarded to rearrange us into social distancing--with little success, since there were too many of us to skip rows and on the 4 buses. The Amtrak rep pulled down her mask as she talked to each person on our bus, getting our names. And then, mask still down, urged the entire car to practice social distancing (for which there wasn't enough room ). Bus driver standing next to her maskless while she spoke.

I'm giving details here to inform other folks' travel decisions. I'd booked Amtrak, in a roomette, because it seemed the safest way to make a long distance trip that couldn't be postponed indefinitely. The way they handled this service disruption (crowded on a bus for nearly 12 hours with too many people making too little effort to avoid contagion) leads me to conclude that choosing Amtrak was unwise. I hope I don't pay for that mistake with a Covid infection
Yeah that's absolutely not acceptable by any means. Someone on one of those four buses is bound to get infected, and that's on Amtrak. I'd mail them the bill if I got hospitalized (I know, the new liability policy and arbitration agreement...)
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,143
Location
Spring Creek, NC
Received an email reply this week from Amtrak to my letter about this trip. Here's most of it:

"Thank you for your recent correspondence.

We appreciate your taking the time to bring your concerns to our attention. We are sorry to learn that your trip was negatively impacted due to a service disruption. Occasionally, in situations such as this, it is necessary to provide alternative transportation in order to facilitate connections for our passengers. We regret that we did not meet expectations in this instance.

Furthermore, we are disappointed to receive your report of the noncompliance to our safety measures employed in our response to COVID-19. At Amtrak, the safety of our passengers and employees is our number one priority. Therefore, we have documented and forwarded your correspondence to the appropriate management for their review and corrective action. Please rest assured that we take matters such as this very seriously and are grateful for your comments and feedback.

We would not want an unsatisfactory experience to be your last impression of our service and would like to win back your confidence and support. Therefore, we have authorized a Transportation Voucher in the amount of $100...."

Since that $100 is only a fraction of the accommodation charge I paid for my roomette, and the bustitution lasted the entire night of this one-night trip, it seems miserly--I'd paid considerably more than that for a lie-flat bed, privacy, and safety. Fortunately, I did NOT get sick from the unsafe night on the bus.

I wish I had more faith that "forwarding your correspondence the appropriate management" will make any difference whatsoever. As it is, I'm off Amtrak travel for as long as this pandemic rages uncontrolled--mid or late next year, depending on how vaccine and (I hope) more widespread adoption of infection-control measures pan out in the coming months.
 

me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,366
I'd reply, explaining calmly and clearly that you paid an accommodation charge of $$$ and you ended up in a bus all night and therefore they failed to provide you a refund of your accommodation and you expect them to honor your request. You might also mention that, should they fail to do so, you are requesting arbitration. The cost to them for the arbitration would likely exceed the amount you are requesting and that excludes any money you would receive should you lose.
 

tricia

Conductor
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
1,143
Location
Spring Creek, NC
I'd reply, explaining calmly and clearly that you paid an accommodation charge of $$$ and you ended up in a bus all night and therefore they failed to provide you a refund of your accommodation and you expect them to honor your request. You might also mention that, should they fail to do so, you are requesting arbitration. The cost to them for the arbitration would likely exceed the amount you are requesting and that excludes any money you would receive should you lose.
Done--thanks for the nudge. I've also asked "to be informed about exactly what "corrective action" Amtrak decides to take, and when it will become effective, to ensure that alternative transportation arranged by Amtrak during service disruptions actually follows the strict COVID safety protocols that Amtrak prominently advertises."

I'll post here if/when I get a response.

Meanwhile, threads I see on this forum posted by folks planning long, multi-leg Amtrak trips in the near future give me the willies.
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
2,872
First and most important, tricia, I am so glad that you are well and did not get the virus from that awful bus ride.

Second, I agree with you—$100 is an insult for what you went through. And also agree about the cross-country trips—they are out for me as well for the foreseeable future.
 
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