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What small changes would increase ridership exponentially?


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#21 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 04:41 PM

... how about some advertisement?  

 

... the majority of Americans do not know much about Amtrak, especially middle distance or LD. ... a vague idea there is a train system, but ... 

 

Furthermore, ... the wrong assumption about the accommodations and comfort levels that middle distance and LD trains ... Many just imagine it is a prolonged commuter rail, on which nobody wants to spend a long time or overnight. ... 

A good observation.

 

For what you want, TV ads may not be the best thing. I'd have Amtrak spend on "product placement" in movies and TV shows. If Hollywood would include on-board scenes in various episodes, viewers could see the spaces and amenities, without the tune-out treatment that many commercials get.



#22 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 04:49 PM

 

For what you want, TV ads may not be the best thing. I'd have Amtrak spend on "product placement" in movies and TV shows. If Hollywood would include on-board scenes in various episodes, viewers could see the spaces and amenities, without the tune-out treatment that many commercials get.

 

 

Well the Coast Starlight was mentioned on the Big Bang Theory a few years ago. It's hard to get much bigger of a captive audience on TV than that.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#23 Carolina Special

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 08:50 PM

The characters on the CW shows Flash and Arrow have used trains several times over the last five years. Never have seen an Amtrak logo, though, even that seems like a young desirable audience.

Of course if the message from those shows is that the train or train stations may get attacked by super villains while you're traveling, maybe not such a good idea to sponsor those shows.

#24 keelhauled

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 09:13 PM

 

 

For what you want, TV ads may not be the best thing. I'd have Amtrak spend on "product placement" in movies and TV shows. If Hollywood would include on-board scenes in various episodes, viewers could see the spaces and amenities, without the tune-out treatment that many commercials get.

 

 

Well the Coast Starlight was mentioned on the Big Bang Theory a few years ago. It's hard to get much bigger of a captive audience on TV than that.

 

As I recall, the characters riding the train were dismayed about the travel time, and unfavorable comparisons to flying were made.  I sure hope Amtrak didn't pay for that.


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#25 A Voice

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 10:24 PM

 

 

 

For what you want, TV ads may not be the best thing. I'd have Amtrak spend on "product placement" in movies and TV shows. If Hollywood would include on-board scenes in various episodes, viewers could see the spaces and amenities, without the tune-out treatment that many commercials get.

 

 

Well the Coast Starlight was mentioned on the Big Bang Theory a few years ago. It's hard to get much bigger of a captive audience on TV than that.

 

As I recall, the characters riding the train were dismayed about the travel time, and unfavorable comparisons to flying were made.  I sure hope Amtrak didn't pay for that.

 

 

When Amtrak's existence in many markets is a well-kept secret, there is no such thing as bad publicity.  



#26 Lonestar648

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 12:01 PM

Small changes would be having seasonal inventory (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) to add cars or additional special short distance trains.  There is a large overflow of people wanting to travel on Amtrak each year that find all seats have been sold out.

 

How many cars are waiting repairs that could be put into service if Amtrak had the money to fix them.  Yes, these are not new cars, but repaired cars could be inserted quicker, while new cars are ordered.

 

On Time performance is critical to customer confidence, thus a high priority for increased ridership.

 

Customer Relations is a critical component that Amtrak needs improvement.  There are many Amtrak employees who give 110% to make passengers feel like their guests.  But there are too many who are first looking for their pay check, then begrudgingly doing minimal work, being offended when asked for anything. Rewarding excellent customer service would provide a positive incentive for others to follow the lead.



#27 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 07:11 AM

How about a new station/fix the situation in ATL? It's a market that should benefit from a second train or the ability to have through cars (Crescent Star and/or ATL-Florida service) or even cut off cars as suggested in the PIP.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#28 Chessie

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 11:33 AM

... how about some advertisement?  
 
... the majority of Americans do not know much about Amtrak, especially middle distance or LD. ... a vague idea there is a train system, but ... 
 
Furthermore, ... the wrong assumption about the accommodations and comfort levels that middle distance and LD trains ... Many just imagine it is a prolonged commuter rail, on which nobody wants to spend a long time or overnight. ... 

A good observation.
 
For what you want, TV ads may not be the best thing. I'd have Amtrak spend on "product placement" in movies and TV shows. If Hollywood would include on-board scenes in various episodes, viewers could see the spaces and amenities, without the tune-out treatment that many commercials get.

Like a semi romanticized product cameo? That's a very cool idea. Amtrak marketing or PR department can try it.


How about a new station/fix the situation in ATL? It's a market that should benefit from a second train or the ability to have through cars (Crescent Star and/or ATL-Florida service) or even cut off cars as suggested in the PIP.


Or reviving the Floridian.

Though I have to admit the current location is unbelievably convenient for me personally as my employer has a site within walking distance and I have plans to utilize it for business trips in April and May. :)

But yes it needs to be upgraded, maybe even relocated if Atlanta ever wants to have more Amtrak services.

And through cars? You mean like a split service, one car to Nola and another to Florida?

#29 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 11:52 AM

 




How about a new station/fix the situation in ATL? It's a market that should benefit from a second train or the ability to have through cars (Crescent Star and/or ATL-Florida service) or even cut off cars as suggested in the PIP.


Or reviving the Floridian.

Though I have to admit the current location is unbelievably convenient for me personally as my employer has a site within walking distance and I have plans to utilize it for business trips in April and May. :)

But yes it needs to be upgraded, maybe even relocated if Atlanta ever wants to have more Amtrak services.

And through cars? You mean like a split service, one car to Nola and another to Florida?

 

 

Absolutely. I can think of plenty of cases where through cars/split service would help a lot. You can improve LD service without having to service/store LD cars at areas that can't support it (ex. Boston, Portland). I wonder if some of these can be considered extensions of existing trains and not require state funding.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#30 A Voice

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 02:02 PM

 

 




How about a new station/fix the situation in ATL? It's a market that should benefit from a second train or the ability to have through cars (Crescent Star and/or ATL-Florida service) or even cut off cars as suggested in the PIP.


Or reviving the Floridian.

Though I have to admit the current location is unbelievably convenient for me personally as my employer has a site within walking distance and I have plans to utilize it for business trips in April and May. :)

But yes it needs to be upgraded, maybe even relocated if Atlanta ever wants to have more Amtrak services.

And through cars? You mean like a split service, one car to Nola and another to Florida?

 

 

Absolutely. I can think of plenty of cases where through cars/split service would help a lot. You can improve LD service without having to service/store LD cars at areas that can't support it (ex. Boston, Portland). I wonder if some of these can be considered extensions of existing trains and not require state funding.

 

 

If the Portland section of the Empire Builder, or the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited, are extensions of the existing train - and they are - then no reason it would be different anywhere else.  



#31 Thirdrail7

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 02:25 PM

For the record, split trains and station upgrades are hardly small changes.


Edited by Thirdrail7, 28 January 2017 - 02:26 PM.

They say laughter is the best medicine. Obviously they never posted on AU.


#32 Chessie

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 03:46 PM

Another idea, again, not sure if it counts as a "small" change as it would require equipment overhaul, but how about adding some sections (like the ones on VIA sleepers) into Amtrak sleepers?

 

Now I understand the advantage of roomettes and bedrooms but a major disadvantage is it is not designed for solo travelers, which, most business travelers are.  

 

Air travel take much less time and most would not feel the need for first class accommodation traveling to anywhere within the country but rail travel is a different story.  If I have to spend overnight on a train and then go to work the next day, I would much prefer to be able to lay down.  And now there is no reasonable priced (as in, I wouldn't look out of line asking my company to reimburse) option for a solo traveler.  

 

Presently I have two business trips coming up, one from PHL to JAX and back (I would do SM southbound and SS north) and another from PHL to ATL and back.  In both cases, the Amtrak schedules are near perfect for my needs, however, a roomette, which is designed for two, is just too much to ask my company to reimburse for.  As much as I would love to incorporate Amtrak into my business travel, I am still debating if I am willing to pay for the roomette myself.  Or roomette one way and coach back.  

 

I would imagine solo travelers are a fairly big market, no?  


Edited by Longhai, 01 February 2017 - 06:52 PM.


#33 neroden

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 08:20 AM

It may not count as a small change, but if VIA or Quebec purchased the CN line from the US/Canadian border to Montreal Central, and maintained it properly and dispatched it properly, it could make a massive difference to OTP on the Adirondack, which would cause ridership to boom.


Edited by neroden, 03 February 2017 - 08:21 AM.

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#34 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 08:45 AM

Another idea, again, not sure if it counts as a "small" change as it would require equipment overhaul, but how about adding some sections (like the ones on VIA sleepers) into Amtrak sleepers?

 

Now I understand the advantage of roomettes and bedrooms but a major disadvantage is it is not designed for solo travelers, which, most business travelers are.  

 

Air travel take much less time and most would not feel the need for first class accommodation traveling to anywhere within the country but rail travel is a different story.  If I have to spend overnight on a train and then go to work the next day, I would much prefer to be able to lay down.  And now there is no reasonable priced (as in, I wouldn't look out of line asking my company to reimburse) option for a solo traveler.  

 

Presently I have two business trips coming up, one from PHL to JAX and back (I would do SM southbound and SS north) and another from PHL to ATL and back.  In both cases, the Amtrak schedules are near perfect for my needs, however, a roomette, which is designed for two, is just too much to ask my company to reimburse for.  As much as I would love to incorporate Amtrak into my business travel, I am still debating if I am willing to pay for the roomette myself.  Or roomette one way and coach back.  

 

I would imagine solo travelers are a fairly big market, no?  

 

Well unbundling the meals from the roomette charge on the Silver Star is a start. Not only are you paying for overpriced Amtrak steaks, you're actually paying for two people's overpriced Amtrak steaks even though you're a single person.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#35 amyontherails

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 12:40 AM

Vegas. The real one in Nevada.


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#36 Bradenmeridian

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 09:58 PM

Okay, here's one that hasn't come up:  A la Autotrain, there is a great untapped market for a BikerTrain that would transport motorcycles on a long distance route.  All east coast motorcyclists - think people with obviously disposable incomes, and retirees - want to take their bikes out west to ride the Rockies, etc. but don't want to ride all the way there on truck filled interstates and boring plains states.  There is absolutely no competition with airlines, and relative to riding a mc cross country, Amtrak is actually faster.  A mc is much slower than a car because typical auto speeds are uncomfortable and untenable, frequent fuel/butt rest stops are required, and you can't do anything while riding but ride - no eating, drinking coffee, water, etc.  Motorcycle rentals, unlike car rentals are hard to find, and pricey, and the whole point of owning a bike is to ride it on beautiful roads in great places.  So the option of being able to load your bike on a train is a truly attractive one.

 

Bike trips are also something that are often done in groups of friends - perfect for the social environment of a train, and because they have the money, they'll be willing to pay the extra charge for the bike as well as the sleeper and meals.

 

The trip would only be between two cities.  Bikes don't need to go downtown to downtown so they could ride to a place such as a siding near Rensselaer to load onto a waiting modified baggage car, which could then be coupled to the LSL.  The car would be transferred in Chicago onto the Zephyr and then uncoupled in Denver and pulled out to a siding.  The bikers don't care if it's not where they wanted to go because now they are in the Rockies, which are fun riding to almost anywhere out west.

 

Because renting a bike is so expensive and trucking your own bike has a very unpredictable delivery schedule, there is virtually no competition so the fare price should be able to cover the costs.  Also, unlike other improvements, the service need not be offered all year or even every day of the week. That means a single motorcycle carrier might possibly cover the service in both directions - Depart Rensselaer Thursday, Depart Denver Monday.  Or to create a specific vacation idea a single car could run every other week all summer:  Friday, board in the east, ride all week, board the next Friday in Denver for the return.  If it's a hit, you get a second car and run every week.

 

All the other ideas for improved ridership involve enormous expenditures to improve schedules, speeds, and destinations.  A modified box car might do the trick, if it is certified to passenger train speeds.  Bikes are already allowed on AutoTrains; they are strapped down onto pallets and loaded into the car carriers.  I can picture a pallet that can roll sideways, so a bike is strapped on, the pallet is loaded into the car by a fork lift, then the whole pallet is slid to either end of the car to make room at the doorway for the next pallet.  With a system like this you might even open it up to ATV's.

 

You think I've been thinking about this?



#37 Paulus

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 12:22 PM

The easiest small change is to add connecting bus frequencies. They very easily pay for themselves and significantly increase ridership. Half the ridership on the San Joaquins, for instance, uses a connecting bus at one or both ends of their journey.

#38 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 12:39 PM

Okay, here's one that hasn't come up:  A la Autotrain, there is a great untapped market for a BikerTrain that would transport motorcycles on a long distance route.  All east coast motorcyclists - think people with obviously disposable incomes, and retirees - want to take their bikes out west to ride the Rockies, etc. but don't want to ride all the way there on truck filled interstates and boring plains states.  

 

How many retirees have motorcycles? I'm not saying the Biker Train is a bad idea but I have a hard time seeing Grandpa or Grandma on a motorcycle.


Trains Traveled: Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA), Three Rivers (Harrisburg, PA-CHI, Altoona, PA-CHI, PHL-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Lake Short Limited (NYP-CHI), , Silver Meteor (PHL-ORL), Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX), California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY), City of New Orleans and/or Illini (CHI-Champaign, IL)
Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
https://www.facebook...roadwayLimited/

#39 Eric S

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 01:39 PM

The easiest small change is to add connecting bus frequencies. They very easily pay for themselves and significantly increase ridership. Half the ridership on the San Joaquins, for instance, uses a connecting bus at one or both ends of their journey.

It's been nice to see Amtrak adding more Thruway connections in recent years (in North Carolina, in Kansas-Oklahoma, in Minnesota, for example). But there certainly seems to still be plenty of low-hanging fruit in that regard - although I suppose states really should be taking the lead on bus connections to corridor services.



#40 A Voice

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 03:22 PM

 

The easiest small change is to add connecting bus frequencies. They very easily pay for themselves and significantly increase ridership. Half the ridership on the San Joaquins, for instance, uses a connecting bus at one or both ends of their journey.

It's been nice to see Amtrak adding more Thruway connections in recent years (in North Carolina, in Kansas-Oklahoma, in Minnesota, for example). But there certainly seems to still be plenty of low-hanging fruit in that regard - although I suppose states really should be taking the lead on bus connections to corridor services.

 

 

I would agree that greater bus connections have potential as a way to build ridership, with perhaps a few caveats (nor is it necessarily a small change).  First, many of these should be dedicated Amtrak Thruway buses, and not merely existing Greyhound schedules (and similar) which operate anyway.  While connections to Greyhound are sometimes appropriate, far more potential lies in a higher-quality motorcoach  exclusively for connecting train passengers.  Certainly it can be operated by a regional bus contractor/operator, but the branding, service, and experience should be virtually seamless for the passenger between bus and train.  

 

Secondly, the connecting bus routes need to emphasize segments of routes where there is excess capacity. It accomplishes nothing merely to replace an existing passenger with a different new passenger from the bus connection.  Some routes are more heavily patronized on portions of the line but have plenty of empty seats elsewhere (Crescent south of Atlanta, for instance); Connections are important everywhere, but expanded Thruway buses could help fill an otherwise lightly populated train.  






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