Timetables returning in September?

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jis

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So one possibility is we can create a team of volunteers here at AU where each individual can take on one train and create upto date timetable by editing the standard Amtrak template for that route. Single trains are easy to handle this way. Nultiple trains get more and more complex depending on the number of trains in a table.
 

me_little_me

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It is mind boggling to me that a transportation company with only around 20 routes, the vast majority of which only run once per day, cannot provide a complete schedule of each route showing all stops along the way. Why on earth would they not maintain the PDF, printable schedules? It costs them nothing to do so; the schedules already exist. Their automated schedules are useless while actually on the LD trains in the vast stretches without wifi, and also useless if I don't already know exactly what station I want to board and what station I want to detrain. I swear Amtrak intentionally makes it difficult to plan trips using their service.
Of course they intentionally make it difficult. That's because they don't really care about the paying customers. They only care about the paying legislators (Those bodies of government that provide subsidies - either state or federal).
 

Barb Stout

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Somebody might already have pointed this out, but if not . . .

We just looked over the timetables/schedules from previous years for the two long-distance trains that we will be taking in a few weeks: Southwest Chief (the one effective July 31, 2018), and Capitol Limited (the one effective March 4, 2019). The arrival and departure times are identical those that these trains are currently using.

If you’re like us and must have a printed copy of the timetable/schedule of the train you’re riding on to see if it is running on schedule, check your old timetables. There just might be something there you can use until the new printed timetables are available.

Eric & Pat
There was a minor change on the SWC for the ABQ stop the last time we took the train (2019) compared to 2018, but maybe they switched it back. OTOH, we might have taken our 2018 trip prior to the end of July.
 

SubwayNut

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What Amtraks doing is mind-boggling to me, will timetables no longer be posted in stations? At least state supported routes from states that have their own websites list timetables. NC By rail has all Atlanic coast services and the crescent Crescent Schedule | North Carolina Amtrak Service Although the crescent is out of date
 

neroden

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I have had a lot going on in my life (girlfriend's mother died), but I am tempted to produce an entire timetable. I think we should use our own template for design copyright reasons -- you'll notice that each of the states uses a different template from everyone else -- let's just come up with a nice-looking template, but not in Amtrak's old colors.
 

HenryK

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This thread is valuable to me, and I thank in particular the folks who mentioned Dixieland Software. I travel with a service dog, and need to know the best (longer) stops to get off to relieve the dog. Of course conductors will hold a train for a service dog in an emergency, but it's best not to add to their burdens if possible.
 

jiml

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If someone's actually going to do this, wouldn't a basic black-on-white be the ideal... easy to read, easy to copy and - if it ever got that far - the cheapest to duplicate? A template could be any timetable from the pre-Amtrak era, with high legibility the key. I also wondered if copyrighted names would be an issue? It may have to say New York - New Orleans Service instead of The Crescent, for example.
 
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TheTuck

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I have had a lot going on in my life (girlfriend's mother died), but I am tempted to produce an entire timetable. I think we should use our own template for design copyright reasons -- you'll notice that each of the states uses a different template from everyone else -- let's just come up with a nice-looking template, but not in Amtrak's old colors.
I agree, no reason for Amtrak to get any false credit. If we make these well enough, they will very well make their way onto the trains and stations themselves.
 

Brian Battuello

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Glad the Dixieland software is useful. Remember that if the train is late it will leave as quickly as possible. If it is a real refueling or watering stop the conductor or train attendant can give you a rough idea of how long you have. Never get more than 20 feet from a door. Whatever you do, don't go into the station to shop.
 

saxman

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I know for a fact someone is looking at making their own timetables already. The hard part would be keeping up with thruway bus connections and making sure station services are accurate.

Case is point, why PDF's are useful. I just booked a trip to Roanoke, and I wanted to figure out where to start from. It took lots of digging to figure out the Roanoke train begins in Springfield, MA!

I'm sitting here in Riverside and just wondered how Amtrak might route me to Houston. If I type in RIV to HOS, the Amtrak map and routing software sends me all the way to Galeburg, IL bus to SPI, Eagle to Longview, and bus to Houston. Of course, we all know the Sunset Ltd, serves Ontario, and Ontario is just a few miles from Riverside and can easily be accessed by car. But someone thats knows nothing about Amtrak will assume the only way to get to Houston, or anywhere on the SSL route has to go through Illinois. I see this problem on all the social media groups about Amtrak and it seems to be a common theme on Reddit. "Why can't I get there from here?!"
 

Cal

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I'm sitting here in Riverside and just wondered how Amtrak might route me to Houston. If I type in RIV to HOS, the Amtrak map and routing software sends me all the way to Galeburg, IL bus to SPI, Eagle to Longview, and bus to Houston. Of course, we all know the Sunset Ltd, serves Ontario, and Ontario is just a few miles from Riverside and can easily be accessed by car. But someone thats knows nothing about Amtrak will assume the only way to get to Houston, or anywhere on the SSL route has to go through Illinois. I see this problem on all the social media groups about Amtrak and it seems to be a common theme on Reddit. "Why can't I get there from here?!"
THIS!
 

jis

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The interesting thing though is that someone who is a rail illiterate and knows nothing about Amtrak would not also be able to figure it out give all the printed timetables in the world. Still I don't think that is an argument for discontinuing creating the printable timetables given the relative simplicity of doing so from the online timetable database which must exist for other reasons. It is just another view of that data.
 

acelafan

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So one possibility is we can create a team of volunteers here at AU where each individual can take on one train and create upto date timetable by editing the standard Amtrak template for that route. Single trains are easy to handle this way. Nultiple trains get more and more complex depending on the number of trains in a table.
Crowd-sourced timetables is an interesting idea, although I'm still aggravated we need to consider such an effort.

I went through my archived timetables and came up with a list of easy, moderate and difficult/impossible level of effort. I also noted which timetables have been updated by Amtrak partners:

Easy
====
Adirondack
Auto Train
California Zephyr
Capitol Limited
Cardinal
City of New Orleans
Coast Starlight
Crescent
Empire Builder
Heartland Flyer
Lake Shore Limited
Maple Leaf
Palmetto
Pennsylvanian
Silver Star
Silver Meteor
Southwest Chief
Sunset Limited
Texas Eagle


Moderate
========
Amtrak Cascades*
Capitol Corridor*

Carolinian
Downeaster*
Ethan Allen Express
Michigan Services
Missouri Services
Piedmont
Vermonter / Valley Flyer*


Difficult
=========
Empire Service
Hiawatha
Illinois Services
Keystone Service
Northeast Corridor (New York - Washington)
Northeast Corridor (Boston - Washington)
Northeast Corridor (Springfield - Washington)
Northeast Corridor (Boston - Virginia)
Pacific Surfliner*
San Joaquin*

*Has recently been updated by an external agency or association


So if all else fails, this could be a path forward to retain some semblance of a typical RR timetable.

Does anyone think RPA could come to the rescue? They have managed to reverse a few of Amtrak's "improvements" in recent years.
 

MARC Rider

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Of course they intentionally make it difficult. That's because they don't really care about the paying customers. They only care about the paying legislators (Those bodies of government that provide subsidies - either state or federal).
Actually, that's not true. I tried looking up Amtrak's "farebox recovery ratio" and found values that ranged from 70 to 80%. That means that if the paying customers went away, the subsidies certainly wouldn't be able to make up the slack.
 

me_little_me

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Actually, that's not true. I tried looking up Amtrak's "farebox recovery ratio" and found values that ranged from 70 to 80%. That means that if the paying customers went away, the subsidies certainly wouldn't be able to make up the slack.
Your statement does not disprove anything. I never said they didn't get much from customers. I said AMTRAK DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THEM! Some of us would continue to take the train if it only ran once a month, served no food and provided wooden bunk beds to sleep on.
Remember, Amtrak doesn't even care enough to fully stock food on trains to SELL to coach customers.
 
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neroden

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Query for those who are more technically up-to-date than I am: I know people have mentioned that the timetable data seems to be extractable from the website in a more machine-readable form than screenscraping. I know there were some discussions of JSON and so forth, but I wasn't following in detail at the time.

I am a computer programmer so I can follow this stuff if I'm paying attention. But I'm not up to date on JSON. Could some people answer a couple of questions:
-- How is the data currently queried and populated on the website (interfaces)? What exactly is this existing JSON interface? What computer-readable data can WE get and how?
-- What more, in terms of interfaces, would we want in order to extract the data to publish our own timetables? (Perhaps a way of getting a list of all the train and Thruway Bus numbers so we knew we hadn't "forgotten" any? Perhaps a way of making sure we were looking at a "typical" day? Perhaps simply a cleaner computer-accessible interface? IDK)
 
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neroden

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Does anyone think RPA could come to the rescue? They have managed to reverse a few of Amtrak's "improvements" in recent years.
I cannot say much in public, but I can say that RPA is definitely working on this and wants this fixed.

Unfortunately I don't have any action items from them at this time. I have asked, since I'm not comfortable just waiting and will act on my own if they don't have a coordinated action item.
 
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Willbridge

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Somebody said one of the bills in Congress would require them to restaff stations that had been destaffed recently. I think the destaffing was pre-COVID.
The Senate bill requires stations with 40 or more average daily boardings to be staffed.
 

Willbridge

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Greyhound has a different solution. They have the airline-style start-point to end-point booking software for the public. For employees and the interested public they have a separate website with old-school timetables.
 

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neroden

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Greyhound has a different solution. They have the airline-style start-point to end-point booking software for the public. For employees and the interested public they have a separate website with old-school timetables.
Greyhound is slowly but surely going bankrupt. Frankly, I'm quite sure that concealing the timetables and hiding the map is part of why, though at least they can be found if you know who to ask.
 

Way2Kewl

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<snip> ... But I'm not up to date on JSON. Could some people answer a couple of questions:
-- How is the data currently queried and populated on the website (interfaces)? What exactly is this existing JSON interface?
<snip>
"The JSON format is often used for serializing and transmitting structured data over a network connection. It is used primarily to transmit data between a server and web application, serving as an alternative to XML. JSON is JavaScript Object Notation"

It's a modern way to do screen scraping. in a way, without the scrape... pretty standard way to integrate/pass data between "specific function" programs or components. I'm an old Mainframer and JSON was easy to pick up.... but won't have a chance to practice to perfect as I retire TODAY (After 30 years with Big Blue) Off training next week.
 
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