Author Topic: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?  (Read 2748 times)

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Offline RicemanDan

Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« on: September 07, 2010, 02:40:12 pm »
Hi

I just got off the phone with Amtrack because I was looking to board a train at Yuma, which is an unmanned station, and get off at Del Rio, also unmanned. I was told I could not do this with a bike, because it needs to be checked in, but I'm wondering if this is policy/phone speak - what do you think would happen in reality at the station with a valid ticket? Has anyone tried this? What about strapping the wheels to the frame and trying to get it as carry on?

I didn't want to have to ride to Tuscon, because it's not even on the ACA maps route. I suppose a bus from Yuma to Tuscon may be possible.

I only have 30 days to be in Florida and whilst I can ride 100+ miles a day, I have to be certain of riding in time for a wedding, so needed to to skip a 1000 miles or so and with New Orleans - Florida out of commission through Amtrack, this was the best option

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2010, 03:21:18 pm »
I've ridden that train several times and Yuma is a very quick stop.  They do not even open the baggage car.  Your only option may be to see if the conductor will allow you to bungie cord your bike near one of the doors.  Then when the train gets to Tuscon get a box and put your bike in the baggage car.  If you are nice and plead your case they may open the baggage car so you can fasten it to a wall.  Unfortunately what the phone person said is their policy but again the train conductor may make an exception.  But be prepared either to ride to Tucson and/or box the bike in Tucson.  Good Luck.

Offline RicemanDan

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2010, 05:21:08 pm »
Hello again Aggie. Thanks for more good information.

Putting your fate in the hands of the conductor is always a gamble I suppose, but if they are reasonable it could be possible. Plus it will be dark - perhaps more sympathy invoked.

I've been thinking about possible options with truckers. This would be the best and cheapest option, but again I do not have experience.

Maricopa, one stop after Yuma, is a checked/manned baggage stop, but it arrives at 10pm, so I'm not sure it would be open? Decisions decisions!

Offline Tourista829

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2010, 10:56:10 pm »
Bag the train. I have not had luck at unmanned stations. This is not like Europe. They claim, no baggage handlers, no bike, whether boxed or not. I tried the trucker thing and it was a big bust. Most truckers, who work for companies, do not allow them to take passengers and they do not always have a healthy attitude towards cyclists. My suggestion, if you don't want to ride that stretch, is to see if you can rent a car, one way. If you rent one, and it is a smaller car, make sure it has fold down rear seats.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2010, 10:29:01 am »
Putting your fate in the hands of the conductor is always a gamble I suppose, but if they are reasonable it could be possible. Plus it will be dark - perhaps more sympathy invoked.

As someone who works in the rail industry, you will almost certainly find yousrself out of luck if only because allowing you to do something that is against policy could result in disciplinary action against the employee.  There may also be labor restrictions which would prevent a conductor or trainman, not to mention a passenger, from performing the functions of a baggage handler.  The station platform length could also affect the ability to load and unload baggage safely.

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2010, 11:06:17 am »
I'm not sure about the distance between Yuma and the Maricopa (Phoenix) station but the station is open most of the day.  It is open from 0715 to 1445 hrs and from 1715 to 0045 hrs according to the website.  As was mentioned above I wouldn't risk the good will of the conductor.  The station is about 30 miles south of the Phoenix airport. It is slightly closer to Tempe.   If you rent a car you should be able to drop it off at the airport or possible Tempe.  (Arizona State University)

Amtrak will charge you $15 for the box and $5 to ship.  It is a big box so you don't have to remove the wheels.  You will have to remove the pedals and depending on your handlebars - either turn or remove and strap to top tube.  If you're really tall you may have to lower your seat.  Then roll your bike into the box and tape it up.  At every station I've been at Amtrak provides the tape as well.

Good Luck.

Offline ColoradoKid

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2010, 07:34:36 pm »
An easier way is to skip the train and put your bike in a rented truck, (U-Haul is in almost every town in the USA.) strap the bike to the walls and drive to where ever you are going. It is faster and cheaper then other ways of getting there.

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2010, 11:15:54 am »
A check of prices for UHaul finds that it isn't cheaper than Amtrak.  It may be faster but it is anything but cheaper.  Don't forget to add the price of gas.  At $3 per gallon the vehicle will get about 10 miles per gallon so the cost will add up quickly.

Offline MrBent

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2010, 09:02:56 am »
Yeah, U-Haul is expensive--great service, but $$.  I've used it many times to transport our tandem trike, trailer, etc. to/from pt. to pt. tours.  Look into Hertz rental cars.  Much cheaper, although still a few $$ for sure.

Another possibility is to look over one of, I think, several ride sharing data bases available on the Internet.  I don't know the names, but I know they exist.  That might be ideal!

Best of luck.

Scott

Offline staehpj1

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2010, 09:15:58 am »
A check of prices for UHaul finds that it isn't cheaper than Amtrak.  It may be faster but it is anything but cheaper.  Don't forget to add the price of gas.  At $3 per gallon the vehicle will get about 10 miles per gallon so the cost will add up quickly.
Not surprising.  If I remember correctly, when we were looking to rent a vehicle to haul three of us and our bikes from Portland OR to the coast, U-Haul was a good bit more than double what we paid Enterprise for a one way rental.

Offline RicemanDan

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2010, 11:13:06 am »
Well I took the Greyhound in the end, which cost $81 (special online fare) from San Diego - El Paso. Problem is that they charge $10 for a box (actually this is not the problem, but a good price) and $25-35 to check the bike in. I gambled and did not check it in, hoping the driver would be sympathetic. I received the: "ok, I'll do it this time, but next time check it in". Pleased to escape that extra charge!

The bus ride was awful! A constant din throughout. But not much compared to 95deg heat and 10-15mph headwinds on the bike from Sanderson - Del Rio. I'd never go near the southern tier route until temps are guaranteed to cool. The thing is that the heat lasts 12+ hours - it doesn't subside!

Looking for a ride share on craigs list now, from Austin to New Orleans, then cycle the rest to Florida.

Offline Peaks

Re: Amtrack confusion - policy vs reality?
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2010, 06:19:50 pm »
I'd say reality.  It's my impression that Amtrack accepts bikes only at manned stations that have a baggage counter.  I wish it were otherwise.