Hassles of Air Travel Push Passengers to Amtrak

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kenw

5th Generation Texian
I think it is important to look at the market for this truism: NE Corridor. Many railfans will want to extrapolate this the justify high speed rail (HSR) from Chicago to Seattle. That’s a mistake. Trains for the sake of trains is counterproductive: it adds more inefficient solutions and poisons the waters for the markets where rail IS the efficient solution. Just because HSR is a good solution in the NE Corridor, doesn’t make it a good solution for Houston to Dallas (as an example). Unfortunately the myopic mindset is that since all passenger rail traffic is Amtrak, and since Amtrak is bleeding money, therefore passenger rail is a waste. It isn’t always a waste. But neither is it a solution in every situation. Folks in the Midwest and West need to realize that they just might have to pay taxes to support something (HSR in the NEC) that doesn’t directly benefit them.

But then, folks all over are paying for ethanol that only benefits the Midwest, so there….
 

muralist0221

Active Member
I suspect the future of rail passenger travel lies with the right city pairs, Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, Chicago to St. Louis, etc. The present administration talks of HSR when they should be talking about "higher speed rail". I suspect this type of service would siphon off some air passengers, but the real objective is to take a percentage of motorists off the highway, many of whom don't want to be there.

In July had to attend a funeral on short notice. Even with the bereavement discount, air travel was extremely expensive, Amtrak was sold out, so you drive 1300 miles. This was not an enjoyable experience! There were long construction delays in Indiana, constant construction slowdowns on the whole route and a $27 toll through Pennsylvania. Interstate hotels tend to be sold out in the summer, so you drive out of your way to stay with relatives in Ohio. Amtrak doesn't have enough equipment. This situation is a disgrace.
 

wigwagfan

Passenger
Even with the bereavement discount, air travel was extremely expensive, Amtrak was sold out, so you drive 1300 miles. This was not an enjoyable experience! There were long construction delays in Indiana, constant construction slowdowns on the whole route and a $27 toll through Pennsylvania. Interstate hotels tend to be sold out in the summer, so you drive out of your way to stay with relatives in Ohio. Amtrak doesn't have enough equipment. This situation is a disgrace.
Therein lies the whole root of the issue - the airlines, knowing they have more-or-less a fixed capacity, prices its product in a manner that reflects supply and demand.

Amtrak does not. It sells tickets below cost, jams its trains full, and loses well over a billion a year. If Amtrak is "so popular" as its proponents often argue, Amtrak should be doubling its fares. After all, if Amtrak is a fresh alternative to air, its riders would be more than willing to pay the higher fares. "Amtrak does not have enough equipment" is not the answer, the answer is "Amtrak charges too little for its service."
 

Sean R Das

Railfan
You know, you'd think at some point, given the gradual increase in passenger-train ridership since the "rock-bottom" times of the 70's, a single company monopolizing the intercity passenger rail market would no longer be enough, even if they bought new equipment and expanded their network to serve all 48 mainland states and virtually every major city in the country.

America needs privatized passenger service, especially with the hype brought on by high-speed rail initiatives.
 

muralist0221

Active Member
I am in complete agreement with Wigwamman's proposal about raising fares:

Case in point: Missouri's River Runner Service between K.C. and St. Louis loses somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000 depending on the year. Simple solution- raise fares between $.50 to two dollars. This will not run off the poor and needy (liberal thinking). Poor folks ride the bus. Now money has been spent to speed up the schedule by improving track conditions, but that was for the benefit of Union Pacific which has clout with the Missouri legislature. Amtrak was used as an excuse to procure the funds. The train runs with three coaches and a snack car. Employees tell me it is sold out from time to time. Storing additional coaches for peak usage would not increase labor costs and the engine can handle the extra equipment which has recently been ordered.

Other short haul routes could benefit from this type of thinking. Relative to long haul service, they might consider raising fares by 50% which would cut losses. Again additional equipment (and using more head end generating power) during heavy travel periods. What about food services deficiencies? Amtrak does not charge off sleeping car revenue for free meals which inflates the amount lost. Furthermore, have each sleeping car and coach attendant cover two cars so as not to increase labor costs. The labor cost of an airliner is fixed.

By the way, want to help the postal service? Charge 80 cents a letter. Would bet the volume would not increase. The corporations might scream though.
 

April

Reality escapee
I don't know. I spent almost 24 hours going nowhere fast on a trip from Dallas, Texas to Springfield, Illinois.

Never again.

April
 

TCJim

Handler and Palm Reader
I don't know. I spent almost 24 hours going nowhere fast on a trip from Dallas, Texas to Springfield, Illinois.

Never again.

April
April,
On what? The tarmac? In a car in bad traffic/weather? I'd make the assumption you're talking about the train, but you never know.
 

wigwagfan

Passenger
America needs privatized passenger service, especially with the hype brought on by high-speed rail initiatives.
Nobody's stopping you from investing your own hard earned cash and starting a private passenger railroad.

Good luck finding a bunch of investors to agree with you.
 

TCJim

Handler and Palm Reader
Nobody's stopping you from investing your own hard earned cash and starting a private passenger railroad.

Good luck finding a bunch of investors to agree with you.
It would more lucrative to invest in one of the new toll facilities being constructed on some of the regional highways for congestion relief. The customers would make for a nice captive audience.
 

wigwagfan

Passenger
It would more lucrative to invest in one of the new toll facilities being constructed on some of the regional highways for congestion relief. The customers would make for a nice captive audience.
I hear there's a really big Australian bank that has invested in quite a few toll roads.

I also hear the entire country of Australia laughing at the United States this morning as we just plowed over the fiscal cliff and they're saying "We've got abundant natural resources, no national debt...our economy's just fine!" Granted they don't have Amtrak...or much passenger rail service for that matter...so I guess in that definition they must be a failure.
 

muralist0221

Active Member
In the "golden age" of air travel, had many pleasant interactions with passengers and flight crews on 727s while waiting on line to use the lavatories. Times have changed! Yesterday, was on a three hour flight on "the great" Southwest Airlines. Had to use the facility. Jumped over two seatmates to reach the aisle. This was not easy since Southwest has retrofitted their 737s by moving the seats closer which allows for more capacity and greater discomfort. Upon arrival at the front of the plane, saw both lavatories were occupied. The stewardess yelled at me to get back to my seat. "There is no room in the aisles for standees". Ended up relieving myself at the airport rest room in Florida.

May I suggest when flying Southwest, bring an empty coffee cup with lid on the plane. Lower the tray so they don't charge you with indecent exposure. Fill the cup and replace the lid. Hand the cup to the burned out stewardess when she collects the trash.

We all know how superior Southwest Airlines is to Amtrak. But funny, never had this problem on Amtrak. Both coaches and sleepers seem to have adequate rest rooms.
 




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