What should Amtrak change?

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As far as the "last mile" problem, airports have the same problem, and it's even worse than trains, as airports are generally not located very close to anything else, except maybe some hotels that cater to air travelers and business space that is related to the aerospace industry. Nearly every town of reasonable size that I've ridden to in Amtrak has either taxicabs or Uber/Lyft at the very least, which pretty much solves the problem. (And a ride share to the Amtrak station is about $20 as opposed to $50-$60 for a ride to the airport.) I had no trouble finding an Uber at Salisbury NC to take me top Spencer to see the NC Transportation Museum, and I had no problem ding a ride back to Salisbury to catch my train. Yes, there are very small towns that don't have anything (Hello, Huntingdon, PA!), but that applies to all forms of transportations. If you live in rural America and can't drive and don't have someone to give you rides, you're out of luck, but I don't think funding access to a few Amtrak trains in a few such places is a high priority.
I generally agree, but the one issue with this argument is that the "last mile" matters more when you've been on an 8-20 hour train ride as opposed to a 1-5hr flight.
 

TheCrescent

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This is an interesting development and new for Amtrak...

I would think that letting Amtrak handle dispatching would be something that freight railroads would try to avoid at all costs.

If I were Norfolk Southern, I’d be really concerned, and I’d think that eliminating Amtrak from my lines would be something to try for.
 
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OK, I can see better wifi, that should be pretty easy to do.

As far as the "last mile" problem, airports have the same problem, and it's even worse than trains, as airports are generally not located very close to anything else, except maybe some hotels that cater to air travelers and business space that is related to the aerospace industry. Nearly every town of reasonable size that I've ridden to in Amtrak has either taxicabs or Uber/Lyft at the very least, which pretty much solves the problem. (And a ride share to the Amtrak station is about $20 as opposed to $50-$60 for a ride to the airport.) I had no trouble finding an Uber at Salisbury NC to take me top Spencer to see the NC Transportation Museum, and I had no problem ding a ride back to Salisbury to catch my train. Yes, there are very small towns that don't have anything (Hello, Huntingdon, PA!), but that applies to all forms of transportations.

My apologies, I was using a term without defining it. And interpreted literally, it doesn't make much sense, because of course being able to travel a mile is not a problem.
I was also not thinking about long distance routes, because obviously the added expense and time of getting 10 or 20 or even 50 miles to a train station is not a problem if someone is going to be going 1000 miles. I mostly take trains in medium-range corridor service, on the Amtrak Cascades (at least, lately...). My experience is that these trains are very efficient, on the cities on the corridor, but that it is difficult to get to cities more than about 5-10 miles from a train station.
Also, in this case, the expense of a Uber or Lyft (which, I have to admit, I have never used either of those and the idea still seems very weird to me) is going to be equal to the cost of a train ticket. Going from Seattle to Portland costs around 22 dollars. But if you are going from Seattle to Sandy, Oregon and have to either pay for a 30 mile Uber ride or try to take transit between downtown Portland and Sandy, then it makes more sense just to drive from Seattle in the first place.
This is me drawing from my own experience with rail transit, in a particular place and situation, it might not apply to everyone, or even to most riders.
 

TheCrescent

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I like Lyft and take it pretty regularly.

Amtrak should do a tie-in like Brightline does and at least put a Lyft or Uber logo up at train stations to indicate a pick-up point. That would at least show people that getting to and from the train station is easy.

Since rental cars aren’t available at so many train stations, that alone surely costs Amtrak some business.
 

west point

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Wi-Fi is not available where ay locations do not have cell service or band width is arrow so not many can use cell at same time. Compare how many antennas on towers of cities vs. the boonies. Even in my state there are dead areas of 10 - 15 miles.
 
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Wi-Fi is not available where ay locations do not have cell service or band width is arrow so not many can use cell at same time. Compare how many antennas on towers of cities vs. the boonies. Even in my state there are dead areas of 10 - 15 miles.

Yes, I can understand how that would be a problem, like when I was at San Jose Diridon station, it makes sense that they didn't have wifi because it is a tiny town in an isolated location, and obviously San Jose is not a place where computer technology is very common.
 
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Yes, I can understand how that would be a problem, like when I was at San Jose Diridon station, it makes sense that they didn't have wifi because it is a tiny town in an isolated location, and obviously San Jose is not a place where computer technology is very common.
San Jose Diridon is owned by Caltrain*, so of course Amtrak should spend money installing wifi there. (Sarcasm, thrust! Sarcasm, parry!)

*Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, technically.
 
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San Jose Diridon is owned by Caltrain*, so of course Amtrak should spend money installing wifi there. (Sarcasm, thrust! Sarcasm, parry!)

*Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, technically.

The person was saying that Amtrak stations couldn't have service because some of them were in the "boonies", not that they couldn't get service because Amtrak might not want to pay for wifi service because they didn't own the stations.
Wifi was an example. That particular station was an example of an example.
My main point was that doing something like having easy wifi in every station---something that has been normal for pretty much every motel, restaurant, library, or grocery store for almost 10 years (and yes, if anyone pedantically wants to tell me that "well, actually, Kroger only started offering wifi in store in 2016, which is actually only 6 years ago", congratulations on missing the point, you should take up fencing). The idea that Amtrak stations are too isolated in "the boonies" to have wifi is a ridiculous argument. Yes, maybe that is true of a few stations, but if a town's library has wifi, then its Amtrak station can too.
Beyond that, my overall point was that incremental improvements in facilities are easy, including things like wifi, but also more power outlets in stations, more and better drinking fountains in stations, fixing bathrooms in stations, perhaps renovations like automatic doors, as well as just making sure onboard train things like having easy access to drinking water onboard trains. Maybe these things are not totally easy, but it is still easier to put a wifi router up in a train station then for Amtrak to get its own tracks.
 

5280 Guy

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I only started riding the train a few years ago, so I am new to the joke that is Amtrak. It's hard to imagine people who rely on it.

I live in Denver and like to go up to Glenwood Springs, CO a few times a year. Sometimes I drove the 160 miles and sometimes I booked a room on Amtrak. I used to pay around $300 each way. Pricey, but worth it to avoid the drive. When I recently heard that congress had awarded Amtrak $50 billion or so, I knew bad things were coming.
Sure enough, when I looked that the prices they were $500+ each way, so I drove to Glenwood.

Yesterday I thought I'd watch the 12:10 PM eastbound train to Chicago come through. It actually arrived at 9:00 PM and left at 9:33! (On-time for Amtrak, I guess). If I had booked my return trip on Amtrak I would have arrived in Denver at 3 AM and missed both included meals. All that for $1000. For that kind of money I should receive first class service. Of course I wouldn't have.

Our national railroad, Amtrak, is a national embarrassment and I don't think it will ever be fixed. The people of Burundi would be ashamed of such a railroad.
 

zephyr17

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Welcome to the world of Precision Scheduled Railroading which is neither precise, nor scheduled. What it is is a way for the railroad, in this case UP, to reduce crew starts by running trains too long to fit into sidings, thereby improving their operating ratio while snarling up the railroad itself.

The railroads are days or even weeks late delivering their own freight under PSR operating plans, but it improves short term profits. It had gotten so bad that shippers are complaining and the STB recently held hearings, and is requiring railroads to submit "improvement" plans.

Amtrak OTP is collateral damage.
 
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I only started riding the train a few years ago, so I am new to the joke that is Amtrak. It's hard to imagine people who rely on it.

I live in Denver and like to go up to Glenwood Springs, CO a few times a year. Sometimes I drove the 160 miles and sometimes I booked a room on Amtrak. I used to pay around $300 each way. Pricey, but worth it to avoid the drive. When I recently heard that congress had awarded Amtrak $50 billion or so, I knew bad things were coming.
Sure enough, when I looked that the prices they were $500+ each way, so I drove to Glenwood.

Yesterday I thought I'd watch the 12:10 PM eastbound train to Chicago come through. It actually arrived at 9:00 PM and left at 9:33! (On-time for Amtrak, I guess). If I had booked my return trip on Amtrak I would have arrived in Denver at 3 AM and missed both included meals. All that for $1000. For that kind of money I should receive first class service. Of course I wouldn't have.

Our national railroad, Amtrak, is a national embarrassment and I don't think it will ever be fixed. The people of Burundi would be ashamed of such a railroad.
Its hard to disagree with any of what you are saying, but in all fairness and accuracy, a distinction needs to be made between the Northeast Corridor and all other Amtrak routes.

NE Regionals and Acelas are a different world from the rest of the country. While they might not be up to snuff on international standards, those routes do run in a predictable and reliable way, with reasonable rolling stock and frequency.

Of course, Amtrak outside of the NEC (and maybe 2-3 other select corridors), is indeed a national embarrassment.
 

west point

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NE Regionals and Acelas are a different world from the rest of the country. While they might not be up to snuff on international standards, those routes do run in a predictable and reliable way, with reasonable rolling stock and frequency.
It may be that the NEC runs better because each dispatcher handles fewer problem trains and track outages. Some of the class 1s have one dispatcher covering as many miles as the whole NYP - WASH distances. How many dispatch districts does Amtrak have? Maybe as many as 6 during high traffic times?
 
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Its hard to disagree with any of what you are saying, but in all fairness and accuracy, a distinction needs to be made between the Northeast Corridor and all other Amtrak routes.

NE Regionals and Acelas are a different world from the rest of the country. While they might not be up to snuff on international standards, those routes do run in a predictable and reliable way, with reasonable rolling stock and frequency.

Of course, Amtrak outside of the NEC (and maybe 2-3 other select corridors), is indeed a national embarrassment.
Hmm, there might be more than 2-3 other select corridors, but I haven't ridden on many outside the Northeast to get asense of hopw well things work. But things seems to work pretty well on:

1 -the NEC
2- Keystone
3- Empire
4-Hartford-Springfield
5- Piedmont

Virginia service (Washington-Richmond-Norfolk/Newport News and the Roanoaker) seem to be pretty reliable, but they seem to have meltdowns occasionally, and I "enjoyed" a meltdown in Virginia on the Carolinian once. Perhaps this will change as Virginia takes over the rail lines. I've also had good experiences with the Palmetto.

I don't know how reliable the Midwest corridors are, but I've had good experience with the Hiawatha Service.

The Pacific Surfliner and Capitol Corridor service in California seem to be pretty reliable. I've never been on the San Joaquins or the Cascades, so I can't speak to them.

The real problems with reliability seems to the long-distance trains.
 

zephyr17

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Curious to know how you think these two are correlated. As far as I know, they aren't.
Well, the same guy that awhile ago complained when he spent $800 on a roomette to ride between Denver and Glenwood Springs. So he clearly thinks money confers wizardly powers🙄
 
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They can have serious issues sometimes. At least the Surfline. Generally, they're mostly on time.
Actually, the NEC can have serious issues, too. One time something took down catenary in New Jersey. Our train to New York that was supposed to get in at 8:30 PM didn't arrive until 3 AM. Another time an HHP-8 locomotive on 67 decided to have a software malfunction between Route 128 and Providence. They had to transfer us using bridge plates to the last northbound train of the evening and made us wait in the closed for the evening South Station (on hard metal seats) until they could drag the 67 consist back to Boston and attach a more reliable locomotive. I think that was a 4 hour delay. On another trip on 67, we conked out between Philadelphia and Wilmington and they put us on a SEPTA train to take us into Wilmington, where we waited for the next southbound Northeast Regional to take us further. I'm not sure what the people going to Virginia did. Oh yes, and then there was the time we were heading north out of New Carrolton when they discovered the horn didn't work. So they backed us all the way back to Washington at about 10 mph where we waited until they could get a new locomotive for us. I should have waited for the MARC train for that trip.

But, yeah, most NEC trains operate with 10-20 minutes of scheduled time. And, of course, if equipment goes sour, there's another train coming along an hour later, not to mention the commuter trains running on the line.
 
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