Author Topic: Amtrak Bike Travel  (Read 1532 times)

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Offline CJScanlon

Amtrak Bike Travel
« on: January 29, 2022, 02:48:13 pm »
I have tried to reserve a spot for my bike on the Capital Limited on four occasions, only once was I successful even when I tried to reserve in January for a May trip. The agent acknowledged this is a popular option and that they seldom have enough space given the demand. If I ran a business that had more demand than supply, I would raise the price to discourage demand (not the preferred option)  or increase the supply. I encourage others who have had similar experience to write to Amtrak and hope Adventure Cycling includes this concern in their lobbying efforts.

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2022, 05:46:02 pm »
Amtrak is struggling to adapt to the increase in cyclists bringing their bikes.  I will be taking Amtrak in June but because of Covid they have made changes that make it more difficult to bring my bike.  I will be traveling through Portland, OR to get to Whitefish, MT.  The train to Whitefish from Portland no longer provides bike service so I will have to box my bike.  Unfortunately because of cutbacks due to Covid Amtrak no longer offers baggage service on the Pacific Surfliner so I can’t box my bike at my starting.  I will have to carry my bike on then go to the baggage department at Union Station in downtown LA.  There I will have to box it up in the short window of time between trains.  COVID has really caused them to reduce service.  It will be a long time if ever before they restore the service they had before Covid.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2022, 09:20:00 am »
It took a long time to get the bike capacity that exists today.  I would not expect the Capitol to make changes any time soon.

But do you realize that the Capitol Limited offers checked baggage service?  That means that you can box a bike and take it between stations that offer checked baggage service even if the special bike spaces are all reserved.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2022, 09:09:23 pm »
I will be taking Amtrak in June but because of Covid they have made changes that make it more difficult to bring my bike.  I will be traveling through Portland, OR to get to Whitefish, MT.  The train to Whitefish from Portland no longer provides bike service so I will have to box my bike.

When you say "no longer provides bike service", do you mean roll-on (unboxed) bike service? If so, the Empire Builder from Portland to Spokane never offered this.

When Amtrak started to do roll-on service on the Empire Builder a few years back, they only did it for the Seattle segment. This is because how the the two sections of train split (or come together) at Spokane--the Seattle segment has the full baggage car, and that was upgraded with the bike racks. The Portland section only has the small baggage space sans hooks. When the train splits/comes apart at Spokane, the baggage from the small Portland baggage hold moves to the bigger Seattle baggage car, or vice versa. I'm guessing they didn't want to have to transfer unboxed bikes, so Portland bound bikes need to be boxed. I heard that this may change at some point, so I'm hopeful that boxing bikes in Portland won't forever be the status quo. But for now you have to do it.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2022, 09:13:54 pm »
If I ran a business that had more demand than supply, I would raise the price to discourage demand (not the preferred option)  or increase the supply.

Amtrak isn't a private business, it's a perpetually underfunded (until just about right now) government agency. I'm sure they want to increase bike space and get the added revenue, but by design they don't move fast. There's also the issue with bike space on trains when it comes to seasonal demand--jammed in summer, almost empty in winter. So Amtrak might not want to increase bike space if it comes at the expense of less passenger room.

Offline aggie

Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2022, 10:41:48 am »
I may have assumed the train to Whitefish from Portland offered roll on bike service.  Amtrak has still made changes making travel more challenging.  For instance on the Pacific Surfliner it used to offer baggage service at several stations and box your bike.  That service is no longer offered.  I want to use a bike with 2.25 inch tires but Amtrak only allows 2 inch tires for its roll on service.  Before Covid I could box my bike and check my bag in Fullerton on the much more frequent trains.  Now it can only be done when I arrive in Union Station LA.  There is also a short window of time between my trains.  I was told by an agent I have to take the bike to the baggage office which opens at 9:30 am.  My connecting train leaves at 9:50.  Fullerton is not the only station that has eliminated baggage service and/or reduced staffing and hours.  Also in the past it was easy to check a particular trains schedule to see if it offered baggage service.  That is near impossible now. 

I hope the money they receive helps to restore service so it is more customer friendly.

I am just pointing out some changes.  Amtrak is still my preferred method of travel with my bike and gear.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2022, 12:25:02 pm »
That service is no longer offered.  I want to use a bike with 2.25 inch tires but Amtrak only allows 2 inch tires for its roll on service. 

I've used bikes with tires as wide as 2.35 inch (60mm) like Schwalbe Fat Franks on Amtrak's bike racks, and they fit fine. And if you are worried, you can deflate the tires a bit before loading.

I do wish that they would have hooks designed for tires wider than 2 inches, but the places that make these hooks/racks are slow to adapt. It's the same on public transit--here in Portland some of the older hooks for bikes on the MAX light rail can't fit those Fat Franks.

Offline Ty0604

Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2022, 02:58:21 pm »
This link shows updated bicycle service on Amtrak.

I’ve 3x used the service to begin a tour. Seattle —-> San Diego for $20. My bike was put in the baggage car until LA and then given back to me and rolled it onto the train to San Diego. Denver —-> Pittsburg for $40. Also put into the baggage car and given back to me in Chicago and placed in the new baggage car. Lastly Jacksonville —> Savannah for $10. Also put into baggage car. All 3 times the bike was fully assembled but they requested everything lose be taken off the bike (Panniers, lights etc… Essentially anything they could lose).

https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard
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Offline ray b

Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2022, 12:32:33 pm »
I will be taking Amtrak in June but because of Covid they have made changes that make it more difficult to bring my bike.  I will be traveling through Portland, OR to get to Whitefish, MT.  The train to Whitefish from Portland no longer provides bike service so I will have to box my bike.

When you say "no longer provides bike service", do you mean roll-on (unboxed) bike service? If so, the Empire Builder from Portland to Spokane never offered this.

When Amtrak started to do roll-on service on the Empire Builder a few years back, they only did it for the Seattle segment.

Under the category of what goes around comes around, I'll point out that my first big cross country trip included a ride in May of 1979 from Chicago to Seattle on the North Coast Hiawatha (with a layover week of training in Missoula) and then down the coast to LA. (FWIW, '79 was the last year for the Hiawatha, hitting the Congressional cutting block in October.)

I rolled my fully loaded Bob Jackson crit bike (Messina) over to the baggage car at Union Station where a Greek-American baggage handler rolled it onto the baggage car and secured it.  Rolled it off and on in Missoula and Seattle, and off in LA. Worked like a charm, and the tips didn't seem mandatory. I suspect that with fewer personnel, less care in loading, and more complaints of damaged equipment from cyclists, the move to mandatory boxing followed.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline John Hunka

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Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2022, 04:43:26 pm »
Amtrak has made it easy to bring bikes on trains in the State of New York.  All Amtrak trains traveling from New York City to Niagara Falls, NY have a bicycle rack in each passenger coach. The bicyclist can now embark and alight at any station along this route. These bicycle racks are the result of more than three decades of advocating for bicycle carriage infrastructure on Amtrak’s New York State trains by the New York Bicycling Coalition’s representative to the Amtrak/Adventure Cycling Association Bicycle Task.

The bicycle racks in the Empire Service passenger coaches allow the bicyclist to roll/carry their bicycle into the passenger coach and hang their bike on the bike rack. No box or bag required. These bicycle racks are now in all Empire Service trains.
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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2022, 01:00:36 pm »
The problem is the number of racks are limited and often sold out weeks or months in advance.
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Offline MrGColnago

Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2022, 09:36:47 am »
Ok.....trying to book trip sept-nov:

Calif Zephyr: seems fine to book bike
Lake Shore: every journey seems books out which seems unlikely !

Something I don't know about going on with Lake Shore ?




Offline canalligators

Re: Amtrak Bike Travel
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2022, 07:13:34 pm »
Something unusual with the Lakeshore? It has a baggage car which has quite a few places in the racks.  I’d call and inquire.