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Amtrak ending certain discounts in 2018?


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#1 calwatch

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 11:01 PM

As a state supported corridor you can set your own fare policy, but it appears the following will be the default Amtrak discount system.

 

https://t.co/aoq6o22lQY

 

Need for Additional Fare Policy Modifications

 

On November 8, 2017, the LOSSAN Agency was notified by Amtrak of upcoming changes to Amtrak’s national tariff policy. A number of modifications are being instituted with the implementation currently scheduled for January 9, 2018. The most significant of these are reductions to various passenger discount programs and the complete elimination of others. The proposed changes reduce the discount for seniors and the disabled from 15 percent down to 10 percent, with age of eligibility for the senior discount being increased from 62 to 65 years. The national student discount is being discontinued. Current policy allows for two children to receive a 50 percent discount per each full fare paying adult. The proposed adjustment would make that ratio one child per adult. Another adjustment being implemented in the first quarter of 2018 is the elimination of the 10 percent discount offered to American Automobile Association members.

 

The LOSSAN Agency has expressed serious reservations about many of these adjustments to Amtrak and has rejected a number of these changes. The proposed changes to the Amtrak tariff policy would adversely impact students, seniors and the disabled, segments of our ridership who may be on fixed incomes and have limited choices concerning methods of transportation. Staff recommends the LOSSAN Agency adopt a revised fare and tariff policy that maintains the current discounts. The details of the proposed fare and tariff policy are shown in Attachment B. Included in the fare and tariff policy are only those discounts that would vary from the currently proposed Amtrak national tariff policy. Items such as the discount for active military are not impacted by the proposed changes, and thus are not included in the LOSSAN Agency fare and tariff policy.



#2 bratkinson

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 12:50 AM

I can understand Amtrak's reluctance to alter the fare structure for the SAN-LAX-SLO corridor, even though it is a state funded operation. 

 

By varying from the 'standard' pricing used by Amtrak, including discounts, it will require some expenditure of manpower to modify the pricing algorithms already in place.  It's likely far more than a simple couple of lines coding change.  Throw in extensive program testing to ensure not only that it works correctly, including with a variety of through-fare computations (CHI-SAN, for example), but also ensure you didn't BREAK something seemingly unrelated, such as child pricing on an Acela, or 50% companion fare discounts on other trains, etc, etc. 

 

Then to be given a window of only 4 weeks to get it done, including the Christmas holiday season (I used to take the entire week off), and go through all the hokus pokus of defining the project, doing a cost analysis, present it to management, get their approval, budgeting, tracking, meetings, more meetings 'til you puke, THEN find someone available and willing to take on the project AND get it done by 1/1...The Dilbert cartoons so perfectly capture the corporate 'reality' these days...need I say more?   



#3 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 08:00 AM

Eliminating the AAA discount?

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#4 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 08:24 AM

I can understand Amtrak's reluctance to alter the fare structure for the SAN-LAX-SLO corridor, even though it is a state funded operation. 
 
By varying from the 'standard' pricing used by Amtrak, including discounts, it will require some expenditure of manpower to modify the pricing algorithms already in place.  It's likely far more than a simple couple of lines coding change.  Throw in extensive program testing to ensure not only that it works correctly, including with a variety of through-fare computations (CHI-SAN, for example), but also ensure you didn't BREAK something seemingly unrelated, such as child pricing on an Acela, or 50% companion fare discounts on other trains, etc, etc. 
 
Then to be given a window of only 4 weeks to get it done, including the Christmas holiday season (I used to take the entire week off), and go through all the hokus pokus of defining the project, doing a cost analysis, present it to management, get their approval, budgeting, tracking, meetings, more meetings 'til you puke, THEN find someone available and willing to take on the project AND get it done by 1/1...The Dilbert cartoons so perfectly capture the corporate 'reality' these days...need I say more?   

How do you know that they haven’t already begun, and maybe finished, the computer changes are or will be ready to roll it out in January?


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#5 xyzzy

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 09:23 AM

Airlines eliminated these discounts decades ago. With a former airline CEO running Amtrak, I'm not surprised that Amtrak is eliminating them. I wonder if the NARP -- whoops, RPA discount will go too. 


Edited by xyzzy, 07 December 2017 - 09:24 AM.


#6 TiBike

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 01:07 PM

I wonder. What other service changes are planned to take effect then? Could 9 January 2018 be D-Day?

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#7 niemi24s

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 01:27 PM

As a well-qualified geezer if my discount is cut from 15% to 10% gingo from NYP to LAX on the LSL and SWC will cost an additional $14 at low bucket or an additional $22 at middle bucket.  

 

<gasp!> :P



#8 amtrakpass

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 01:37 PM

The change i would disagree most is reducing discounts for children. By definition they are dependent on their parents and polcies should make it easier for parents to bring them along, not harder. Yes there are some well to do people who could afford it regardless but why make it difficult for regular people to bring their kids when they are the next generation of riders

#9 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 01:55 PM

Why is It children are discounted at all? They take up the same amount of seat space as an adult.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#10 Ryan

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 03:11 PM

By volume, my kids take up way less space. :D
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#11 GaSteve

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 03:19 PM

There are also major changes coming to the Trails and Rails program operated jointly with the National Park Service.  I'll post more here when I have a chance.



#12 Charles785

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 08:30 PM

I'm pretty sure these various discounts never did apply to the sleeper car charges which by far always made up the bulk of my Amtrak charges.  As a sort of old guy I always got the seniors discount but, frankly, I wondered why I should have gotten any kind of a discount on the basic rail fare just because I'm old.

 

And certainly the age of 62 is just not old in this day and age anyway.  If there continues to be a seniors discount my thoughts are that the minimum age should be bumped up to at least 67 which is the current full retirement age as defined by Social Security.

 

From an Amtrak revenue standpoint, since so many folks 62+ are Amtrak customers, it probably makes financial sense to eliminate what's referred to as a seniors discount for rail fares. I doubt if losing the seniors discount will persuade my peers not to use Amtrak, and besides, anything we can do to enhance Amtrak revenues relative to their expenses will make them look better to Congress.



#13 FrensicPic

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 08:54 PM

When one purchases a bedroom or roomette ticket, the "accommodation charge" does not receive any discount. The basic rail fair, which is eligible for a discount, is a pretty small portion of the overall fare and is not a large part of the overall fare. Similar with business class. If you are purchasing only coach tickets, the discount would be more noticeable.


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#14 me_little_me

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 09:15 PM

You mean we dog food eating seniors, underpaid by Social Security, soon to be overpaying for Medicare, living in nursing homes, with nobody but the massive AARP PAC defending us, are going to get our rail fares raised to the point where we'll never be able to leave home again? Heck, we can't fly because of all the wheelchairs, canes, walkers, braces and metal parts make the TSA suspect us of being worse than ISIS! We can't drive because other drivers don't like the idea we drive 20 in the left lane of the freeway and the police claim that our cars didn't really jump from reverse to forward on their own. We can't take buses because the criminals take our last $2 and our small bundle of clothes. Oh! Well! I guess life on a cruise ship day after day isn't all that horrible.

 

There are also major changes coming to the Trails and Rails program operated jointly with the National Park Service.  I'll post more here when I have a chance.

 

My guess is that Amtrak is going to make those parasites pay their own way. It's about time. All the rangers do is make the trip interesting and educational for the passengers, answer questions about the country being traversed, give good talks, and in general make the time go by with facts, humor and helpful comments. The National Park Service can afford to pay their railfare along with their salaries. Besides, their uniforms are dull! And those train volunteers. Just a bunch of foamers who'd probably be willing to pay full fare coach when they are assigned at th last minute.

 

Make the Juvenile Delinquents, foamer NARPers, car-driving AUTOMOBILE Association members, squeaky cheap rail-passers pay more so we we poor seniors who only have multi-million dollar IRAs can ride at a discount.

 

And for those who cruelly mentioned that airlines don't give senior discounts, may I remind you our PAC can get a law passed to order them to do so. Glad you thought of it.



#15 bratkinson

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:01 PM

 

I can understand Amtrak's reluctance to alter the fare structure for the SAN-LAX-SLO corridor, even though it is a state funded operation. 
 
By varying from the 'standard' pricing used by Amtrak, including discounts, it will require some expenditure of manpower to modify the pricing algorithms already in place.  It's likely far more than a simple couple of lines coding change.  Throw in extensive program testing to ensure not only that it works correctly, including with a variety of through-fare computations (CHI-SAN, for example), but also ensure you didn't BREAK something seemingly unrelated, such as child pricing on an Acela, or 50% companion fare discounts on other trains, etc, etc. 
 
Then to be given a window of only 4 weeks to get it done, including the Christmas holiday season (I used to take the entire week off), and go through all the hokus pokus of defining the project, doing a cost analysis, present it to management, get their approval, budgeting, tracking, meetings, more meetings 'til you puke, THEN find someone available and willing to take on the project AND get it done by 1/1...The Dilbert cartoons so perfectly capture the corporate 'reality' these days...need I say more?   

How do you know that they haven’t already begun, and maybe finished, the computer changes are or will be ready to roll it out in January?

 

 

As you indicated, it could have already been started. 

 

But as a retired mainframe computer consultant/analyst/programmer (my first retirement 17+ yrs ago), the programmers doing the work are 'at the bottom of the food chain' in terms of projects at large organizations.  The project gets proposed (in this case, by the tariff department), it gets kicked around, changed, up and down the chain of command for a while, and finally gets approved.  Then it has to be studied from scratch from the IT perspective to determine what has to be done, make estimates of time and staff requirements, and, of course, costs.  Why studied again?  Because in corporate environments, IT is the LAST to know there even IS a project and they are expected to do <whatever> in a usually impossibly short time frame.  Years ago, I was taken off a project at a Big 3 auto manufacturer and was told to fully start over on a failed attempt at automated manufacturing scheduling after the employee responsible was was terminated for not even being close to making the required factory startup date 2 weeks hence.  I literally worked night and day to prevent two full factories of workers being sent home on new model year startup day and succeeded.  Another client pulled me off one project to write a completely new customer billing system and have it done in 2 weeks.  When it was done, they complained to my management that I was late on the project I was originally assigned!

 

Throw in that as far as I can tell from watching Amtrak job postings just for fun, they have a terrible rate of staff turnover in IT.  Jumping into several thousand lines of code you've never seen before, gaining a thorough understanding, and then making changes is the most difficult part of IT, in my opinion.  They expect people with experience in everything, a masters degree or better, and pay peanuts in one of the most expensive cities in the USA.  I recall one nationally known client I and 7-8 of my coworker contractors worked at on 2nd shift where WE wrote the new systems and programs and their own employees spent all day, every day 'fighting fires' from the poor quality programming that former employees had written.  Their turnover was over 200% per year according to their manager!

 

Am I jaded against large organizations???  Absolutely!    



#16 dlagrua

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 09:04 AM

All the conversation here is about one simple and basic thing. Fares are going up but it may not be a good move.  Since much of Amtrak's ridership are older people and seniors, eliminating discounts could have a negative effect and result in lower revenue  The reason why you give discounts is to attract business. Many seniors are on a fixed income and make purchase decisions based partly on the discount. Couples with children are given incentives to take them on a trip as they don't have to pay full fare for them. Without the discount incentives, ridership could be affected. I guess that we will see. 



#17 Bob Dylan

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 09:14 AM

All the conversation here is about one simple and basic thing. Fares are going up but it may not be a good move.  Since much of Amtrak's ridership are older people and seniors, eliminating discounts could have a negative effect and result in lower revenue  The reason why you give discounts is to attract business. Many seniors are on a fixed income and make purchase decisions based partly on the discount. Couples with children are given incentives to take them on a trip as they don't have to pay full fare for them. Without the discount incentives, ridership could be affected. I guess that we will see. 

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#18 City of Miami

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 10:23 AM

The senior discount is the only one applicable to me and I rarely, very rarely use it. Since I ride mainly on the NEC and book 2 weeks in advance the Saver Fare is less than the discounted fare. As we all know, if we pay with points the # of pts required is based on the Value Fare with no discounts applied.



#19 Ryan

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 10:50 AM

All the conversation here is about one simple and basic thing. Fares are going up but it may not be a good move.  Since much of Amtrak's ridership are older people and seniors, eliminating discounts could have a negative effect and result in lower revenue  The reason why you give discounts is to attract business. Many seniors are on a fixed income and make purchase decisions based partly on the discount. Couples with children are given incentives to take them on a trip as they don't have to pay full fare for them. Without the discount incentives, ridership could be affected. I guess that we will see.


You've been saying the same thing your entire time here, and the dire consequences have never come to pass. Keep it up, maybe one day you'll be right.

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#20 jamess

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:27 PM

Why is It children are discounted at all? They take up the same amount of seat space as an adult.

 

Because it is one wallet buying 4 (or more) tickets.

 

Scenario 1: 2 adults pay, 2 kids free. Amtrak gets 2 fares

Scenario 2: 2 adults pay, 2 kids pay. Trip to expensive, Amtrak gets 0 fares.






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