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Public's Perception of Amtrak


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#21 tricia

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 10:00 AM

 

I do wonder if some of those negative raters would've rated Amtrak more fairly, if more of those reviewers were aware Amtrak is at the mercy of freight railroads(for their long distance trains) when it comes to how quickly it'll arrive into stations?


Passengers don't care about that crap. They only care about price, schedule, and reliability. When they are burned, they don't care why. And they are likely not to return.

 

 

I agree with VentureForth, but would add "courtesy." I think most people are apt to be more forgiving about, say, a train running late if the reason for it is explained in a polite and timely manner, and less apt to forgive an experience with staff being rude, nasty, or indifferent. Amtrak's inconsistent--and sometimes poor--customer service is both bad for Amtrak in itself, and exacerbates customers' dissatisfaction with other problems.



#22 Chessie

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 10:31 AM

I quite agree about setting the appropriate customer expectation, especially in LD traveling. But it can be a little tricky to do it without sounding ridiculous.

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, the train is frequently hours late" just doesn't sound quite enticing. :giggle:

Edited by Chessie, 15 June 2017 - 10:31 AM.


#23 FreeskierInVT

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 12:18 PM

When booking a ticket on VIA Rail's Canadian, a message in bolded blue text appears to try and set the customer's expectation:

 

 

 

While VIA endeavors to operate on time, the realities of increased freight traffic on tracks that we do not own may give rise to significant delays. We suggest that you do not arrange connecting transportation on the day of your arrival.

 

While I haven't yet ridden the Canadian, I definitely think this is a good idea to have posted while booking tickets since the train is frequently many hours late. Perhaps Amtrak should have something similar.


Routes taken:

Vermonter (38), Ethan Allen Express (7), Northeast Regional (20), Acela Express (4; 2 BC/2 FC), Downeaster (9; 3 w/ Dome Car), Lake Shore Limited- Boston (1), Hiawatha (2), Lake Shore Limited- New York (1), Maple Leaf (1), Adirondack (3; 1 w/ Dome Car), Keystone (3), Pennsylvanian (1), Springfield Shuttle (6), Autumn Express (Nov. 3, 2013)

 

VIA Rail Canada: Ocean (R/T Montreal-Halifax)

 

Total Amtrak/VIA mileage:   19,316

Amtrak mileage in 2016:       2,702

Amtrak mileage in 2015:        362

Amtrak/VIA Mileage in 2014: 7,858

Amtrak Mileage in 2013:        6,154

 

LIRR: 3,598 total miles - 86 trips totaling 145 trains

 

Upcoming:

Canada Youth 150 Trip

VIA Corridor: Montreal-Toronto, Toronto-Montreal

Canadian: Toronto-Winnipeg, Winnipeg-Edmonton, Edmonton-Vancouver, Vancouver-Jasper, Jasper-Toronto

Skeena: Jasper-Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert-Jasper

Ocean: Montreal-Moncton, Moncton-Montreal

 

 

 


#24 Lonestar648

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 03:34 PM

I will say this about flying, as soon as you need to be at someplace at a specific time and you schedule your flights with hour or two buffer, the airlines make you pay for it. I have found arriving the day of with connecting flights, when your schedule is flexible always works out as planned. It is those day of inflexibility that I have learned to travel the day before. The last thing you want to do is postpone a meeting with a CEO or Board of Directors. So those who say one can always depend on the airlines, hasn't traveled much. Flying 150-200 legs a year plus train train travel, you quickly learn.

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


#25 ehbowen

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 06:11 PM

I will say this about flying, as soon as you need to be at someplace at a specific time and you schedule your flights with hour or two buffer, the airlines make you pay for it.


On my return from my recent conference and vacation in St. Louis, we had a 6 hour delay into Houston due to track work and a service disruption (the previous northbound Eagle had arrived into St. Louis too late for the operating crew to get their required rest before scheduled departure, and due to Amtrak's penny pinching there was no one available on the extra board). There were several complaints from other Amtrak passengers...but the very next day I also heard griping from some airline passengers who had been traveling via Phoenix and had been held up five hours due to weather. C'est la vie....


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#26 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 06:17 PM

In terms of percentage of travel time, a 1-2 hour delay for a 20 hour trip between NYP and CHI would be the equivalent of a 6-12 minute delay on a 2 hour flight between the two. If a passenger traveling between O'Hare and LaGuardia/JFK would accept a 1 hour delay then the equivalent on Amtrak would be a 10 hour delay (a half hour delay on UA/AA would be a five hour delay on the LSL). If you're traveling LD, you should reasonably accept the possibilities of longer delays (ignoring the reasons for delays). I'm guessing Greyhound won't be much better if God forbid you took a bus between New York and Chicago, there will inevitably be traffic jams (one big reason I prefer trains to buses).


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)!
 
 


#27 dogbert617

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 07:44 PM

 

 

 

I do wonder if some of those negative raters would've rated Amtrak more fairly, if more of those reviewers were aware Amtrak is at the mercy of freight railroads(for their long distance trains) when it comes to how quickly it'll arrive into stations?


Passengers don't care about that crap. They only care about price, schedule, and reliability. When they are burned, they don't care why. And they are likely not to return.

 

Whether a passenger comes out of an experience feeling burned depends a lot on their expectations going in.  I noticed a lot of complaints from people who booked LD train trips expecting to be somewhere/attend some event/meet up with someone within an hour or two of the scheduled arrival.  Experienced Amtrak riders know that that's a recipe for disaster - that LD trains are often several hours late (for reasons that are not always Amtrak's fault), so if you absolutely need to be somewhere at a particular time, you need to have a scheduled arrival time that's much earlier, or you need to choose another mode of transportation.  

 

It frustrates me a lot that we can't count on Amtrak schedules to be very much more than suggestions, but so far that hasn't been enough to put me off Amtrak entirely, because I'm aware of the reality of the situation and am able to plan around it.  I feel bad for the people who aren't.

 

You're right Venture, that some people don't care no matter what. And you're right too Johanna that people have various levels of expectations of what a LD train trip will be like, going into doing that trip. That some will obviously be more understanding of LD train delays, and that others(like what Venture said) will inevitably be upset if there are any delays(even very minor ones) off of the posted train schedule.

 

 

 

 

I do wonder if some of those negative raters would've rated Amtrak more fairly, if more of those reviewers were aware Amtrak is at the mercy of freight railroads(for their long distance trains) when it comes to how quickly it'll arrive into stations?


Passengers don't care about that crap. They only care about price, schedule, and reliability. When they are burned, they don't care why. And they are likely not to return.

 

 

I agree with VentureForth, but would add "courtesy." I think most people are apt to be more forgiving about, say, a train running late if the reason for it is explained in a polite and timely manner, and less apt to forgive an experience with staff being rude, nasty, or indifferent. Amtrak's inconsistent--and sometimes poor--customer service is both bad for Amtrak in itself, and exacerbates customers' dissatisfaction with other problems.

 

I don't know if I've been lucky for the most part over the years, that I've encountered more good than bad employees whenever I've ridden Amtrak trains? It's always possible. I'm sure there are some apathetic and not good employees who do sadly make some first time travelers annoyed enough, that it's hard for them to want to give Amtrak another shot after that?

 

 

When booking a ticket on VIA Rail's Canadian, a message in bolded blue text appears to try and set the customer's expectation:

 

 

 

While VIA endeavors to operate on time, the realities of increased freight traffic on tracks that we do not own may give rise to significant delays. We suggest that you do not arrange connecting transportation on the day of your arrival.

 

While I haven't yet ridden the Canadian, I definitely think this is a good idea to have posted while booking tickets since the train is frequently many hours late. Perhaps Amtrak should have something similar.

That's actually a good idea, what VIA posts as a notice to not expect trains to always stick to the posted schedule due to freight railroad delays.  I kinda wish Amtrak posted a notice like this, when one books their tickets on their website.


Edited by dogbert617, 15 June 2017 - 07:45 PM.


#28 Lonestar648

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 08:05 PM

At least for the LD trains a notice should display when the customer goes to purchase the Cart selections.  There could be a hidden table of the long distance train numbers that could trigger a line of code for a box to display on the screen with the Alert like VIA.  If you wanted to take it another level, there could be an acknowledgement box to be checked and remembered in the reservation data record.. I wouldn't display this message for the NEC trains and maybe some others that freight doesn't affect.  


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


#29 VentureForth

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:09 AM

Disney [used to] train employees on the fundamentals of customer service using the SCSE model - Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency. If prioritized in that order, each tenant fuels the other. For example, if you have the best looking show, but lack safety, it for nothing. The best efficiency without courtesy is also undesirable.

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Completed Routes: Capitol Limited, Palmetto
Also Ridden: Carolinian, Crescent, Pacific Surfliner, Piedmont, Southwest Chief, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Texas Eagle


#30 Chatter163

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:20 AM

In terms of percentage of travel time, a 1-2 hour delay for a 20 hour trip between NYP and CHI would be the equivalent of a 6-12 minute delay on a 2 hour flight between the two. If a passenger traveling between O'Hare and LaGuardia/JFK would accept a 1 hour delay then the equivalent on Amtrak would be a 10 hour delay (a half hour delay on UA/AA would be a five hour delay on the LSL). If you're traveling LD, you should reasonably accept the possibilities of longer delays (ignoring the reasons for delays). I'm guessing Greyhound won't be much better if God forbid you took a bus between New York and Chicago, there will inevitably be traffic jams (one big reason I prefer trains to buses).

What is the basis for this formula?

Edited by Chatter163, 16 June 2017 - 09:20 AM.


#31 Dave Van

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:35 AM

Many people that encounter my online  travel log did not know Amtrak was still around.........


25000+ miles on Amtrak to So Cal.....

Read about my trips.......

http://www.currtail.com


#32 jis

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:51 AM

 

In terms of percentage of travel time, a 1-2 hour delay for a 20 hour trip between NYP and CHI would be the equivalent of a 6-12 minute delay on a 2 hour flight between the two. If a passenger traveling between O'Hare and LaGuardia/JFK would accept a 1 hour delay then the equivalent on Amtrak would be a 10 hour delay (a half hour delay on UA/AA would be a five hour delay on the LSL). If you're traveling LD, you should reasonably accept the possibilities of longer delays (ignoring the reasons for delays). I'm guessing Greyhound won't be much better if God forbid you took a bus between New York and Chicago, there will inevitably be traffic jams (one big reason I prefer trains to buses).

What is the basis for this formula?

 

Philly's random theories of course. No one other than him can come up with such utter nonsense. :)

 

In real life what matters is how badly is your plan impacted at your destination, irrespective of how long the original trip was. So notwithstanding whether it was a two hour trip or a two day trip, a delay of one hour has exactly the same effect. Now of course if you already know that your means of transportation is so unreliable that you plan for a ten hour delay, that is a different matter. but at least I, who travels by Amtrak 10,000 miles or more each year, do not ever plan on a ten hour delay on Amtrak whereas I routinely work around one hour delays on my less than three hour flight from Orlando to Newark (which happens at least once every other month (not necessarily the delay but the flight. Usually it arrives on time or earlier). The effect of the latter delay is relatively minor. OTOH, if I knew that a train from Orlando to New York was running ten hours late, I would most likely cancel the ticket and fly instead, even accepting the one hour delay if even if known a priori.

 

In case of air travel, specially on major routes, one difference is that with a 30 mins or one hour delay you can usually get a different connecting flight within a couple of hours. With Amtrak's once a day schedule along its major routes you get to a 24 hour delay if you get hit with an equivalent five or six hour delay at a connection point.



#33 Lonestar648

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 03:47 PM

With the airlines getting their capacities in 90% - 100% on most flights, the chances of getting on another flight are rapidly decreasing.  My son was flying back to DFW from PR.  The inbound aircraft was a couple hours late.  Due to thunderstorms in SE Texas he was flown to Chicago, that flight arriving 20 minutes after his connection left.  Because the flights were full to DFW, he had to check each gate through the night and all the next day for an open seat.  His guaranteed seat was 30 hours after he arrive.  Weather at ORD was fine, it was that both UA, AA, DL, etc. were oversold on all the flights.  My son's Chairman of the Board flying back to Boston from PR had to wait over two days to get any seat, first or coach, and he paid premium first class fare and is a platinum frequent flyer, there were just not available seats.  How is this better than Amtrak?  Problem is that people run into these problems flying but still expect perfection from Amtrak.


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


#34 jis

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 05:10 PM

Yes, absolutely. Bad things do happen while flying too. But the question is whether it happens often enough. For example I have been through over 12 misconnects over the last year and in all cases I managed to get an alternative within an hour or two including one truly convoluted reroute through Munich to India.

I am sure some day I will get stuck for two days somewhere again. My worst so far is 22 hours and a routing going the other way round the world from the one originally intended.

Bottom line ... s**t happens no matter what you are riding and one deals with it the best one can given the circumstances presented.




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