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What small changes would increase ridership exponentially?


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#41 jebr

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 03:36 PM

Far more potential may lie in branded service, but there's a lot more cost and risk involved. Busses aren't cheap to run, and if a route already has a Greyhound or regional run, a trial with a codeshare is much better than fronting the cost for busses (or even the cost of a contracted bus.) A codeshare can run profitably for both companies even if only a couple people a day use it, assuming the route is otherwise self sustaining.

I think Amtrak would do well with putting almost every practical bus connection online. Maybe only a few people use it, but if there's no major recurring costs and they're just paying per passenger, there's not a lot of downside to Amtrak and a lot of upside. If a route becomes popular, Amtrak can then work to either tailor a route specifically to their needs with that company or run their own service. But they can build the market first and then adapt later if ridership is especially strong.

#42 XHRTSP

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 06:42 PM

Second to what's been said about the importance of equipment acquisition.

 

Thence, fatten up the current Amtrak footprint, especially in the Midwest.  Have a second LSL and CL with daily Cleveland service.  Add PHL-CHI service over the Penn and CL route.  Make the Cardinal daily,  This would certainly be easier, cheaper, and faster than opening up new LD routes.  Get the Midwest on board with train travel and build from there.



#43 west point

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 08:01 PM

Paraphrasing what someone on the trains magazine form said about Moorman's interview " What's more important is to first make the present Amtrak better not bigger " Of course what do we define as better ?
1. Enough equipment so passenger demand is met 90 - 95% of the year ?
2. 90 - 95% on time originations and enroute operations. Discounting delays due to non RR incidents and weather ?
4. Enroute equipment failures reduced a whole order of magnitude ?
5. Improve OBS --- probably a given ?
6. Improved food service ?
7. Improved customer contact experience and improve web site
8. Improve irregular operation communications ?

#44 Lonestar648

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 01:20 AM

In many cases almost anything is an improvement.  Hopefully someone has established a starting point with some public metrics to measure the above,  If Moorman is really saying there will be improvement, would want to see facts and not Amtrak post measurement period manipulated numbers.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                Southwest Chief        Coast Starlight                                    Empire Service
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 197,000


#45 dlagrua

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:58 AM

Considering the current dining cars sometimes struggle to get out their often crappy food, and that the largest cost is the labor, I think it's time for Amtrak to do on LD trains exactly what they do on Acela: airline style catering for the meals. I don't want to hijack this thread since I think this is both not a small change and not one that would drastically increase ridership, but I think it's a move that makes a lot of sense to address a very long list of issues and complaints with food service on Amtrak. 

So you believe that lowering the food quality again will increase ridership? Wick Mooreman is on the record of saying that dining cars are necessary and part of the product. On a long trip travelers need a decent meal.  I tend to agree with the simple solution- meet the demand.  For LD trains adding more sleepers and an additional coach during peak ridership periods should be beneficial.



#46 Ryan

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 12:59 PM

Who said anything about lowering food quality?

I know you're morally opposed to flying, so you don't really know what you're talking about, but a decent meal is absolutely possible on an airplane.
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#47 west point

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:25 PM

In many cases almost anything is an improvement.  Hopefully someone has established a starting point with some public metrics to measure the above,  If Moorman is really saying there will be improvement, would want to see facts and not Amtrak post measurement period manipulated numbers.


Amtrak did make note of CAL Z cancelled between Reno and Colfax but neglected to alert cancellations SLC <> Reno. As well service between Colfax Emeryville not available until FEB 19 and as well all way to CHI. Amtrak communications still much to be desired.
Here is Amtrak service alert -----------
?


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California Zephyr Disruption

Service Reno, NV, to Coxfax, CA, disrupted through February 16, 2017, due to mudslides.

Edited by west point, 13 February 2017 - 05:29 PM.


#48 MARC Rider

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 06:33 AM


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.

I've been told that if you started riding motorcycles as a kid, you can safely do so into geezerhood, at least as long as your eyesight holds out, but under no circumstances should you take it up as a retirement hobby.

#49 MARC Rider

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 06:36 AM

Who said anything about lowering food quality?

I know you're morally opposed to flying, so you don't really know what you're talking about, but a decent meal is absolutely possibly on an airplane.


Not on Southwest Airlines :)

#50 MARC Rider

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 06:54 AM

I have sometimes wondered why Amtrak could never conceive a class of seating which you would consider as being underneath Amtrak's usual definition of coach class. If Amtrak could take a chair car from the Silver Meteor, for example, and reconfigure the seating in that car to have more of a motor coach feel- all the while charging substantially less fare per seat- this would certainly be a more efficient means of competing with carriers like Megabus between short distance markets. Of course this would not be a product that you would reasonably market to long distance travelers. But Amtrak should take note of the fact that companies like Megabus and Spirit Airlines are capturing a new breed of no-frills passenger. There should be some effort to play along on Amtrak's part, and of course the ridership would increase substantially.


This would actually work nicely in the NEC, where high NE Regional fares drive a lot of potential pax to the Bolt Bus.

Local service, say 4 hours WAS-NYP (current NE Regional is about 3.5 hours) using commuter style equipment at commuter style fares, say $20-$50 WAS-NYP instead of the current $50 - $150. Maybe code share with the commuter operators. It would allow more one seat service to intermediate stations, and capture some of the bus traffic.

#51 A Voice

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 10:17 AM

 

I have sometimes wondered why Amtrak could never conceive a class of seating which you would consider as being underneath Amtrak's usual definition of coach class. If Amtrak could take a chair car from the Silver Meteor, for example, and reconfigure the seating in that car to have more of a motor coach feel- all the while charging substantially less fare per seat- this would certainly be a more efficient means of competing with carriers like Megabus between short distance markets. Of course this would not be a product that you would reasonably market to long distance travelers. But Amtrak should take note of the fact that companies like Megabus and Spirit Airlines are capturing a new breed of no-frills passenger. There should be some effort to play along on Amtrak's part, and of course the ridership would increase substantially.


This would actually work nicely in the NEC, where high NE Regional fares drive a lot of potential pax to the Bolt Bus.

Local service, say 4 hours WAS-NYP (current NE Regional is about 3.5 hours) using commuter style equipment at commuter style fares, say $20-$50 WAS-NYP instead of the current $50 - $150. Maybe code share with the commuter operators. It would allow more one seat service to intermediate stations, and capture some of the bus traffic.

 

 

While there is no doubt a market for low-priced intercity rail service in the Northeast, and I personally like the idea, offering such service would likely hurt revenue significantly as passengers formerly paying Regional coach fares defect to the cheaper option.  It would not be just bus passengers attracted to low-cost "commuter-style" trains.  There would be an increase in ridership certainly, but largely from just the increased capacity; There is a shortage of single-level cars and capacity constraints on Acela.  Addressing the capacity issue would alone boost passenger counts, but that is hardly a small change. 

 

So long as there is adequate demand to fill greater overall train capacity, the emphasis should likely be on selling more premium-priced seats.  This gives you both the capacity to increase ridership and the greatest revenue.  Better to sell 100 seats at $150 than to fill 250 seats for $50 or less. 



#52 ainamkartma

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 05:45 PM

 

Local service, say 4 hours WAS-NYP (current NE Regional is about 3.5 hours) using commuter style equipment at commuter style fares, say $20-$50 WAS-NYP instead of the current $50 - $150. Maybe code share with the commuter operators. It would allow more one seat service to intermediate stations, and capture some of the bus traffic.

 

 

OK, but is it not the case that there is no significant additional capability available into NYP?  So any new budget train capacity would displace some of the present premium cost capacity?

 

So here is an alternate scheme: instead of running the new budget trains to NYP, turn them around at Newark, and have the low cost passengers transfer to PATH to get into NYC.  Is there track capacity available for this kind of service between WAS and Newark?  Could it come close to recouping its cost, assuming you used commuter-style equipment?  Would it be worth running even at a substantial subsidy, if it provided transport to lower income people for whom the present NEC costs are out of reach?

 

Edit to add: I am of course assuming that there is excess PATH capacity under the Hudson available outside of rush hour; is this in fact the case?

 

Ainamkartma


Edited by ainamkartma, 22 February 2017 - 05:50 PM.


#53 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 07:03 AM

 

 

Local service, say 4 hours WAS-NYP (current NE Regional is about 3.5 hours) using commuter style equipment at commuter style fares, say $20-$50 WAS-NYP instead of the current $50 - $150. Maybe code share with the commuter operators. It would allow more one seat service to intermediate stations, and capture some of the bus traffic.

 

 

OK, but is it not the case that there is no significant additional capability available into NYP?  So any new budget train capacity would displace some of the present premium cost capacity?

 

So here is an alternate scheme: instead of running the new budget trains to NYP, turn them around at Newark, and have the low cost passengers transfer to PATH to get into NYC.  Is there track capacity available for this kind of service between WAS and Newark?  Could it come close to recouping its cost, assuming you used commuter-style equipment?  Would it be worth running even at a substantial subsidy, if it provided transport to lower income people for whom the present NEC costs are out of reach?

 

Edit to add: I am of course assuming that there is excess PATH capacity under the Hudson available outside of rush hour; is this in fact the case?

 

Ainamkartma

 

 

You said the T word. I highly doubt out of towners will want to board a train stopping in Newark when they really want to go to New York. If you really want a cheap train, why not stop at New Carrolton south (tell them to T-word to Metro)? I can't even find a NJ Transit train that terminates in Newark (although I think a train from Newark to Philly makes sense the same way New York to Trenton does while New York to Philly wouldn't). Besides, why would Amtrak want to prop up PATH?


Trains Traveled:
 
Broadway Limited (CHI-Harrisburg, PA) 
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Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS)
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Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX)
California Zephyr (CHI-SLC, SLC-EMY)
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All I want for Amtrak is a direct train from Philly to Chicago in less than 24 hours 
 
 


#54 jis

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Posted 23 February 2017 - 07:38 AM

There are no facilities in Newark to turn a train without causing huge disruption to the NEC flow beyond the hourly Raritan Valley trains that are turned there. So just forget about it unless you have a very significant budget handy to redo the track layout at the Hudson Yard. And trust me, there are a dozen other places where that money would be better spent with better return.

#55 Lonestar648

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 02:49 PM

Airline meals are less than acceptable unless in First Class.  Have you seen what the airlines pay for the meals they service??  Its highway robbery!  Delta pays over $100 for an average First Class meal.  So, I do not see a savings financially or an improvement in food quality.  I am a 2M flyer with Delta and 1M with United, so I have experience with airline food.  To me, Amtrak has the kitchen on board, therefore the opportunity exists to improve the food quality and experience in a way the airlines can not.  The Dining experience is a critical component to the LD rail system.


Trains Traveled On:
Texas Eagle                                      Sunset Limited                            California Zephyr                                Southwest Chief                Empire Builder            Capitol Limited           Lake Shore limited (NYP & BOS)      Crescent
Kentucky Cardinal                             Cardinal                                       Pere Marquette                                  Wolverines                        Lincoln Service            Empire Service          Keystone Service                               Acelas
NE Regionals                                    Pioneer                                        Desert Wind                                       Broadway Limited             Three Rivers                Southwest Chief        Coast Starlight                                    Empire Service
 
Amtrak Miles Logged: over 197,000


#56 jis

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 03:13 PM

'Tis the labor cost which kills in highly constrained financial environment, which often causes people to do penny wise - pound foolish things, optimizing the immediate while shortchanging the overall performance.

 

Even the airlines after all these years are suddenly starting to improve their offerings in the front cabin and restarting food service in the rear cabin on domestic flights, and improving the offering in the rear on international flights. I suspect Amtrak will be following them in five or so years if things stay on course.



#57 Ryan

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 05:32 PM

Meals do not need to be over the top
gourmet to be considered acceptable. There is a wide gap that can be filled by meals that are far cheaper than $100/plate.

The food in Acela First is "airline style" and is perfectly adequate and costs significantly less than $100 ea.
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#58 neroden

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Posted 25 February 2017 - 03:46 PM

"What small changes would increase ridership exponentially?"

 

Caring enough to bother to put service disruption notices on the website.  Amtrak doesn't care enough apparently.


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#59 dlagrua

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 09:03 AM

IMO, good service and better OTP will in itself increase ridership. If the freight tracks get more congested in the future we may see alternative routes being reactivated. Look at the single track  through the Moffat Tunnel. It's a huge bottleneck for the CZ . If freight  traffic gets any heavier the UP could reopen the old Rio Grande Tennesee pass route that also goes through the Rockies... The track is still there but the route is currently mothballed and listed as out of service. UP has not abandoned the line. With a bit of maintenance, traffic through the Mofftat can be cut and Amtrak performance will increase.


Edited by dlagrua, 25 March 2017 - 09:05 AM.


#60 west point

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 12:25 PM

There are no facilities in Newark to turn a train without causing huge disruption to the NEC flow beyond the hourly Raritan Valley trains that are turned there. So just forget about it unless you have a very significant budget handy to redo the track layout at the Hudson Yard. And trust me, there are a dozen other places where that money would be better spent with better return.


This poster has long held the same idea. However With the shutdown yesterday Friday 24th due to the derailment at NYP both NJT and Amtrak seemed to reverse trains at NEWARK PENN the other way with too much confusion. May need to rethink ? Some one there yesterday could give us a thumbnail.

Been sometime since Newark Penn. For passengers inbound to NYC it has been relatively easy to board onto PATH. Now for the outbound unless changed the upper level discharge of PATH trains to get to a NJT or Amtrak trains always seemed awkward. Still the same ? The main item of PATH is how difficult for passengers getting NYP <> PATH 33rd street ?. Plus have to add in the few passengers from Empire trains to the NEC ?

Edited by west point, 25 March 2017 - 12:27 PM.





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