USA Rail Pass Now Bookable Online - Only $299 through 6/22

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jebr

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It looks like the USA Rail Pass is now available online, with segments being able to be booked online as well instead of needing paper tickets - definitely an improvement! Currently the only pass available seems to be a 10 segment, 30 day pass - normally $499, but on sale for $299 until June 22, 2021. Might be a good deal for people able/willing to travel in coach and wanting to see the country on the cheap!
 

Sidney

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Wow! Another positive move from Amtrak. I remember paying $429 for an eight segment 15 day pass four years ago. I'm going to do this. Probably break it up into two trips,being there is 30 days. With a little planning you can avoid overnight Coach travel by carefully planning trips with hotels close to the station. Always fun to plan and you can always upgrade to a sleeper,if you desire.
 

jebr

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and you can always upgrade to a sleeper, if you desire.
It appears that they're not allowing that currently. From the FAQ:
USA Rail Pass is available for travel in Coach class, featuring wide, reclining seats with a big picture window, ample legroom, and no middle seat. Upgrades to Business Class and private room accommodations are not available at this time.
I'm not sure if it's a limitation of the current implementation, or if they're not wanting people to use it as a cheap way to pay the rail fare. There's also a lot of things where the implementation of things is different than what the T&C and other official verbiage states.
 

daybeers

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So I'm glad they brought it back, but we knew things were going to be different. The 15 day/8 segment pass for $459 ($57.38/segment) is gone, as well as the 45 day/18 segment pass for $899 ($49.94/segment). The 30 day pass used to be $689 for 12 segments ($57.42/segment) and is now $499 for 10 segments ($49.90/segment) or the sale price of $299 which is $29.90 per segment. The sale is great.

While the Rail Pass FAQ does say what jebr quoted above, the terms and conditions page says:
The USA Rail Pass entitles you to travel in regular Coach class seats. On some trains, you can upgrade your Coach seat to Business class or Sleeping Car accommodations for the appropriate surcharge.
I don't remember if the terms & conditions page said that before today or if that is new. Who knows which is correct.
 

jis

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So I'm glad they brought it back, but we knew things were going to be different. The 15 day/8 segment pass for $459 ($57.38/segment) is gone, as well as the 45 day/18 segment pass for $899 ($49.94/segment). The 30 day pass used to be $689 for 12 segments ($57.42/segment) and is now $499 for 10 segments ($49.90/segment) or the sale price of $299 which is $29.90 per segment. The sale is great.

While the Rail Pass FAQ does say what jebr quoted above, the terms and conditions page says:

I don't remember if the terms & conditions page said that before today or if that is new. Who knows which is correct.
Well it says "on some trains" without specifying which trains. It is entirely conceivable that they can use their right to restrict to make the set of trains where upgrade is allowed to be the null set I suppose. So when they say no upgrade is allowed at this time they are not inconsistent with the Terms and Conditions.
 

Bob Dylan

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It looks like the USA Rail Pass is now available online, with segments being able to be booked online as well instead of needing paper tickets - definitely an improvement! Currently the only pass available seems to be a 10 segment, 30 day pass - normally $499, but on sale for $299 until June 22, 2021. Might be a good deal for people able/willing to travel in coach and wanting to see the country on the cheap!
Almost like the old days, that's a Deal if you can take many nights in Coach.( I could when I wore a Younger Man's Clothes)😎

Being able to book on-line is really good also,😊 but not being able to Upgrade on " Some Trains" is a Negative.😬
 

NEPATrainTraveler

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Great to see the Rail Pass is back. If I wasn't doing my October convention trip this year, I would probably do a Rail Pass journey. Would be great for a trip around the Northeast. A bargain if going cross country, if you don't mind many nights in coach. Not being able to upgrade is a bummer.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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How far in the future can the travel be booked for? The FAQ section on the Rail Pass page describes the validity period as 120 days but the Terms and Conditions link mentions that travel must be completed within 330 days from the date of issue of the paper pass. I'm thinking the 330 days is probably from the old pass and hasn't been updated, but I would have thought the Terms and Conditions would be a better reflection of the official policy than the FAQ.
 

City of Miami

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With a little planning you can avoid overnight Coach travel by carefully planning trips with hotels close to the station.
How would that work? Almost all routes have one train per day which will be at the same time. You would have to be switching to another route which really limits possibilities. I can't think of any opportunities offhand to maintain forward travel and avoid overnights in coach. Maybe ATL to SAS to DAL.
 
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railiner

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It appears that they're not allowing that currently. From the FAQ:


I'm not sure if it's a limitation of the current implementation, or if they're not wanting people to use it as a cheap way to pay the rail fare. There's also a lot of things where the implementation of things is different than what the T&C and other official verbiage states.
IIRC, they used to allow upgrades, but only within 24 hours of departure. That way they saved the rooms for full fare revenue, but permitted upgrades if space was still unsold...
 

Sidney

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How would that work? Almost all routes have one train per day which will be at the same time. You would have to be switching to another route which really limits possibilities. I can't think of any opportunities offhand to maintain forward travel and avoid overnights in coach. Maybe ATL to SAS to DAL.
You can avoid overnights by using routes with two trains a day. As you said,that limits the choices,but it can be done.
 

Barb Stout

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How far in the future can the travel be booked for? The FAQ section on the Rail Pass page describes the validity period as 120 days but the Terms and Conditions link mentions that travel must be completed within 330 days from the date of issue of the paper pass. I'm thinking the 330 days is probably from the old pass and hasn't been updated, but I would have thought the Terms and Conditions would be a better reflection of the official policy than the FAQ.
The 330 day thing, as well as the 180 day thing, is for passes purchased before May 2021. Those rules are separated from the June and on rules by indentation. I am particularly disappointed by the change from 180 to 120 days for the difference between time of purchase and the time of first travel segment. I had several segments picked out already for a travel circle in December and would have saved $400 with a USA Rail Pass sale, but with the regular 30 USA Rail Pass sale, it comes out to about the same price as without a Rail Pass at all.
 

SubwayNut

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The most obvious trip to me that can be made without an overnight in coach (by stopping for the night in For example Savannah) is the Northeast to Florida by taking the Palmetto from the Northeast to Savannah and then picking up the Silver Star or Meteor after it's overnight.

A trip that I've wanted to make (once the border reopens) but never quite got the chance to make was daylight (you would have to spend the night en-route in southern Ontario) from New York to Chicago via the Maple Leaf to the Via Corridor to Windsor, ON tunnel bus to Detroit and Wolverine into Chicago.
 

Sidney

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I have a trip coming up in September. Coach Mrb-Chi.,Roomette Chi-Sea,Roomette Sea-Sac and Coach Sac to Rno. I planned to fly from there to BWI and take the train back to Mrb. When I saw this deal,I booked Rno to Grand JunctionOvernight, then Mt. Pleasant overnight and back to Mrb.I could handle one overnight in Coach with motels to break the trip.

With seven segments left,I rebooked my flight from BWI to Lax for late August and am taking the SW Chief to Las Vegas NM overnight,then Ft Madison,overnight,up to Chi,down to New Orleans on the CONO,overnight,Crescent to Birmingham(happy about departure at 9 instead of 7AM) overnight,then Manassas overnight and back to BWI.

At 72,my overnight coach trips are a thing of the past,but with this deal I thought I'd give it one more shot. I avoided the TE because of the lack of a SSL car. Motels are within a mile of each station and run from $70 to $90.

Anybody here taking advantage of the $299 rail pass?
 

Michigan Mom

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How would that work? Almost all routes have one train per day which will be at the same time. You would have to be switching to another route which really limits possibilities. I can't think of any opportunities offhand to maintain forward travel and avoid overnights in coach. Maybe ATL to SAS to DAL.
I've also looked for possibilities (although, not recently) and would be interested to know of any examples where this could work. Maybe some combo of bus/rail?
 

City of Miami

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The most obvious trip to me that can be made without an overnight in coach (by stopping for the night in For example Savannah) is the Northeast to Florida by taking the Palmetto from the Northeast to Savannah and then picking up the Silver Star or Meteor after it's overnight.
I considered this one too - and rejected it. The SAV station is in a desolate area with no accommodation anywhere near. The Palmetto is very often late so it would be a very short night to get the Silver next morning. The trouble with the Silvers is they run only ~3 hours apart, if on time.
 

caravanman

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In the old days, one could upgrade to a sleeper by paying just the sleeper price, the pass covered the low bucket coach seats price element of the sleeper fare. I think the pass only covered coach seats where the lowest fare bucket seat was available, one had to pay extra to travel if coach seats on your desired train were in a higher bucket than the lowest.
Dunno what any new rules and regs might be under the current system...
 

Barb Stout

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I've also looked for possibilities (although, not recently) and would be interested to know of any examples where this could work. Maybe some combo of bus/rail?
Hmm, bus. Would the Amtrak bus be a part of the Rail Pass? If so, I suppose it would be a separate segment. I have only taken the "Amtrak bus" once from Bakersfield to LA.
 

railiner

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Hmm, bus. Would the Amtrak bus be a part of the Rail Pass? If so, I suppose it would be a separate segment. I have only taken the "Amtrak bus" once from Bakersfield to LA.
Not sure of how it works currently, but IIRC, if it was an Amtrak exclusive chartered Thruway bus (like Bakersfield-Los Angeles, it was included under the Rail Pass, but if it was a publicly scheduled Thruway bus, like Denver to Raton, it wasn't. Not sure. Nor do I know if it counted as a separate segment. I don't think it should if you made a direct connection....
 

jebr

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Not sure of how it works currently, but IIRC, if it was an Amtrak exclusive chartered Thruway bus (like Bakersfield-Los Angeles, it was included under the Rail Pass, but if it was a publicly scheduled Thruway bus, like Denver to Raton, it wasn't. Not sure. Nor do I know if it counted as a separate segment. I don't think it should if you made a direct connection....
It would count as a segment (any transfer, even from rail to bus, starts a new segment.) That said, most buses would be included - the only ones excluded are the 7xxx-numbered ones. Most of the ones on Greyhound and smaller bus companies like Jefferson Lines appear to qualify, along with the ferry service I checked in Washington state. The only one I could find that didn't qualify (was a 7xxx-series schedule) was the NJ Transit tickets to Atlantic City. That's pretty easy to buy separately, and the only reason I could see someone wanting to book that with a rail pass is if they had extra segments they weren't otherwise planning on using. A ticket direct from NJ Transit is only $10.75, and there's no penalty for a last-minute booking (unlike the bus companies, where the flexibility afforded with the new rail pass may be worth using a segment even if an advanced-purchase ticket would make the segment worth saving.)
 

Barb Stout

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I started a couple of test bookings to see other places where I could take a train/bus combination with the first one being to Columbus OH, but that didn't work in the Trip Planner section even though Columbus is listed as a station. Then, knowing for a fact about the Bakersfield to LA bus, I tried Oakland to Needles and it gave me three options which upon first study appeared identical. Upon further analysis, the difference was the bus number: 5710, 5810, 5910 even though all three leave Bakersfield at the same time and arrived in LA at the same time. So they usually have enough people on that 2 pm time slot between Bakersfield to LA to schedule 3 buses or is there some difference between the 3 buses? I suppose one is expected to pick the first combination that comes up on the list of the Trip Planner page?
 

Michigan Mom

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There's a separate, relatively recent thread on corridors, so I won't duplicate the discussion here, except to say that this REALLY brings up the need for more and better corridor services. Whatever political steps need to be taken, it should be a nonpartisan, Fed-State cooperation and they just need to get this done.
 

sechs

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Upon further analysis, the difference was the bus number: 5710, 5810, 5910 even though all three leave Bakersfield at the same time and arrived in LA at the same time. So they usually have enough people on that 2 pm time slot between Bakersfield to LA to schedule 3 buses or is there some difference between the 3 buses?
The three buses likely make different intermediate stops. Especially during the summer, there are a lot of people connecting between the Central Valley and the LA basin.

If there are enough passengers, they'll divvy up the stops onto more buses and run one or more express buses, straight to LAUS. In my experience, it doesn't matter what you book as long as you have a ticket for a stop that the bus makes. Unless you're making a connection, which will generally get you onto the bus that should get to LA first.
 
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