I visit family in the Phoenix area and have used the Flagstaff connection from the SWChief. When I learned the connection was available from Maricopa, I decided to try it.
The problem I had was booking it through Amtrak. From the west bound Sunset Limited it was no problem. For the eastbound SL I was told the connection wasn’t available and that was the connection I needed. I did the AU trick and called back for another agent. This agent said the shuttle is there but no guaranteed connection and she didn’t want to book it as she said the bus leaves before the train gets there. I think she was confused over the time zone. The supervisor I talked to next also came up with eastbound will work. I asked why they published both and never got an answer but I finally got the shuttle booked understanding I was on my own if the bus left.
The train trip part was great. No troubles transferring between trains and everyone on time. Good. We get into Maricopa in the early hours and when I first woke up, I checked the clock. We were an hour and change late at that point. I thought this will be the acid test, will the shuttle be there.
We detrained and there was a van with a stagecoach on it. Had my name and we were good to go. We had a quick 30 minute ride and the driver dropped us off at the rental car place I had ask him if he could stop at.
Coming back we had great service again. They arranged to pick us up near the airport and we were in Maricopa with plenty of time. The station lady was very helpful and worked with the shuttle company to make sure everyone was on the shuttle and then checked in at the station.
I had asked the drivers about the Amtrak confusion and they were less than happy. They said the shuttle is based on the train schedule so they don’t leave until the train arrives. They said they had vans and cars depending on the load but always made the run.
The only drawback is the highway from Maricopa to Phoenix. It is a short ride unless there is an accident. Family out there says no real way around it and they have been stuck there before. Other than that, great service and in this case Amtrak agents were misinformed about the shuttle. Hopefully this is no longer the case.