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Amtrak Buses - How bad are they??


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#1 Guest_MistressJane_*

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 08:51 PM

Hi guys!
I posted a couple months ago just before my first every Amtrak trip and you were all SO helpful--THANK YOU! My trip went very well, and thanks to your suggestions and advice I was very comfortable and well prepared for my whole trip.

I have another long train trip coming up and I was hoping I could reach out for more opinions from this forum. Namely, how bad are the Amtrak buses? I have to take a rather epic trip from EMY to SYR then from SYR to TPA then from TPA back to EMY over the course of January.

Here are my options:
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While I like the idea of using the Silver Star to skip the bus [because I fear it will be AWFUL like Greyhound... not that I've even been on Greyhound, I've just heard literally nothing but horrible things] and I like the potential for wifi, I don't like that I have to leave at 4pm Wednesday instead of 6am Thursday. I'm staying will friends that week and I'd love to see as much of them as possible since we live a continent apart! The Silver Star also appears to take around 44 hours while the Silver Meteor only takes 32 hours.

So I guess my question is: Is the bus REALLY that bad? Is the wifi really that good? Is it worth missing out on half a day with friends?

Thanks in advance for your help. =]
~B

#2 Jim G.

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 09:41 PM

Your bus riders should be the same kind of people that were on the train. I rode several times last summer while they did track work in Illinois. I could not complain about the bus or the service. The train is just a whole lot more comfortable. By the way, I had to go to Kansas about a month ago to pick up a car I bought. Amtak just did not have connections, but Greyhound did. For the first time in my 73 yrs. I rode all night. The buses were new with comfortable leather seats. The drivers were courteous. What I had thought I would dread became a trip that I would not hesitate to do again.

#3 kal-tex

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 09:41 PM

We frequently travel from Chicago IL to Houston TX. Since there is no direct train traveling this route, we leave the train at Longview TX and climb aboard a bus from there to Houston (about a 5 hour trip). The bus is not our favorite part of the trip, but it's really not bad. A Lone Star Coach is contracted for that portion of the trip. The bus is relatively new and always very clean. Most times there are few passengers so it is possible to have a double seat for each person (unless it is a busy time of year when two-people-per-double-seat is necessary). There is an on-board restroom, but few people use it. The bus is equipped with video monitors and the driver plays a family-type movie or two. A "rest stop" is scheduled mid-way on the trip, so most folks use that opportunity to use a "real" restroom and to pick up a snack or meal. This is the only Amtrak Bus that we have ridden on, so I cannot give you a review of the Florida bus situation, but I would assume the service is similar. Plus, it's only a two-hour trip for you - I'd opt for the bus.

#4 johnny.menhennet

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 10:05 PM

I only have experience with Amtrak California buses, but they are really not very bad. A few years ago, I was travelling from Salinas to Glendale (before the Coast Starlight switched from Glendale to Van Nuys) and the train was going to be 11 hours late. So when the midday bus came through, they offered all of the willing passengers seats on the Amtrak California bus, where we could get on the Pacific Surfliner departure from SLO at 2:00... However, they were launching special military stuff at Vandenburg AFB and they transferred us onto separate buses to take us to Santa Barbara... the buses are fine, and especially for short trips like Orlando to Tampa, it's definitely ok... I do think that it's very important to see friends though, and if you think it is important to see them also, then the bus part is unnecessary.
One thing that doesn't make much sense to me is that if you go to Raleigh and use the Carolinian, I think it is unnecessary to take #67 to Washington DC... just get a cheap hotel in NYC

Edited by johnny.menhennet, 25 November 2011 - 10:07 PM.

Amtrak: Pacific Surfliner (100000000000), Southwest Chief (5), California Zephyr (1), Coast Starlight (6), Capitol Corridor (1), Empire Builder (2), Acela Express (1), LSL (1), NE Regional (2)
Non-Amtrak: NCTD Coaster (at least 20), Metrolink (4), SD Trolley (at least 20), LACMTA Red Line (at least 50), Seattle Streetcar (1), Chicago 'L' (probably 13), NYC Subway (probably 15), WMATA Mass Transit (probably 20), LIRR (1), Las Vegas Monorail (at least 12), MBTA Mass Transit (16), NJ Transit commuter rail (3), I'm sure there are more that I can't think of right now

upcoming Amtrak: Pacific Surfliner (10000000000 more)
upcoming non-Amtrak: Coaster, Red Line/Expo Line in LA, NJ Transit (5-10)

Pretty good for a 16 year old :)


#5 Rail Freak

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 10:30 PM

I'm from the Tampa Bay Area & travel the Meteor Bus to & from Orlando all the time. Because I do it so much, it's becoming a pain in the buttox!!!! That being said, not to worry, they are very nice & comfortable! Take the Silver Meteor!!!

A Rookie No More! But Still A Lot Of Track To Travel !!!
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#6 Donctor

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 10:46 PM

The buses can be really bad. I once met an Amtrak bus who had killed his sister. He had just been released from prison.

Edited by Donctor, 25 November 2011 - 10:47 PM.

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#7 bobnabq

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:13 PM

I rode all night. The buses (Greyhound) were new with comfortable leather seats. The drivers were courteous. What I had thought I would dread became a trip that I would not hesitate to do again.


Boy, I wish I could say the same. With my 6' 2" height I can't enjoy a bus or plane ride. My knees are always firmly planted in the back of the seat in front of me.
"You never know when you get up in the morning what the day will bring."

#8 JeffW

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:24 PM


I rode all night. The buses (Greyhound) were new with comfortable leather seats. The drivers were courteous. What I had thought I would dread became a trip that I would not hesitate to do again.


Boy, I wish I could say the same. With my 6' 2" height I can't enjoy a bus or plane ride. My knees are always firmly planted in the back of the seat in front of me.


Yup, I'm 6' 4", and I will not fly for the exact same reason. I remember one epic trip flying from NYC to Indianapolis in what amounted to a sardine can (window seat), and my legs were asleep before we even left the ground.

Regarding the Amtrak bus, I've taken one from Ann Arbor to Toledo, which almost felt like a discount charter bus--pretty comfortable, but not so much as Amtrak. If most of your trip is on the train, I figure you will be fine.

#9 Guest_guest_*

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:37 PM

The buses can be really bad. I once met an Amtrak bus who had killed his sister. He had just been released from prison.

the bus, the driver, a passenger, or none of the above???

#10 Cascadia

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:59 PM

I took a Thruway bus to Seattle recently, the trip was just fine. The bus was much better than a Greyhound bus, very new and clean. The driver was super pleasant and professional, he was happy in his job.

#11 gatelouse

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 01:44 AM

I haven't had a complaint with an Amtrak bus. Given the value of your time in Syracuse, I'd opt for the Meteor with the bus connection.

If you really, really want to avoid the bus, you can ride the Meteor to Winter Haven and catch the northbound Star to Tampa. This will get you an all-rail itinerary into Tampa if the Meteor isn't too delayed. Check out the PDF schedules for the details. Several variations on ticketing and protecting this itinerary are possible; post back if you're interested in pursuing this approach.
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#12 Cho Cho Charlie

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 08:01 AM


The buses can be really bad. I once met an Amtrak bus who had killed his sister. He had just been released from prison.

the bus, the driver, a passenger, or none of the above???


The bus.

This is what happens when you don't properly discipline a bus back when it was still a go cart. You know the old saying... spare the fan belt, spoil the bus.
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#13 Palmland

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 08:38 AM

Have ridden Ambus from Reno to Sacramento, Orlando to Tampa, and Emeryville to SF. All were good trips and nice equipment. Don't hesitate if it makes your travel plans work. But, I am curious about your option 2. Why NEC regional, Carolinian, and Silver Star. Why not just Silver Star all the way from NY to Tampa? The Star's route is a bit more circuitous than the Meteor but that would be my choice, since it allows you to stay in your sleeper -or coach- the whole way.

#14 Guest_guest_*

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 08:58 AM

The Amtrak bus from Charlottesville to Richmond is a thruway charter bus run by James River Bus Lines, and is strictly there for carrying Amtrak passengers connecting from the Cardinal to Richmond and connecting points, including destinations served by the Silver Meteor.

#15 Big Iron

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 09:24 AM

The Amtrak bus from Charlottesville to Richmond is a thruway charter bus run by James River Bus Lines, and is strictly there for carrying Amtrak passengers connecting from the Cardinal to Richmond and connecting points, including destinations served by the Silver Meteor.


I've ridden this bus a few times and James River runs their newer equipment on this route. It has never been crowded and I have always been able to get a seat pair to myself which helps my 6'2" frame feels more comfortable.
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#16 bobnabq

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 09:31 AM

I once met an Amtrak bus who had killed his sister. He had just been released from prison.


I read about that in "When Buses Go Bad".
"You never know when you get up in the morning what the day will bring."

#17 jmbgeg

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 11:24 AM

The buses can be really bad. I once met an Amtrak bus who had killed his sister. He had just been released from prison.


The "bus killed his sister"? Bad $%# bus... <_<
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#18 Guest_guest_*

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 04:53 PM


The buses can be really bad. I once met an Amtrak bus who had killed his sister. He had just been released from prison.


The "bus killed his sister"? Bad $%# bus... <_<

She spent too much time in his bathroom...

#19 sttsxm

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 05:15 PM

they aren 't bad....MY issue arises when i don't KNOW i am going to be on a bus (as in a bustitution..) and when Amtrak drops the ball ...(last winter, they ran bustitutions on the EB for a LONG time...and it was as if they never did it before..)

Conversely, the bustitution from BOS to ALB for the LSL wasn't horrible, and it was well planned out-the conductor rode with us, we had a nice lunch etc...

But, I digress....

the only SCHEDULED Amtrak bus I've taken was from the Ferry building in SF to EMY...and it was decent. Nice bus....no issues....(actually, even the bustitutions were on nice vehicles...)

You're only going to be riding with Amtrak pax as opposed to people just taking a bus from point A to point B.

WiFi on the trains can be hit or miss (IME mostly miss..) . Not sure if any of the buses are so equipped.

If it were me, I'd book as much of the trip as possible on the train...i understand you want to spend as much time with your friends as possible...but, all things considered, I would rather be on the train with room to walk around than stuck in a small (in comparison) bus...


As an FYI...67 is usually PACKED!!

Edited by sttsxm, 26 November 2011 - 05:17 PM.


#20 Donctor

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 07:37 PM


The buses can be really bad. I once met an Amtrak bus who had killed his sister. He had just been released from prison.

the bus, the driver, a passenger, or none of the above???


The bus. It was a pretty bad bus.
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