Jump to content




Help Support AmtrakTrains.com by donating using the link above or becoming a Supporting Member.

Photo

Lack of Amtrak-Commuter Railroad Interlining


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Anderson

Anderson

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,236 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 17 April 2017 - 01:24 AM

File this under "something that bugs me" but, aside from the Atlantic City Line, Amtrak doesn't bother to code for or include commuter railroads in its system. In cases where the commuter operator is "someone else" I can understand this, but Amtrak operates the MARC Penn Line, Metrolink, Shoreline East, and I think they have an MBTA contract as well. I can understand not wanting to cross-list, for example, WAS-BAL MARC service to avoid traffic "leakage" but there's no Amtrak service to Bowie State or Odenton and none is really foreseeable (and in the meantime, Amtrak could probably make an arrangement to book "commuter" tickets attached to long-haul trips at higher rates on its website and split the difference with the state). By comparison, VIA and GO interline in Toronto pretty smoothly. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Metrolink and MARC both use QuikTrak machines and you can print a ticket on Amtrak stock.

This bugs me because of the room to generate traffic in various locales from out-of-town: Locals may know where the commuter train can take them but I suspect being able to get out-of-towners to the "right" station (and giving them an idea how long the commuter train will take) can't hurt with ridership...and in many cases I suspect it would help. Even on a restricted basis, listing MARC trains as an option if Amtrak trains are sold out around a given time (or at least suggesting them as an alternative) would also seem to be a winner...I strongly suspect that Amtrak has lost a few pax traveling LYH-BAL because the train was sold out at WAS...but telling them "Hey, take Amtrak to WAS and connect to MARC" would work for that passenger and Amtrak would still get most of the fare.

I sort-of understand them not cooperating with some lines they don't also operate (if nothing else, ticketing systems not cooperating would be an issue) though even there I'd think it would be worthwhile to pursue a direct link option if you could get the commuter railroad to cooperate...and I suspect that being able to offer through ticketing might help them on some commuter contract bids.
Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#2 caravanman

caravanman

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,964 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nottingham, England.
  • Interests:Open minded travel, in which the journey is often as interesting as the destination...

Posted 17 April 2017 - 03:16 AM

Not having "joined up" transport links is such a shame. Broadly speaking, all operators first priority is to generate income, rather than satisfy public need. An interlinked system of surface transport across train, coach, and tram would be such a nice way to travel. The lack of which simply promotes the "might as well fly and hire a self drive car" mode of transport. 

 

Ed.



#3 Anderson

Anderson

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,236 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 17 April 2017 - 04:26 AM

Not having "joined up" transport links is such a shame. Broadly speaking, all operators first priority is to generate income, rather than satisfy public need. An interlinked system of surface transport across train, coach, and tram would be such a nice way to travel. The lack of which simply promotes the "might as well fly and hire a self drive car" mode of transport. 

 

Ed.

I can sort-of see it when one gets into subways and city buses (since they tend to increasingly have tap-pay systems) though I do think it would sure be nice if the Feds were able to turn around one day and say "Alright, we're going to pick a reasonably well-proven tap-payment system out of a hat and everyone is going to use it, Amtrak included".  It's more the LIRRs and Metras of the world that this is a bit confounding on.  The most Amtrak might have to do is program the machines to, say, make sure that a connector leg like this has its own leg (and I think they do that with the odd remaining "paper Thruway" ticket).


Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#4 Devil's Advocate

Devil's Advocate

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,245 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Америка
  • Interests:Travel by Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Posted 17 April 2017 - 05:10 AM

In cases where the commuter operator is "someone else" I can understand this...


What's the point of interlining if the only use cases are intracompany transfers? An airline that only interlines on company flights isn't really interlining at all. At least not in the contemporary meaning of the term. Same goes for Amtrak. Coordinated planning and operation of trains, planes, and buses is common in countries and cultures that view transportation issues as a universal benefit and shared sacrifice. Unfortunately, that's just not how we do things in America. Here it's every man, woman, and child for themselves. Around here whoever survives the demise of the others wins.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#5 fairviewroad

fairviewroad

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,134 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 17 April 2017 - 12:31 PM

File this under "something that bugs me" but, aside from the Atlantic City Line, Amtrak doesn't bother to code for or include commuter railroads in its system.

 

 

 

I agree with your entire post, but will point out that Amtrak offers the same sort of interline ticketing with ACE trains between San Jose and Stockton, connecting to the San Jouquins trains.However, its usefulness to Amtrak customers is rather limited. For one thing, it can only be done heading eastbound (connecting to S/B San Jouquins) because the first northbound San Jouquin of the day doesn't get to Stockton until after the last westbound ACE train has left. (There are Thruway busses at other times of the day)

 

Furthermore, with the exception of a few en route stations, this partnering with ACE doesn't add any new destinations to the Amtrak route system (like the Atlantic City connection does). It does mean San Jose folks don't have to travel up to Oakland to connect to a San Joaquin train down to Fresno/Bakersfield, so it's definitely useful in certain circumstances. I was not able to find an itinerary with the ACE train connecting to a LD train, though.



#6 Anderson

Anderson

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,236 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia

Posted 17 April 2017 - 05:35 PM

 

In cases where the commuter operator is "someone else" I can understand this...


What's the point of interlining if the only use cases are intracompany transfers? An airline that only interlines on company flights isn't really interlining at all. At least not in the contemporary meaning of the term. Same goes for Amtrak. Coordinated planning and operation of trains, planes, and buses is common in countries and cultures that view transportation issues as a universal benefit and shared sacrifice. Unfortunately, that's just not how we do things in America. Here it's every man, woman, and child for themselves. Around here whoever survives the demise of the others wins.

 

 

To flip that around, why aren't intracompany transfers doable to begin with?  That's the real facepalm-worthy bit.  At least in theory there are "issues" which would muck this up with another company (e.g. not being able to get your full ticket because the LIRR, for example, doesn't want to print off Amtrak-compatible tickets at their stations).  With "intracompany" operations that's not really an excuse.  That being said, given some of the trends towards mobile ticketing and the like this reasoning is going to start running pretty thin over time.

(With Metrolink there's also been a point made elsewhere that there's a stunning lack of schedule coordination between Amtrak and Metrolink timetables...which also comes off as glaring given that they're under the same management and that SCRRA owns a bunch of the relevant tracks.)

 

 

 

File this under "something that bugs me" but, aside from the Atlantic City Line, Amtrak doesn't bother to code for or include commuter railroads in its system.

 

 

 

I agree with your entire post, but will point out that Amtrak offers the same sort of interline ticketing with ACE trains between San Jose and Stockton, connecting to the San Jouquins trains.However, its usefulness to Amtrak customers is rather limited. For one thing, it can only be done heading eastbound (connecting to S/B San Jouquins) because the first northbound San Jouquin of the day doesn't get to Stockton until after the last westbound ACE train has left. (There are Thruway busses at other times of the day)

 

Furthermore, with the exception of a few en route stations, this partnering with ACE doesn't add any new destinations to the Amtrak route system (like the Atlantic City connection does). It does mean San Jose folks don't have to travel up to Oakland to connect to a San Joaquin train down to Fresno/Bakersfield, so it's definitely useful in certain circumstances. I was not able to find an itinerary with the ACE train connecting to a LD train, though.

 

You know, I remember that one as well now that you mention it.  So that's two cases (ACE and Atlantic City).


Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)

#7 cirdan

cirdan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,957 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 18 April 2017 - 06:44 AM


In the past, the timetables were in different formats, on different servers. The booking and ticket systems were on different servers again.

The sheer quantity of reinvention required to make a joined up system become realuty was just way too big to be considered.

Today that is changing. The likes of Google are providing third party schedules, and although there are still big ugly gaps in the system, you can in many cases already do any address to any address tyle enquiries, with Google Maps working out the best combination of walking, bus, train, whatever to get from here to there.

Maybe in future services such as Uber could also automatically connect in to fill the gaps where scheduled transportation doesn't go.

Similarly you could have more options, such as prefer train over bus, prefer direct connections over fast connections etc. These are small tweaks, not ground-breaking changes.

The booking side of it is still more challenging, but I think it's only a matter of time until Google will be offering this too.

#8 brianpmcdonnell17

brianpmcdonnell17

    Conductor

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 691 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 18 April 2017 - 11:40 AM

In the past, the timetables were in different formats, on different servers. The booking and ticket systems were on different servers again.

The sheer quantity of reinvention required to make a joined up system become realuty was just way too big to be considered.

Today that is changing. The likes of Google are providing third party schedules, and although there are still big ugly gaps in the system, you can in many cases already do any address to any address tyle enquiries, with Google Maps working out the best combination of walking, bus, train, whatever to get from here to there.

Maybe in future services such as Uber could also automatically connect in to fill the gaps where scheduled transportation doesn't go.

Similarly you could have more options, such as prefer train over bus, prefer direct connections over fast connections etc. These are small tweaks, not ground-breaking changes.

The booking side of it is still more challenging, but I think it's only a matter of time until Google will be offering this too.


Google Maps does allow one to select their preferred mode of transportation. It also allows somebody to choose whether to prioritize less walking, fewer transfers, etc. However, I agree that it would be great if it could recommend a route that gets you as far as possible via transit with a short Uber/taxi at the end rather than showing that there are no transit options.

File this under "something that bugs me" but, aside from the Atlantic City Line, Amtrak doesn't bother to code for or include commuter railroads in its system.
 
 

 
I agree with your entire post, but will point out that Amtrak offers the same sort of interline ticketing with ACE trains between San Jose and Stockton, connecting to the San Jouquins trains.However, its usefulness to Amtrak customers is rather limited. For one thing, it can only be done heading eastbound (connecting to S/B San Jouquins) because the first northbound San Jouquin of the day doesn't get to Stockton until after the last westbound ACE train has left. (There are Thruway busses at other times of the day)
 
Furthermore, with the exception of a few en route stations, this partnering with ACE doesn't add any new destinations to the Amtrak route system (like the Atlantic City connection does). It does mean San Jose folks don't have to travel up to Oakland to connect to a San Joaquin train down to Fresno/Bakersfield, so it's definitely useful in certain circumstances. I was not able to find an itinerary with the ACE train connecting to a LD train, though.

Can you book a ticket from Stockton to Southern California via ACE and the CS? If not, there is an opportunity for an ACE connection to an LD train. I haven't seen the ACE schedule in awhile, but it may even be possible northbound as well.
Routes Travelled: CL WAS-CHI, Card. CHI-WAS, Caro. CLT-RGH, CS SJC-LAX, Cre. BAL-ATL, EB MSP-CHI, ES NYG/NYP-NFL, LSL BOS-ALB, ML ALB-NYP, NER FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, PS LAX-ANA, Pen. NYP-PGH, Pie. RGH-DNC, SM ORL-NYP, SS FTL-WAS
New Routes: LSL NYP-CHI, CZ CHI-RIC, CS SJC-SEA, EB SEA-MSP

#9 neroden

neroden

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,215 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:Ithaca, NY
  • Interests:Please feel free to moderate my posts

Posted 18 April 2017 - 09:02 PM

I think it would take federal legislation to get them all to play nice.  Even state legislation didn't make Metra and the CTA play nice with each other.  And to have that, you'd have to have a working majority in the US Congress which actually *cared* about having a connected-up train system. 


--Nathanael--

Please feel free to moderate my posts.

#10 cirdan

cirdan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,957 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:48 AM

I think it would take federal legislation to get them all to play nice.  Even state legislation didn't make Metra and the CTA play nice with each other.  And to have that, you'd have to have a working majority in the US Congress which actually *cared* about having a connected-up train system.


Why aren^t they playing nice. I don't think they're being nasty for the sake of being nasty.

I don't know but my guess is that the problem is technology. Different agencies buy into different software systems that can't talk to one another, and nobody wants to switch once they're invested into something.

And if the problem is technology, I think the solution will also be technology. Software, system and ticketing suppliers will work out ways of making their systems talk to one another. Not necessarily because anybody in government says they have to, but because the incremental costs of doing that are diminishing.

When domestic electricity was first invented there were different voltages and frequencies and there was DC and AC etc. Each manufacturer tried to lock in their customers by creating barriers to compatibility.

Today all that is history and manufacturers have understood that being compatible is not bad for business.

Same for telephones. Same for computers etc.

#11 jis

jis

    Engineer

  • Gathering Team Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 20,190 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
  • Interests:Trains, Planes and Travel

Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:40 AM

I have been given to understand by reliable sources who have actually worked with the innards of Amtrak's reservation system that adding all the Commuter stations to the system would more than overwhelm its current capability. Within the realm of possibilities is just adding the Commuter systems as a few additional zone tickets from a specific transfer point. but there are interesting complexities of that too apparently.

 

So as usual, it is just a matter of finding the funding to do it.



#12 fairviewroad

fairviewroad

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,134 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 19 April 2017 - 11:12 AM

Can you book a ticket from Stockton to Southern California via ACE and the CS? If not, there is an opportunity for an ACE connection to an LD train. I haven't seen the ACE schedule in awhile, but it may even be possible northbound as well.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be possible on Amtrak's website. Which is too bad, since the schedule lines up very nicely for the westbound ACE to southbound Coast Starlight. It would be relatively easy to create this connection on your own, though, and I suspect some people do. It doesn't work in the opposite direction, though, since the northbound Coast Starlight arrives in San Jose well after the final eastbound ACE train leaves.

 

The thing is, other than Salinas, every stop on the Coast Starlight is reachable from Stockton by taking a San Jouquin south and connecting to a Thruway bus in either Hanford or Bakersfield. And for most of those destinations, that choice is available multiple times a day. Adding the ACE - Starlight connection would certainly fill in a small gap (Stockton-to-Salinas) as well as offer an all-rail itinerary (in one direction) to reach coastal destinations, but it's not really a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination.



#13 sechs

sechs

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,148 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:ATL

Posted 27 April 2017 - 01:53 PM

 

With Metrolink there's also been a point made elsewhere that there's a stunning lack of schedule coordination between Amtrak and Metrolink timetables...which also comes off as glaring given that they're under the same management and that SCRRA owns a bunch of the relevant tracks.
 

Where?

 

Even though they are not under the same management, Amtrak and Metrolink (and Coaster) coordinate on the Surf Line.  The LOSSAN Authority even puts out joint timetables.



#14 seat38a

seat38a

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,420 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Orange County California
  • Interests:Trains, Planes, And Web App Development

Posted 02 May 2017 - 05:34 PM

 

 

With Metrolink there's also been a point made elsewhere that there's a stunning lack of schedule coordination between Amtrak and Metrolink timetables...which also comes off as glaring given that they're under the same management and that SCRRA owns a bunch of the relevant tracks.
 

Where?

 

Even though they are not under the same management, Amtrak and Metrolink (and Coaster) coordinate on the Surf Line.  The LOSSAN Authority even puts out joint timetables.

 

Also to add, Metrolink ticket machines sell combined trips with Amtrak. It is one of the options when buying a ticket. Also, monthly pass holders of Coaster and Metrolink can jump on any Amtrak train operating between their station pairs. Finally, Amtrak operates certain trains for Metrolink and Coaster which are "combined" trains where anyone with Metrolink or Coaster ticket can jump on between certain station pairs. Other than a seamless ticketing system, LOSSAN has lots of coordination between Metrolink, Coaster, and Amtrak. Couple weeks ago when one of the Surfliners broke down due to flatspot, all Amtrak passengers were accommodated on Metrolink.



#15 ainamkartma

ainamkartma

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 03 May 2017 - 10:34 AM

My fantasy dream:

That google or one of the big tech companies will develop a ticket sales API that they offer for free to all the different transit systems in the country (or the world), so that you can go into google maps, search for the best set of connections to get from here to there, then buy _one ticket_ that covers the whole journey, including Amtrak, local transit, airlines, uber, or whatever.  And then google gets their investment back by showing you ads on your e-ticker or however their business model works.

 

Hard to do, but it's kind of impressive right now that google is already able to integrate different transit systems' timetables to show the user connections and complete journeys, scraped from totally incompatible timetable systems.

 

Ainam "and then I woke up to..." kartma






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users