Timetables returning in September?

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neroden

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I will soon produce a new version since I have discovered a few significant changes in the Thruway service around Richmond/Charlottesville and had missed one. I’ll post when I have the fixed one. Thanks for sharing it.
This is actually my biggest single beef with the lack of timetables -- it's now impossible to discover new Thruway routes. (Or, should they ever happen, new train routes!) This also seems like the hole which is hardest for us to plug. How did you find the changes in the Thruway service?
 

mitako

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For those with a yen for the old-style timetables in the Amtrak System Timetable, the daily pre-Covid ones are still available here... Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes ...if you first click Destinations, then See All Routes, etc, etc.

The only ones I know of that are grossly outdated are the times for the Crescent and sleeper availability for NER 66 & 67.
Wow, they must have just restored those, because I checked yesterday or the day before, and the schedules were not there. Maybe all of our complaining actually had an effect!
 

saxman

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Wow, they must have just restored those, because I checked yesterday or the day before, and the schedules were not there. Maybe all of our complaining actually had an effect!
Yup, looks like they provided links to PDF's again. But I clicked on the Crescent schedule and it pulls up the old timetable. :rolleyes:
 

jis

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This is actually my biggest single beef with the lack of timetables -- it's now impossible to discover new Thruway routes. (Or, should they ever happen, new train routes!) This also seems like the hole which is hardest for us to plug. How did you find the changes in the Thruway service?
By carefully trying to use those Thruways in test bookings. Quite tedious.

I was left wondering if it happens that Amtrak starts a Thruway, the Timetable folks screw up so that no one uses it since the schedule builder does not show any itinerary using it. So then Amtrak discontinues the service as a failure due to lack of ridership. Could happen to new trains too, given how goofy the schedule builder at present is.

Anyhow, two Thruway services from the past seem to have disappeared. One is the Thruway connection from/to the Crescent to/From RVR, and the other is an oddball Thruway that used to exist between Washington DC and Charlottesville. I suspect this one disappeared when the Lynchburg service started but I am not quite sure.

Anyway, here is the cleaned up and fixed up one which highlights the primary connections.
 

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TheTuck

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I'm not seeing all the PDF links returned yet. It seems the routes which have not recently changed day frequency have returned. (Cardinal, Sunset, Auto Train).
 

Cal

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Wow, they must have just restored those, because I checked yesterday or the day before, and the schedules were not there. Maybe all of our complaining actually had an effect!
Still no timetables for almost every LD route.
 

niemi24s

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I certainly wish folks would specify which timetables or schedules from Amtrak they're referring to when saying something like "Still no timetables for almost every LD route."

• Timetables are indeed available for every LD route, but they are the older, some outdated, pre-Covid daily timetables available here: Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes Please note the aemtest in the URL. That must be present in order to access those older timetables - only two of which I know to be grossly out of whack with what's in Arrow (Crescent and NER 66 & 67)

• On the other hand CURRENT, up-to-date timetables (at least in the style we've grown to love and cherish) and that MAY agree with what's in Arrow do exist for three LD trains (AT, Cardinal & SL) are available here: Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes Note the absence of aemtest in the URL. Timetables for the twelve other LD trains are not available there.

All this begs the question of whether any of those older, pre-Covid timetables still show what's currently in Arrow and are therefore the current ones.
 

me_little_me

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I certainly wish folks would specify which timetables or schedules from Amtrak they're referring to when saying something like "Still no timetables for almost every LD route."

• Timetables are indeed available for every LD route, but they are the older, some outdated, pre-Covid daily timetables available here: Amtrak Tickets, Schedules and Train Routes Please note the aemtest in the URL. That must be present in order to access those older timetables - only two of which I know to be grossly out of whack with what's in Arrow (Crescent and NER 66 & 67)
When something is "available" only when using the secret decoder ring, it is NOT available.
 

neroden

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By carefully trying to use those Thruways in test bookings. Quite tedious.

I was left wondering if it happens that Amtrak starts a Thruway, the Timetable folks screw up so that no one uses it since the schedule builder does not show any itinerary using it. So then Amtrak discontinues the service as a failure due to lack of ridership. Could happen to new trains too, given how goofy the schedule builder at present is.
I fully expect that this is happening and this is why I am completely disgusted with Amtrak management.

Anyhow, two Thruway services from the past seem to have disappeared. One is the Thruway connection from/to the Crescent to/From RVR, and the other is an oddball Thruway that used to exist between Washington DC and Charlottesville. I suspect this one disappeared when the Lynchburg service started but I am not quite sure.

Anyway, here is the cleaned up and fixed up one which highlights the primary connections.
It's quite a complicated timetable, isn't it? I am trying to think about how it could be presented better to make the available options clearer. Obviously the map helps. But I think what's making it hard to follow is the combination of the routes on the Atlantic Coast with the routes on the Crescent route -- I realize the Carolinian, Piedmont, and some Thruway services criss-cross.

Can you possibly upload this as an Excel file so I can play with the data presentation? I'd like to try a few things.
 

Willbridge

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By carefully trying to use those Thruways in test bookings. Quite tedious.

I was left wondering if it happens that Amtrak starts a Thruway, the Timetable folks screw up so that no one uses it since the schedule builder does not show any itinerary using it. So then Amtrak discontinues the service as a failure due to lack of ridership. Could happen to new trains too, given how goofy the schedule builder at present is.

Anyhow, two Thruway services from the past seem to have disappeared. One is the Thruway connection from/to the Crescent to/From RVR, and the other is an oddball Thruway that used to exist between Washington DC and Charlottesville. I suspect this one disappeared when the Lynchburg service started but I am not quite sure.

Anyway, here is the cleaned up and fixed up one which highlights the primary connections.
You've run across a great Amtrak tradition: not making information on new services available till well after they've started up. I've been going through my old Rail Travel News issues to follow development of the Pioneer. For the first year of what was supposed to be a two-year test they were routing people around it, even if it took an overnight layover to avoid the new train.

1977 10 RTN2 Deny Pioneer002.jpg
 
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[snip]

There are rumors that the mythical bus between Ithaca and Syracuse, for which timetables are not published, starts south of Ithaca. I have no idea how I'd find out where it actually starts, because there's no timetable. Effectively, it doesn't exist south of Ithaca even once you've discovered that it runs from Ithaca to Syracuse.

This is anti-marketing: it's driving customers away. The core element of marketing is making people aware that your product is an option, and that's what timetables do.
Timetables, at the end of the day, are addressing an every shrinking percentage of ridership for any mode of transport be it bus, train or (long since gone) airplane.

Online booking tools via proprietary websites (e.g, Amtrak), or via third party aggregators or OTAs drive the bulk of booking activity along with search and explore visits. Why? Because these tools can provide multiple modes between locations and offer additional services and attributes that may be purchasable.

As for your “vapor bus” between Ithaca and Syracuse and your assertion that it’s “unfindable”… a 5 second google search for “Ithaca to Syracuse bus” provided a wide range of links to various sources of that information. Let’s look at www.wanderu.com
as the source, for example. Not only does it show the nonstop bus at mid-day, but it also provides multiple connecting itineraries.

Now, let’s extend this to a rail perspective given this is Amtraktrains.com and not buses.com. For example, NOL-ATL On July 14. Well, wanderu provides a range of options for me - how convenient. It lists:
Amtrak listed first (which tells me they are buying an elevated display from Wanderu)
Greyhound - three buses At 9:15AM, 12:55PM and 9:00PM.

Let’s look at another example quickly - Atlanta to WAS on 7/14. The result is dozens of options - multiple bus lines of various flavors from Greyhound through to ”Chinatown bus” operators. Wanderu also develops connections that maximize connectivity. How so? Well, it provides a connecting itinerary of Southeastern Stages Atlanta-Florence SC, connecting to The Palmetto. Now, is this a guaranteed connection like a Thruway service? No. But the point to be illustrated here is that OTAs like Wanderu are how surface transit is being booked today and will continue in the future.
 

MARC Rider

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Timetables, at the end of the day, are addressing an every shrinking percentage of ridership for any mode of transport be it bus, train or (long since gone) airplane.

Online booking tools via proprietary websites (e.g, Amtrak), or via third party aggregators or OTAs drive the bulk of booking activity along with search and explore visits. Why? Because these tools can provide multiple modes between locations and offer additional services and attributes that may be purchasable.

As for your “vapor bus” between Ithaca and Syracuse and your assertion that it’s “unfindable”… a 5 second google search for “Ithaca to Syracuse bus” provided a wide range of links to various sources of that information. Let’s look at www.wanderu.com
as the source, for example. Not only does it show the nonstop bus at mid-day, but it also provides multiple connecting itineraries.

Now, let’s extend this to a rail perspective given this is Amtraktrains.com and not buses.com. For example, NOL-ATL On July 14. Well, wanderu provides a range of options for me - how convenient. It lists:
Amtrak listed first (which tells me they are buying an elevated display from Wanderu)
Greyhound - three buses At 9:15AM, 12:55PM and 9:00PM.

Let’s look at another example quickly - Atlanta to WAS on 7/14. The result is dozens of options - multiple bus lines of various flavors from Greyhound through to ”Chinatown bus” operators. Wanderu also develops connections that maximize connectivity. How so? Well, it provides a connecting itinerary of Southeastern Stages Atlanta-Florence SC, connecting to The Palmetto. Now, is this a guaranteed connection like a Thruway service? No. But the point to be illustrated here is that OTAs like Wanderu are how surface transit is being booked today and will continue in the future.
I checked out this website and wasn't very impressed.

What I did was look up travel between Baltimore and Philadelphia. The first screen returned is sorted by "recommended," which lists departures all out of temporal order and is useless for determining the most practical choice for this trip. It was easy enough to change the sort to "earliest," but then they started including weird stuff, like a routing form the BWI Rail station to Pennsauken, or one that involves taking the train (which stops in Philadelphia) to New York Penn, then walk across Manhattan to a bus stop and take a bus back to Philadelphia. It really needs to be cleaned up.

I had a similar issue when I tried a Google maps routing between Boston and Albany for "transit." It recommended that I take an MBTA train from South Station to Worcester and then connect to 449, the Lakeshore Limited. Of course 449 starts in South Station, too, and Google's recommended routing takes over an hour longer than just catching 449 in South Station. But no matter how much I tweaked my input, I couldn't get Google Maps to admit that the Boston section of the Lakeshore Limited serves Boston.
 
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You've run across a great Amtrak tradition: not making information on new services available till well after they've started up. I've been going through my old Rail Travel News issues to follow development of the Pioneer. For the first year of what was supposed to be a two-year test they were routing people around it, even if it took an overnight layover to avoid the new train.

View attachment 23254
Thanks for that snippet from "RTN"! I had forgotten that when I first started with Amtrak, we were still using ARTS for reservations and ticketing... :)
 

jis

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A well presented GUI on a search engine with advanced search specification features will quite often beat a printed timetable. Unfortunately, most of the current search engines lack in the versatility of their human interface, and this makes them clunky but usable in most cases. The 80-20 principle tends to limit the natural forces towards further innovation, but I am confident it will happen eventually. Heck I don't think it is that hard to produce a human interface that has a mode for presenting the information with a printable timetable look and feel. The question is how does one go about specifying which outcomes of a search to include and which not.

The current search engines often comes up with absurd routing and has no clue that it is absurd. Example routing from Washington DC to Charlottesville, for example includes Washington DC - bus -> New York - Amtrak Regional -> Charlottesville. Until the search engines become knowledgeable enough to realize that that choice is silly, they will remain clunky. The current ones do a simple graph traversal and present it without intelligently trimming the subgraph based on well known heuristics. There is quite an opportunity to simply work the subgraph trimming problem, even leaving the actual presentation aside for the time being.
 
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The current search engines often comes up with absurd routing and has no clue that it is absurd. Example routing from Washington DC to Charlottesville, for example includes Washington DC - bus -> New York - Amtrak Regional -> Charlottesville
That is how Greyhound's "TRIPS" system is programmed...make a sale, regardless of how ridiculous the routing. For example, if one searched for service from say, New York to Richmond, the first choice would be whether from the Penn Station stop on 34th street, or the Port Authority Bus Terminal (alphabetic order). If someone thought "Penn Station sounds convenient", instead of being told no direct service, choose another (Port Authority), they would be routed on a once-a-day trip that stopped at Penn Station to Binghamton (enroute to Buffalo), and change there for a trip back to the Port Authority terminal, thence a connection on to Richmond. Yes. True. Travel an unnecessary 360 some odd miles instead of going 6 blocks away.
 

jis

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Beware, that the route timetable displayed on the Schedule page on amtrak.com when you click on the "Details" button for a train is not always correct. For example, the Crescent Details on weekdays displays the weekend timetable!

That website still continues to baffle me as to the level of incompetence involved in putting it together such as it is.
 
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Beware, that the route timetable displayed on the Schedule page on amtrak.com when you click on the "Details" button for a train is not always correct. For example, the Crescent Details on weekdays displays the weekend timetable!

That website still continues to baffle me as to the level of incompetence involved in putting it together such as it is.
It makes me wonder if someone not dedicated to the job, is handed the assignment by their boss as an 'extra' duty, and they just do a sloppy and quick job of it...🤷‍♂️
 

neroden

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It makes me wonder if someone not dedicated to the job, is handed the assignment by their boss as an 'extra' duty, and they just do a sloppy and quick job of it...🤷‍♂️
Bet on it. Amtrak's IT department is known to have lots of vacancies. They are clearly not offering appropriate salaries for the jobs.
 

neroden

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As for your “vapor bus” between Ithaca and Syracuse and your assertion that it’s “unfindable”… a 5 second google search for “Ithaca to Syracuse bus” provided a wide range of links to various sources of that information. Let’s look at www.wanderu.com
as the source, for example. Not only does it show the nonstop bus at mid-day,
WHOOPS! You found the OurBus bus. That's not the one I'm talking about; that one was introduced in the last couple of years, partly in response to frustration with Trailways. OurBus has a published timetable, by the way.

I was talking about the unfindable, "vapour bus" Trailways Bus which runs from Ithaca to Syracuse via Cortland (with no change of bus). Which was around long before OurBus was formed as a company -- but for the last decade or so, has had no published timetable. You didn't find it, which proves my point. It's unfindable even with that search engine. (And it starts south of Ithaca, according to rumor. Where does it start from? Who knows?)

Thanks for proving my point. Apologies will be accepted.
 
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Willbridge

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WHOOPS! You found the OurBus bus. That's not the one I'm talking about; that one was introduced in the last couple of years, partly in response to frustration with Trailways. OurBus has a published timetable, by the way.

I was talking about the unfindable, "vapour bus" Trailways Bus which runs from Ithaca to Syracuse via Cortland (with no change of bus). Which was around long before OurBus was formed as a company -- but for the last decade or so, has had no published timetable. You didn't find it, which proves my point. It's unfindable even with that search engine. (And it starts south of Ithaca, according to rumor. Where does it start from? Who knows?)

Thanks for proving my point. Apologies will be accepted.
I checked my handy August 1974 55mph Official Bus Guide and it shows Greyhound 3x daily between Ithaca and Syracuse. Two trips from Corning through Elmira and one trip from Elmira. In December 1987 the same GL service was in place PLUS a Friday Only Syracuse<>Ithaca turn. In November 1997 the route was run by New York Trailways with one round-trip plus that Friday Only turn.

Sorry I can't pin down when GL passed the route on to NYT but in that decade there were a lot of systemic effects on the intercity bus network and on Amtrak, too. Greyhound absorbed the Continental Trailways network and handed out various routes to smaller Trailways members who had lost CTS connections. They had a 38-month long strike. They went into bankruptcy.

Note that this analysis is made possible by a technology called "printed timetables". In the future we'll be able to make up any facts that suit us because so much is lost in the airline style web information.
 

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