So I asked Amtrak (again)…
I received a similar email from Amtrak, but just enough different from the above to be noteworthy:
Have questions about Amtrak’s bike service? This is your chance to ask it!
Amtrak will hold an open house at the National Bike Summit, where Summit registrants can check out train cars with different types of bike accommodations (bring your bike!) and ask questions of Amtrak staff about bike access, specific routes and stations, and how to bring your bike on an Amtrak train.
If you will be at the Summit you can register here to attend the open House (and get a Amtrak Loves Bikes T-shirt) – https://nationalbikesummit2017.sched.com/
If you aren’t coming to the Summit you can submit your questions for Amtrak here- https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5TP3ZWT
Amtrak will give written answers to all questions and the League of American Bicyclists will publish answers on our blog. (for those asking questions, we can also send answers directly to your email if you provide it in the survey)
So ask your questions!! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5TP3ZWT
Trump is overflowing with horrible, damaging ideas. He seems bent on weakening America as quickly as possible.
“If the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to Amtrak are passed by Congress, Pittsburgh could lose one of its two passenger routes that goes through the city.
The budget, unveiled last week, calls for all long-distance trains to be eliminated so Amtrak can concentrate on improving the efficiency of its shorter-distance corridors. As part of that efficiency, The Capitol Limited, which goes from Washington to Chicago with a stop at the system’s Downtown station, would be eliminated.”
Amtrak needs to work on their trip planner now that they support RORO (roll on roll off) / WOBS (walk on bike service) / on many trains and boxed bike service on others.
I want to be able to use the trip planner to figure out how to get to NYC with a bike. My guess is that I will have to take the Capitol Limited to DC and catch one of 3 lines (out of like 10 options that don’t allow bikes or checked bags) on the northeast regional lines to get to NYC that actually support unboxed bike service.
However, the trip planner doesn’t give you that as a possible trip when using it as expected by entering PIT as start and NYC as destination. However, you can get it as a possible option if you do a multi-city trip and use DC as the first destination and NYC as a second destination and are willing to possibly have a long layover. It’s not easy to do or logical to figure out.
Would be nice to have a checkbox (traveling with bike?) that will give you end to end route options for boxing or rolling on bike.
Though, it could get complicated if you were traveling somewhere where you had to do walk on service on one line and transfer to another that did boxed bike service only or vice versa. Not sure how often that would be the case.
RORO and WOBS are to me, so much the same that the difference is insignificant. But the AMTRAK folks seem to care a lot about it. Near as I can tell, the difference is: RORO, they open the big exterior side hatch in the cargo car, and WOBS you walk the bike into the normal people entrance and walk it into the cargo bay.
But AMTRAK does really seem to care about the distinction.
Regarding future Amtrak funding, here’s an interesting conversation with Michael Dukakis. Jump to 4:00 in the audio for the Amtrak stuff (or read the transcript).
Living on Earth: A Blueprint for $1 Trillion Infrastructure Spending
“Amtrak is actually the national rail system which requires less subsidy than any other national rail system. Amtrak makes more of its money from the fare box than any other national rail passenger system in the world.
And yes, in point of fact, national rail gets subsidies, but think of the subsidies that highways get. … Right now, highways in America get something in excess of $40 billion dollars from the federal government every year. Air gets $16 billion. Amtrak is down to a few hundred million, and about 85 percent of its expenses are paid for by passengers and system revenue. That’s pretty remarkable, and I don’t think most people understand this.”
Regarding other train services with bike options: Indiana’s South Shore Line offers roll-on service on seven trains a day weekends and holidays; this year, the program is expanding to include two morning and evening rush-hour weekday trains.
Stops offering bike service include South Bend Airport, Dunes Park near the Indiana National Lakeshore, and a half-dozen stations in Chicago. Their website and schedule brochure (PDF) even helpfully list the trails near the relevant stations.
Already posted in the local news thread, just making sure it gets notated here as well.
“Additional rail service between Harrisburg, Pittsburgh under review”
Last month, Amtrak had a post on the Bike League’s blog on some of the equipment used for bike service on their trains, which also includes the incredible datapoint that “14,000 cyclists have ridden with their bikes in tow since fall 2016″….
It wold be nice if I didn’t have to be at the station at 5:00 AM in order to catch a train. If that ever happens, I could ride it to DC and bike back to Pittsburgh
Yeah, I know. What started this thread in the first place, seven years ago, was that eight years ago in 2009, I had looked into the idea of my wife and I taking our bikes on the train to Altoona for the day, to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary. We could have easily gotten downtown by 7am, hopped on a train for a couple hours, spent five or six hours chasing around Lakemont Park, then bike back to the train station for the trip back home, and be in our beds by a reasonable time. Couldn’t do it then, can’t do it still. So the 2010 request triggered the “(again)” part of this thread.
Now the whole idea of having a national train system at all seems, at times, to be in jeopardy.
I started a Twitter thread. Question: Using my non-folding road bike, can I beat a Crush The Commonwealth rider using an Amtrak train?
#CrushTheCommonwealth2019 is an informal bike race from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. No support (van with supplies) & ride on public roads (much of the ~350 miles). It’s been done in < 30 hours; 40-50 typical. But I have an ?
— Stuart Strickland (@bus15237) March 12, 2019
There is one eastbound train daily. It leaves a bit after 7am. I’ve taken it. It’s supposed to take about seven hours. That one time, in May 2008, it was closer to nine. This blog post documents the experience.
My point is that, one way or another, there’s a decent chance the CtC riders would beat me across the state. I should get there around evening rush hour.
I’m not following you here. They leave, what, at 5 am and it takes them at least 24 hours. At least from Philly to Pittsburgh it “only” takes, at the most, 10 hours, so you should be there via Amtrak well before. See the screen shot.
And pit to phl is same:
The DC train would be a tough call for a 5:20 departure, given the riders aren’t even out of Point State Park much before 5:10. So, I’m looking at being able to box a bike in two hours for the 7:30 train. Not impossible, but any delay puts that in jeopardy.
If I can obtain a folding bike between now and CtC, I might try traveling across the state that way. I have a second use for a foldie/Amtrak trip in May. If it works well enough, maybe I can get my wife to try one, too, which if successful, brings us full circle to the first post on this thread. We wanted to go to Lakemont Park in Altoona for the day. That’s what started this whole inquiry.
You had asked about this on FB. Boxing up the bike should be no problem. The boxes are huge and require minimal modification. The real question is, Do they allow bikes on the Pennsylvanian train? Last I checked into it, they (Amtrak) does not permit any checked baggage on that particular train service. If things have changed recently, that would be great news.
I think I remember hearing that the key for boxing the bike is removing the pedals and turning the handle bars, so bring enough wrenches to do the job.
Right. That was my experience, but not on the Pennsylvanian. I took a train to Chicago and then Kansas City. Boxed up the bike (and some gear because the box was so large) and didn’t have to worry about it again ’til KC. Once there, pedals back on and handlebars straightened and I was rolling out of Union Station in no time.
Anybody ride the Capitol Limited lately? I rode Connellsville to Cumberland a few weeks ago and did a 2-day camping ride back, and today I rode Pittsburgh to Connellsville for a quick day trip back. Both times, no bike rack in the luggage compartment! They’re telling everyone to lay the bikes on their sides.
It’s funny that it took them forever to come up with the special rack for roll-on service, but now it’s good enough to just toss them on the floor. We could have done that years ago!
From Facebook / KeepPghMoving.com
Beginning Tuesday, October 1, 2019, the Pennsylvanian will add a baggage car to its operation and provide checked baggage service plus space to carry up to six bicycles. Based on the Amtrak website, Pennsylvanian stations available to handle checked bags and bicycles are Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Newark and New York. The bicycle charge is $20.00.
Just checked the Amtrak site and there is indeed the ability to add bicycles to your ticket! Amazing.
Damn, I was going to post this myself, as I got it straight from the Amtrak Bike Advisory Committee that I still participate on.
This is, in fact, exactly why I started this thread almost 10 years ago.
Why do the trains have to be so early? No buses arrive in Downtown before then.
If I had to catch a train to Washington, would I have to ride the last inbound bus to Downtown for the day and then sleep in the train station for a few hours before the train comes?
Because they start in Chicago and D.C.
We’ve needed a second Pennsylvanian for years. Figure out how to fund it, both at state and national levels. Current political leadership is against that on both levels.
Let’s hope there’s anything left by the time the politicians we elect in Nov 2020 will take charge.
Funny though, it costs $20 for a bike to travel to Johnstown, but only $19 for a person per trip when I priced it out…. So it costs about 80-ish for a round trip.
Still wondering if they have general specifications about what types of bikes are capable of roll-on service? Max Tire Size? Considering that I have a Mountain bike with 27.5×2.8″ tires that I would like to take to Johnstown to ride down the incline plane Mountain Bike Trails which is only a short ride from the Amtrak Station… Is it possible with this bike?
I know we’ve talked about that in the Amtrak group, which contains reps from all over the country. I’d have to check the Amtrak website for specifics on whether they added that detail.
When does the train leave Chicago?
Also, would the trip in the below link work with a bike for the sake of being able to ride a bus to the train station?
Brian O’Neill: Is it time to tell Amtrak to get off the tracks in Pittsburgh?
This article says there are expanded bike-on-Amtrak options in PA. Article was a little vague, but I think the change is that unboxed bikes are now allowed on Keystone (Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York City) trains. Previously, within Pennsylvania they were only allowed on Capitol Limited (Chicago-Pittsburgh-Washington DC) and Pennsylvanian (Pittsburgh-Philadelphia-New York City) trains, I believe.
They weren’t on the Pennsylvanian, which is why this thread was created 10 years ago. Re-reading this, I’m still not sure that you can yet.
I did bring a folding bike on my April 2019 trip from Pgh-Phila and back.
Stu: article says “Carry-on and walk-on bike service has been available on the Pennsylvanian for less than a year”.
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