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Paulus

Conductor
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
1,469
The one you seem to have ignored.....
There are multiple comments there and I'm not sure to which you are referring because the only one that seems vaguely related has to do with the Acela and how they decide to do the F&B accounting with that train and does not in any way contradict my post. Would it kill you to take 30 seconds to copy and paste the comment in question and explain how you think it contradicts my post?
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
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Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
"The vast majority of customers are not actually paying for food"??

How, pray tell, are they getting it then?
They are paying for food; the monetary allocation for those prices comes out of their sleeper fares. They pay for their sleeper fare one way or another.
It is a perk of the sleeper fare, however, quoting Amtrak OIG: "However, when establishing the price of sleeper tickets, the Marketing department does not consider the cost of providing food and beverage services, according to Marketing officials. They set ticket prices based on an assessment of customer demand and price sensitivity." The lack of any relation to actual food expense is why I state that they do not currently pay for it and instead merely receive it as a free perk.
Perk yes, free no. They do pay for the ticket that gets them the perk. If you manage tog et the food without paying for the ticket in either money or AGR points then we can talk about free.
 

SarahZ

Conductor
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
8,088
Location
KAL
From the above quoted Amtrak OIG.http://www.amtrakoig.gov/sites/default/files/reports/oig-a-2014-001_0.pdf.The comment on the bottom of page 6 seems to contradict the above post....
Which comment?
The one you seem to have ignored.....
This is the online equivalent of:

"What did I do wrong?"

"Oh, YOU know..."

Be an adult and quote the comment. You're wasting time and space being passive-aggressive about it.
 
T

Train person

Guest
The one you seem to have ignored.....
There are multiple comments there and I'm not sure to which you are referring because the only one that seems vaguely related has to do with the Acela and how they decide to do the F&B accounting with that train and does not in any way contradict my post. Would it kill you to take 30 seconds to copy and paste the comment in question and explain how you think it contradicts my post?
It would take you about 30 seconds to read the page. You said the ticket price for the sleeper is set without taking account of the food cost. Yet on page 4 it says a slice of the sleeper revenue is transferred to the food and beverage account. Both of those statements taken at face value are true, if so then your claim the food is free is incorrect.
Actually it's page 4, just my ipad told me it was page 6.
 

Paulus

Conductor
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
1,469
The one you seem to have ignored.....
There are multiple comments there and I'm not sure to which you are referring because the only one that seems vaguely related has to do with the Acela and how they decide to do the F&B accounting with that train and does not in any way contradict my post. Would it kill you to take 30 seconds to copy and paste the comment in question and explain how you think it contradicts my post?
It would take you about 30 seconds to read the page. You said the ticket price for the sleeper is set without taking account of the food cost. Yet on page 4 it says a slice of the sleeper revenue is transferred to the food and beverage account. Both of those statements taken at face value are true, if so then your claim the food is free is incorrect.
Actually it's page 4, just my ipad told me it was page 6.
See? It's helpful to quote, since you had the wrong page number. In any case, that does not contradict what I said. It says that there is an internal accounting transfer of sleeper revenue to F&B. The very same document, some pages later, says that the sleeper ticket price is set without consideration of the cost of food. These are not contradictory statements.
 

andersone

Conductor
Joined
Dec 19, 2013
Messages
1,157
Location
Jackson. Ohio
me -

the Nicholson movie was Five Easy Pieces

He wanted a club sandwich,,,,,

had to tell the waitress to take the bacon from here, toast from there,,,,

signature Jack performance
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
26,137
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
See? It's helpful to quote, since you had the wrong page number. In any case, that does not contradict what I said. It says that there is an internal accounting transfer of sleeper revenue to F&B. The very same document, some pages later, says that the sleeper ticket price is set without consideration of the cost of food. These are not contradictory statements.
True. But the fact that part of the overall ticket revenue is transferred from the transportation and accommodation revenue stream to the F&B revenue stream clearly shows that the food is not free. If it was free there would be no such transfer. We are just challenging your contention that somehow food becomes free because it is not explicitly considered in setting a ticket price. It is accurate to say that food is included in the fare, but that does not make it free. Admittedly a rather fine point. So I will stop arguing about it after this message.
 
T

Train person

Guest
The one you seem to have ignored.....
There are multiple comments there and I'm not sure to which you are referring because the only one that seems vaguely related has to do with the Acela and how they decide to do the F&B accounting with that train and does not in any way contradict my post. Would it kill you to take 30 seconds to copy and paste the comment in question and explain how you think it contradicts my post?
It would take you about 30 seconds to read the page. You said the ticket price for the sleeper is set without taking account of the food cost. Yet on page 4 it says a slice of the sleeper revenue is transferred to the food and beverage account. Both of those statements taken at face value are true, if so then your claim the food is free is incorrect.Actually it's page 4, just my ipad told me it was page 6.
See? It's helpful to quote, since you had the wrong page number. In any case, that does not contradict what I said. It says that there is an internal accounting transfer of sleeper revenue to F&B. The very same document, some pages later, says that the sleeper ticket price is set without consideration of the cost of food. These are not contradictory statements.
I bet they don't take into account the cost of laundry for the sleeper bedding. It's not free though is it?
 
T

train persons I

Guest
]Again, it is only a part of the sleeper cost if the sleeper cost is set with it in mind, otherwise it is nothing more than a perk. The Metropolitan Lounges are not part of the cost of a sleeper ticket; they are simply a perk. Ideally the ticket is set high enough to recoup the money from the perks. This is not so with Amtrak's long distance trains.
You seem a little bit obsessed with 'perks' for some reason. The food on the sleeper and access to the lounges isn't a perk.It's part of the deal. Amtrak make an offer for transportation in a sleeper, say $1700 for a bedroom on the CZ. You can chose to book that or decline. If you chose to book that room included in the price are all meals and lounge access. Amtrak choose to offer that, how they decide to move slices of that $1700 around to cover all the ingredients that go together to create a train journey is no concern of mine, or yours. You pay more, you get more. That's how it works.
 

crescent2

Conductor
Joined
Sep 15, 2012
Messages
1,310
Location
a little south of normal
I agree that something that is included as part of the package is not a perk. Meals are included in the cost of sleepers. I don't consider them free, and of course there is no such thing as "free" in the economic world.

As for comparing airlines to Amtrak, for better or worse that's pretty much apples and oranges. In many (most?) situations, there is no practical alternative to flying, due mainly to time constraints. Many people must fly. Most people do not have to take a train, as reasonable alternatives exist in most areas.

Getting back to the new menus--

In checking the menus for the trains on my planned trip, I see a lot of "Please ask your server for today's selection." This no doubt adds an unwanted, repetitive task to the dining car servers. Why not just list both possibilities, with a more conspicuous "OR," on the menu, similar to what they've already done with the pancakes/french toast listing? It doesn't seem that a lot of thought was given to this before the menus were published.

That would not solve the problem that those with food allergies or intolerances have, though, in not knowing ahead of time what the day's selections will be.

This ambiguity is just one more little thing that, by itself, is not that big a deal to me. But sometimes it's the little things, especially a collection of little things, that make an experience memorable and worth repeating and recommending to others. I don't think the current death-by-a-thousand-(little) cuts strategy will necessarily have the desired effect of increasing overall profits.

I was a bit surprised and disappointed to see neither the pancakes/RR french toast option nor bacon offered on the Cardinal's limited menu. (Precooked bacon is not hard to acquire.) I don't know what was on the menu previously. The menu changes aren't much of an issue to me personally. I'm just not sure this path is beneficial to Amtrak in the long run.

I will also say that if the rumor about charging sleeper passengers menu prices for meals (or even worse, discontinuing diner service) happens in the future, that will affect whether I travel on Amtrak. I doubt prices will be reduced accordingly. That adds significant cost to a trip. I like to travel light and don't want to lug days of meals with me, even if there were enough space on the train for everyone to do so--which there isn't. Surely this will remain only a rumor!
 
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D.P. Roberts

Conductor
Joined
Aug 16, 2006
Messages
1,316
Location
Guilder & Florin Scenic Railroad
Getting back to the new menus--

In checking the menus for the trains on my planned trip, I see a lot of "Please ask your server for today's selection." This no doubt adds an unwanted, repetitive task to the dining car servers. Why not just list both possibilities, with a more conspicuous "OR," on the menu, similar to what they've already done with the pancakes/french toast listing? It doesn't seem that a lot of thought was given to this before the menus were published.
Great idea! In fact, as I stated in this very thread just a few hours ago,

Here's my idea:

You'll notice that for breakfast, most of the menus say that either the Pancakes OR the Railroad French Toast will be available. Your server lets you know which one is being served at that meal. Why can't they do that with the other options? As we know from other posts here about amtrakfoodfacts.com, there are only two choices for each "special item" anyway - why not just list both of those specials in the same manner?

For example, under "Specialty Sandwich", the menu can list both the Crab Cake and the Bratwurst, with their appropriate descriptions. The menu includes the phrase "OR (Depending on your train's specific menu)" between them. That way, when your server says "Today's Specialty Sandwich is the Bratwurst", you already know what he/she is talking about, without asking them to explain what it is.
Clearly, this is something that someone at Amtrak thought of, since they did so with the French Toast and Pancakes. Since you and I (and undoubtedly many others) thought of immediately, one wonders why Amtrak didn't bother doing this.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the "specials" currently listed on amtrakfoodfacts.com aren't going to be "permanent" alternatives, and that they may change up the specials in an essentially random order, at least for the life of this menu.

To that end, I've already e-mailed Amtrak to ask whether the various specials are going to be available this summer (since the date on that page is 5/08/13, they're long out of date).
 

crescent2

Conductor
Joined
Sep 15, 2012
Messages
1,310
Location
a little south of normal
Sorry 'bout that, DP! I had recalled that there were some suggestions such as putting the descriptions on the table separately (which is a good solution if menus are already printed), but I missed yours. Great minds think alike. :)

Maybe you're right in thinking the alternatives are in flux. In that case, I guess it makes sense to not print them on the menus. Having the servers run through the selections repeatedly just didn't sound like the best plan.
 

Crescent ATN & TCL

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 29, 2008
Messages
691
Location
Tuscaloosa/Lincoln, AL
When you are preparing food in a kitchen the size of a bathroom moving at 80-110 mph keeping things simple only makes sense. The servers that are worth their salt can easily name o ff five house specials and take down the orders. Now if we could only improve the reliability of the quality that is offered.
 

Gingee

OBS Chief
Joined
Nov 21, 2004
Messages
924
Where is the menu? I couldn't bring it up. Will be on the eastbound to NYC in a few weeks and then south to Florida.
 

the Other Mike

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 14, 2008
Messages
355
Location
New Orleans / Los Guanos
So, not complaining about the flowers anymore ? itsk tisk

The way people on AU ***** about everything, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a group of Amtrak bean counters make these changes and then bet of who on AU will whine the loudest.
 

Eris

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 15, 2007
Messages
275
All of the questions of whether Amtrak is going to hell in a handbasket or not notwithstanding, the little change where the lunch items are Lunch/Dinner is pretty huge for me! I am both a cheapskate and broke, usually travel coach between Seattle and Los Angeles, and I like both the veggie burger and the angus burger- being able to order it at dinner opens up my dining car options. Where before I couldn't really consider the dining car for dinner, I now can/will. The Angus burger, at $10.50, is actually *cheaper* than a microwave burger+chips+coffee from the cafe car, at $11 (though with a decent tip the dining car will cost a little more- but the burger is better and the environs more pleasant).
 

crescent2

Conductor
Joined
Sep 15, 2012
Messages
1,310
Location
a little south of normal
other Mike- Many of us aren't bitching so much as wondering if Amtrak isn't shooting its own self in the foot with some of these changes.

And I liked the fresh flowers. :)
 
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montana mike

Conductor
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
1,520
Location
Whitefish, Montana
We just finished an Empire Builder adventure-10+ hours late, oh well. But one thing that we got quite a chuckle about was the thinness of the new "plastic" dishware. The plates, bowls and cups are so thin (read cheap) that at every meal someone either stuck their knife or fork through a bowl or plate or someone's plastic cup leaked all over the table. The wait staff were besides themselves with this situation, with several "clean up on aisle three" moments at each meal. We are talking about really, really down and dirty, cheap and flimsy plasticware here. I don't think I have ever seen such thin plates and bowls.

The "green factor" has to be out the window now. The huge increase in trash generated by this junk was so evident at our major stops where they remove the trash. We spoke with the chef, who said it is a challenge to store all of the trash on a couple of segments when the train is full due to the much larger amount of trash that is generated. I would really like to see the math on how all of this extra disposable stuff is actually saving Amtrak money.

Lastly, on the first night out the Empire Builder ran out of one of the desserts and an entree and during our first lunch all other options were gone by Noon except the Angus and Veggie burgers. When I asked the DC steward if someone in CHI had given them an incomplete load she said, nope, this appears to be the norm now for the past couple trips, with many entrees and desserts running out early during the journey. She said they had let the appropriate people know about these issues, but had not noted any change in the loading yet. So if your favorite item is on the menu, order it early. And our train, while busy, was by no means "summer full".

:-(

PS--The ability to order at least some lunch items at Dinner was a plus--the only silver lining I could find in these latest changes.
 
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Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,741
Location
Austin Texas
It sounds like the EB Management(in conjunction with BNSF) have caught the Financial Excellence Disease

Or else they've dusted off the old "run 'em off" playbook that SP used in the 60s to get rid of those unwanted passengers so those pesky, money losing passenger trains could be made to disappear!

It hasn't been that long since the Builder was the pride of Amtrak! Time to seriously consider bringing back the Pioneer!
 
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T

Train person

Guest
I suppose by some that having plates that don't crack from a knife and fork or cups that don't leak would be seen as a 'perk'.....
 

cpamtfan

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 7, 2008
Messages
841
Location
Long Island, NY.
That's the issue with having lunch options being availible for dinner, it is going to completely throw off invetory on every single train.

It must be really frustrating and infuriating for the crews on the Empire Builder especially. What a waste of china, too.
 

yarrow

Conductor
Joined
Feb 25, 2006
Messages
2,222
Location
nine mile falls, washington
We just finished an Empire Builder adventure-10+ hours late, oh well. But one thing that we got quite a chuckle about was the thinness of the new "plastic" dishware. The plates, bowls and cups are so thin (read cheap) that at every meal someone either stuck their knife or fork through a bowl or plate or someone's plastic cup leaked all over the table. The wait staff were besides themselves with this situation, with several "clean up on aisle three" moments at each meal. We are talking about really, really down and dirty, cheap and flimsy plasticware here. I don't think I have ever seen such thin plates and bowls.

The "green factor" has to be out the window now. The huge increase in trash generated by this junk was so evident at our major stops where they remove the trash. We spoke with the chef, who said it is a challenge to store all of the trash on a couple of segments when the train is full due to the much larger amount of trash that is generated. I would really like to see the math on how all of this extra disposable stuff is actually saving Amtrak money.

Lastly, on the first night out the Empire Builder ran out of one of the desserts and an entree and during our first lunch all other options were gone by Noon except the Angus and Veggie burgers. When I asked the DC steward if someone in CHI had given them an incomplete load she said, nope, this appears to be the norm now for the past couple trips, with many entrees and desserts running out early during the journey. She said they had let the appropriate people know about these issues, but had not noted any change in the loading yet. So if your favorite item is on the menu, order it early. And our train, while busy, was by no means "summer full".

:-(

PS--The ability to order at least some lunch items at Dinner was a plus--the only silver lining I could find in these latest changes.
pretty amazing. no more blaming mica or congress or whatever. this is happening during boardman's watch(though certainly not in the private cars he favors).
 
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