Author Topic: Amtrack Question Seattle Area  (Read 1840 times)

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Offline awbikes

Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« on: March 07, 2012, 08:13:17 pm »
Planning to take the Coast Starlight into Seattle. Then Amtraks bus transfer to Vancouver. The layover is only 30 minutes and I will have two bikes to put together. Question is, can I just take my boxed bikes and put them on the bus and go? Is the bus station at Vancouvers Pacific Central Station the type of place I will feel comfortable assembling bikes at my midnight arrival time? Last question, I have a two mile bike ride from Vancouvers Pacific Central Station to my accommodations is that area safe in the wee hours?

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2012, 10:40:06 pm »
Those buses take boxed bikes, so shouldn't be a problem. In fact, the bus drivers prefer it that way and may give you crap if the bikes are unboxed.

As for Pacific Central/Vancouver, the neighborhood is on the edge of the Downtown Eastside area which is Vancouver's "sketchy" zone. I've been at that station late at night and never had any issues, though. Just keep your wits about you. And I haven't had problems riding through that area at night, but not knowing which way you'll be heading from the station, I can't give you a more definite answer.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 12:34:27 am »
I have taken the Amtrak twice and both times the experience was miserable.  In addition to dirty bathrooms and surly workers, the train was hours late both times.  The first time, it was so late I had to whole additional night there and then had to fight for a place on the train the next day! The next time, we were over 8 hours late getting into Seattle from LA and they lied to us the whole way about how we'd be there "almost on time" etc etc.  Never again for me.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2012, 01:40:52 am »
I have taken the Amtrak twice and both times the experience was miserable.  In addition to dirty bathrooms and surly workers, the train was hours late both times.  The first time, it was so late I had to whole additional night there and then had to fight for a place on the train the next day! The next time, we were over 8 hours late getting into Seattle from LA and they lied to us the whole way about how we'd be there "almost on time" etc etc.  Never again for me.

The Coast Starlight can be pretty late, but I've had overwhelmingly decent experiences on Amtrak, and I've taken it quite a bit over the past 12 years, in most parts of the country.

Offline cgarch

Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2012, 09:51:36 pm »
I have taken the Amtrak twice and both times the experience was miserable.  In addition to dirty bathrooms and surly workers, the train was hours late both times.  The first time, it was so late I had to whole additional night there and then had to fight for a place on the train the next day! The next time, we were over 8 hours late getting into Seattle from LA and they lied to us the whole way about how we'd be there "almost on time" etc etc.  Never again for me.

We've taken the Starlight 3 times and it was on time on each trip. Have taken the Zephyr and had the same experience. Staff was always courteous but yeah the bathrooms can be miserable as you get closer to the end of the run. As an alternative, we've spent the night in Seattle (note that the train arrives around 9-9:30 p.m.) and taken the Cascade the next day (early departure). The Cascade's are pretty nice and would sure beat getting into Vancouver in the middle of the night.

As you will be boxing your bikes, be sure you watch their weight. We've been able to load 'em no problem down here in the bay area, but the handlers in Seattle are really finicky and made me repack my tandem in two boxes, even though it says in their rules they can exceed 50 lbs..

Offline awbikes

Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2012, 10:28:40 pm »
Cgarch, thanks for the suggestion, your recommendation may make things easier but I have a few questions. I will have to assemble my bike for the trip from the Seattle station, however I seem to recall the Cascade will allow me to roll it on for the trip to Vancouver. Is this correct? Also how is the neighborhood around the Seattle station. I would probably spend the night at a HiSeattle hostel.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2012, 01:35:53 am »
...I have a few questions. I will have to assemble my bike for the trip from the Seattle station, however I seem to recall the Cascade will allow me to roll it on for the trip to Vancouver. Is this correct? Also how is the neighborhood around the Seattle station. I would probably spend the night at a HiSeattle hostel.

Yep, Amtrak Cascades allow roll-on service, so no need to box. In fact in most cases they don't like boxed bikes on these trains, from what I've seen.

As for the neighborhood around King Street Station is slightly sketchy at night, especially going over towards the hostel. During the day when it's full of people, not so much. I've never felt threatened, though, but some others may get weirded out. Thankfully the American Hotel (HI-Seattle) is a few short blocks from the train station.

One thing to note about the hostel is they offer secure bike storage in the basement, so no need to lock it outside overnight.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2012, 01:39:00 am »
As you will be boxing your bikes, be sure you watch their weight. We've been able to load 'em no problem down here in the bay area, but the handlers in Seattle are really finicky and made me repack my tandem in two boxes, even though it says in their rules they can exceed 50 lbs..

They can also be finicky in Portland as well. They don't like it if you leave anything on the bike other than water bottles, and if they see you sneak stuff in they'll tell you to take it out (and if they see you take out the bike with extra stuff attached they may give you crap as well!) And if they don't remind you, make sure that you empty your water bottles before packing the bike. They can leak, and leak onto something else.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2012, 11:19:20 am »

Offline cgarch

Re: Amtrack Question Seattle Area
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2012, 04:23:44 pm »
Cgarch, thanks for the suggestion, your recommendation may make things easier but I have a few questions. I will have to assemble my bike for the trip from the Seattle station, however I seem to recall the Cascade will allow me to roll it on for the trip to Vancouver. Is this correct? Also how is the neighborhood around the Seattle station. I would probably spend the night at a HiSeattle hostel.

Best way to deal with the Cascades is to make sure you get a reservation for both you and the bike. They indicate that there is some limit to the the number of bikes on the train, so make it easy and get the reso. I recall that it is something like $5 for the bike. As noted by adventurepdx, roll-on no problem.