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Thruway Bus layover timing?


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#1 Austruck

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 06:25 PM

Howdy!

 

If one of the leg options Amtrak gives you in a multi-city itinerary includes a short trip on a Thruway Bus, how much of a layover does one need in order to NOT miss that connection? Here's the leg as presented by Amtrak as one of my options:

 

 

11 Coast Starlight (SEA to EMY)

 

Depart: 9:35 AM, 5/8

Arrive: 8:10 AM, 5/9

 

5011 THRUWAY BUS (EMY to SFC)

 

Depart: 8:25 AM, 5/9

Arrive: 8:55 AM, 5/9 ...

 

As you can see, there is only a 15-minute gap there between arriving on the train and needing to catch the Thruway Bus. Can I assume this is just waaaay too risky, or are those buses specifically waiting for the CS folks to arrive and only THEN departing?

 

 

 

 



#2 wdscott

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 06:47 PM

That is a guaranteed connection. The bus will not depart until the train arrives and transferrees are transferred. Relax and enjoy.

#3 Rush2112

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 06:53 PM

Even if your train is an hour late there will be a bus waiting for it.

#4 Austruck

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 06:54 PM

Good, so it sounds as if I need to make sure that the next leg itself has a big enough gap after the Thruway Bus arrives then.... THAT I can do.  :)



#5 BCL

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 10:40 PM

It's possible to force a different bus via a "multi-city" booking. In that case the bus may be waiting for a different train. However, many of those buses are considered "unreserved" and you have the option of taking a later bus on the same ticket.

The Coast Starlight arrives in the morning at Emeryville. I suppose it's possible for a passenger to want to get breakfast there and take a later bus that might be connected to Capitol Corridor or the San Joaquin. Another option is to go to OKJ and take an OKJ-SFC bus. Maybe even book a bus that doesn't necessarily connect directly.

However, the 5011 is a guaranteed connection where the bus waits for 11 to arrive. I haven't taken it myself, but I have stood in front of it while baggage was being transferred. I was there to pick up my baggage.

#6 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 07:31 AM

Are you sure about the bus won't leave? What if it is owned by Greyhound or another carrier as part of their regular route? They're going to wait possibly 2-3 hours for a delayed train? That would be bad for whoever is on the bus. Many other Amtrak connections to other trains are guaranteed but my experience has been they don't always hold their own trains for late connections (CL passengers connecting in PGH the day I was on it were bused to HAR and the train I was supposed to get on at WAS left without me) although I have heard Amtrak does hold trains at times too (Chicago trains were held back according to this group). I can't imagine other bus companies will disrupt their regular routes for the sake of Amtrak passengers if Amtrak won't always hold their own trains for the sake of transfers. Now if the bus is exclusively Amtrak transfers then it makes all the sense the bus waits.


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#7 CCC1007

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 10:22 AM

Are you sure about the bus won't leave? What if it is owned by Greyhound or another carrier as part of their regular route? They're going to wait possibly 2-3 hours for a delayed train? That would be bad for whoever is on the bus. Many other Amtrak connections to other trains are guaranteed but my experience has been they don't always hold their own trains for late connections (CL passengers connecting in PGH the day I was on it were bused to HAR and the train I was supposed to get on at WAS left without me) although I have heard Amtrak does hold trains at times too (Chicago trains were held back according to this group). I can't imagine other bus companies will disrupt their regular routes for the sake of Amtrak passengers if Amtrak won't always hold their own trains for the sake of transfers. Now if the bus is exclusively Amtrak transfers then it makes all the sense the bus waits.

This situation is an Amtrak exclusive bus, paid for by the state of California, complete with Amtrak markings.

#8 BCL

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 10:41 AM

Are you sure about the bus won't leave? What if it is owned by Greyhound or another carrier as part of their regular route? They're going to wait possibly 2-3 hours for a delayed train? That would be bad for whoever is on the bus. Many other Amtrak connections to other trains are guaranteed but my experience has been they don't always hold their own trains for late connections (CL passengers connecting in PGH the day I was on it were bused to HAR and the train I was supposed to get on at WAS left without me) although I have heard Amtrak does hold trains at times too (Chicago trains were held back according to this group). I can't imagine other bus companies will disrupt their regular routes for the sake of Amtrak passengers if Amtrak won't always hold their own trains for the sake of transfers. Now if the bus is exclusively Amtrak transfers then it makes all the sense the bus waits.

This situation is an Amtrak exclusive bus, paid for by the state of California, complete with Amtrak markings.

I haven't seen Amtrak markings in a while. I thought they removed them and were planning using a new logo, but now they're blank. It's still a distinctive color scheme, mostly. Sometime they might use a plain, white bus.

amtrakbus.jpg

#9 MikefromCrete

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 10:47 AM

Are you sure about the bus won't leave? What if it is owned by Greyhound or another carrier as part of their regular route? They're going to wait possibly 2-3 hours for a delayed train? That would be bad for whoever is on the bus. Many other Amtrak connections to other trains are guaranteed but my experience has been they don't always hold their own trains for late connections (CL passengers connecting in PGH the day I was on it were bused to HAR and the train I was supposed to get on at WAS left without me) although I have heard Amtrak does hold trains at times too (Chicago trains were held back according to this group). I can't imagine other bus companies will disrupt their regular routes for the sake of Amtrak passengers if Amtrak won't always hold their own trains for the sake of transfers. Now if the bus is exclusively Amtrak transfers then it makes all the sense the bus waits.

 

These are dedicated buses that only run between Emeryville and San Francisco. They only reason they exist is to ferry passengers between the Emeryville train station and downtown San Francisco. The only schedule they have to meet is tied in with the trains. Their only passengers are Amtrak customers. They don;t have any other place to be. 



#10 BCL

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 12:33 PM


Are you sure about the bus won't leave? What if it is owned by Greyhound or another carrier as part of their regular route? They're going to wait possibly 2-3 hours for a delayed train? That would be bad for whoever is on the bus. Many other Amtrak connections to other trains are guaranteed but my experience has been they don't always hold their own trains for late connections (CL passengers connecting in PGH the day I was on it were bused to HAR and the train I was supposed to get on at WAS left without me) although I have heard Amtrak does hold trains at times too (Chicago trains were held back according to this group). I can't imagine other bus companies will disrupt their regular routes for the sake of Amtrak passengers if Amtrak won't always hold their own trains for the sake of transfers. Now if the bus is exclusively Amtrak transfers then it makes all the sense the bus waits.

 
These are dedicated buses that only run between Emeryville and San Francisco. They only reason they exist is to ferry passengers between the Emeryville train station and downtown San Francisco. The only schedule they have to meet is tied in with the trains. Their only passengers are Amtrak customers. They don;t have any other place to be.

It is possible to combine different combinations of buses. The only legal restriction from the state (which subsidizes these buses) is that an Amtrak bus segment must be booked with a rail segment, save a couple of routes specified in the law.

I've tried some really odd combinations, just with my commute. It made some sense when there was a 100 point AGR minimum per segment. One of the weird ones I did was a commute ride EMY-GAC, with a SFC-EMY bus segment. I got to San Francisco via VTA and Caltrain.

The connection from bus to train may not be guaranteed. It's easy enough for a bus waiting for up a few dozen passengers to wait for the train, but holding up a train when a bus is late is another matter. We had friends going on a connecting bus segment where the bus delayed by traffic in bad weather and the train didn't wait for them. It wasn't an LD train though, so they were accomodated on the next train. I thought the CS or CZ might wait a little bit for a bus, but past a point don't they typically just go, then maybe get a bus to catch up to the train?

#11 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 01:35 PM

Are you sure about the bus won't leave? What if it is owned by Greyhound or another carrier as part of their regular route? They're going to wait possibly 2-3 hours for a delayed train? That would be bad for whoever is on the bus. Many other Amtrak connections to other trains are guaranteed but my experience has been they don't always hold their own trains for late connections (CL passengers connecting in PGH the day I was on it were bused to HAR and the train I was supposed to get on at WAS left without me) although I have heard Amtrak does hold trains at times too (Chicago trains were held back according to this group). I can't imagine other bus companies will disrupt their regular routes for the sake of Amtrak passengers if Amtrak won't always hold their own trains for the sake of transfers. Now if the bus is exclusively Amtrak transfers then it makes all the sense the bus waits.

This situation is an Amtrak exclusive bus, paid for by the state of California, complete with Amtrak markings.
I haven't seen Amtrak markings in a while. I thought they removed them and were planning using a new logo, but now they're blank. It's still a distinctive color scheme, mostly. Sometime they might use a plain, white bus.

amtrakbus.jpg

I have noticed that the ORL/TPA-Ft. Myers, FL thruway buses now have Amtrak paint on them. These buses are operated by Martz but carry only Amtrak passengers and in the past just had red Martz letters on the side. The only indication they were Amtrak busses was the digital destination board. Now they have large blue Amtrak letters as well as the Amtrak logo on the side of the bus with only small Martz letters.
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#12 Austruck

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:00 PM

ARGH... another question as I am trying to finally book this trip!

 

If Amtrak offers two "pieces" as one leg/option as you're booking online (meaning you can't fiddle with the specifics inside that leg/poption but must choose it as a whole), and it consists of two TRAINS with a two-hour layover, is THAT a guaranteed connection? No buses in this option -- just two trains. Specifically, this:
 

SWC - arrives in LAX from KCY at 8:15 AM

CS - departs LAX to SEA at 10:10 AM, same day

 

This combo is presented as one segment option among many (the only one with no buses, and most definitely my preference).



#13 BCL

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:07 PM

I have noticed that the ORL/TPA-Ft. Myers, FL thruway buses now have Amtrak paint on them. These buses are operated by Martz but carry only Amtrak passengers and in the past just had red Martz letters on the side. The only indication they were Amtrak busses was the digital destination board. Now they have large blue Amtrak letters as well as the Amtrak logo on the side of the bus with only small Martz letters.


Depends on the route. Around here, all the short haul connecting buses between Emeryville/Oakland and San Francisco are operated by a company called SFO Airporter. You can probably guess what their primary business is by their name. There are probably different contractors used in different areas of California, but they're all subsidized by the state. We had a friend take Amtrak for a visit from Southern California, and they boarded the bus in Santa Barbara. It went on a long route through (among many other stops) King City (stopped at McDonalds), Salinas, San Jose, San Francisco, with the final stop in Emeryville where I picked them up. The bus had the operators' markings - I think Silverado Stages. However, their website hints that they also operate buses with Amtrak California markings.

http://silveradostag...d-route/amtrak/

This one has the clearest view of the bus operator. This was back when they used the old Amtrak California logo. It looks like the old San Francisco Shopping Center stop, which I think has been discontinued.

Amtrak_California_bus_no._349.JPG

There a a few bus companies that take Amtrak passengers as part of their regular route. I think if it's booked through Amtrak, the fare may be subsidized by the state. I know about YARTS to Yosemite. They accept cash fares, but I understand that they give highest priority to Amtrak customers with reservations. Capitol Corridor had connections through public bus services like Highway 17 Express and Monterey-Salinas Transit.

#14 the_traveler

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:18 PM

If you enter on the website "From ___ To ___" and get a result, those connections are guaranteed connections.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#15 Austruck

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:23 PM

If you enter on the website "From ___ To ___" and get a result, those connections are guaranteed connections.

Thanks. That was my concern. And yes, it was one of the choices/results when entering "From KCY to SEA" on that day. A one-package segment option not to be trifled with by mere mortals.  :D



#16 BCL

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 08:24 PM

I have noticed that the ORL/TPA-Ft. Myers, FL thruway buses now have Amtrak paint on them. These buses are operated by Martz but carry only Amtrak passengers and in the past just had red Martz letters on the side. The only indication they were Amtrak busses was the digital destination board. Now they have large blue Amtrak letters as well as the Amtrak logo on the side of the bus with only small Martz letters.


Just to clarify, I was just addressing the OP's case of the short-haul Emeryville to San Francisco bus. It's been over two years since the Amtrak California markings went off, and there hasn't been any replacement. Still, the color scheme is pretty easy to spot.

#17 BCL

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 08:38 PM

If you enter on the website "From ___ To ___" and get a result, those connections are guaranteed connections.

Thanks. That was my concern. And yes, it was one of the choices/results when entering "From KCY to SEA" on that day. A one-package segment option not to be trifled with by mere mortals.  :D

Guaranteed connection has a couple of meanings. For the bus you're thinking of taking, it means the bus typically won't leave unless the train arrives. I guess there could be outlying cases where the driver leaves if the train is extremely late. I could understand drivers limited to a maximum standby or total work time by law or union rules. I'm sure there are backup plans too for stuff like equipment issues. I had the station agent at the old Ferry Building station call my cell phone because the bus had broken down. I had been in the station talking to him, and he looked up my phone number through my reservation. I then to,d everyone else waiting.

Another meaning for guaranteed connection means that they may not actually guarantee that the connection will be made, but that they'll do what they can to make things right. Read on AU, and all sorts of things are done if a connection is close to being missed or does get missed. They might hire a driver/bus/taxi to catch up to a train. If they can't do that, they might put someone on the next train and even pay for a hotel room and meals if that train is the next day.

#18 Austruck

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 12:30 AM

I'm on this trip for the adventure, for the trip itself -- to write about it. So, it's not like I'm going to miss a family wedding or something if there is a missed connection or something goes awry. In fact, a small misadventure or two would probably serve me well.

 

(Oh sure, I say that now...)  :D



#19 BCL

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 01:47 AM

I'm on this trip for the adventure, for the trip itself -- to write about it. So, it's not like I'm going to miss a family wedding or something if there is a missed connection or something goes awry. In fact, a small misadventure or two would probably serve me well.
 
(Oh sure, I say that now...)  :D


Oh, you've done it now. Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.

I know there are odd things that can happen. Of course a dozen or so passengers stuck on their bus when an active shooting incident (this has happened before) closes the Bay Bridge isn't going to hold up a train with hundreds of passengers. You're thinking of taking the Coast Starlight, which used to be known as the Coast Starlate for constant delays usually attributed to Union Pacific, sometimes up to 12-15 hours. I never took it in those days, but some people told me they thought it could be intentional. The thought was that were giving their own freight traffic higher priority even though the laws that freed the railroads from having to provide passenger service said that Amtrak traffic was supposed to be given highest priority. I've heard some people seeing freight train after freight train going by (while the Amtrak train stayed for hours on a siding) assumed freight had priority.



http://www.sfgate.co...ain-2491613.php

But Alan Miller, also with the Train Riders Association of California, said Union Pacific is failing to uphold an agreement with Amtrak and the federal government to give Amtrak trains priority on the track. This agreement, part of the 1970s negotiations that allowed Union Pacific to discontinue its passenger rail service, requires Union Pacific to give Amtrak trains the right of way.

Because right of way is determined by Union Pacific dispatchers in Omaha, Neb., advocacy groups say there is no way to be sure that Union Pacific actually is giving Amtrak priority over freight.

Passengers who rode the train late last week reported seeing so many freight trains pass them by, they thought the freights had the automatic right of way.

If you want to know what adventure is, ask an Amtrak employee what "trespasser incident" means. I've only experienced it once.

#20 Austruck

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 11:13 AM

Well, I'm going to be writing a book about this trip, partly while ON this trip, so a few small mishaps are almost hoped for. Almost. This trip is my biggest bucket list item, and the book project is a more recent add-on in order to justify the trip in my own mind. 

 

As long as I don't end up in jail or the hospital, I'll call the trip a success.  :)






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