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Everything posted by tricia

  1. That story line is still voodoo economics. (For those of you born too late, that's quoting GHW Bush on Reaganomics, when he was running against Ronald Reagan.)
  2. tricia

    Amtrak Announcements

    On the SWC last month, I found the diner announcements really intrusive, although I'm not sure what the alternative was given that the train was very full (a few days before Christmas), and the diner might have been understaffed. The LSA did a magnificently efficient and cheerful job of feeding absolutely everyone who wanted meals in the diner (coach as well as sleeper passengers). But not only were reservations called by time ("11:30 lunch reservations please come to the diner now"), but EVERY waitlisted party was called by name, as was everyone signed up for a reservation by time who didn't show up at that time when it was called. I know this because at "last call" she said that if she had a reservation for you, she'd already called your name, and if you wanted to eat you needed to come to the diner right away. This added up to every-few-minutes announcements for several hours three times a day. By the end of the second mealtime on the train, I was ready to take an ice pick to the speaker in my roomette.
  3. I'm uncomfortable when "the extremes" are framed to include points of view that don't deserve to be part of the debate. Climate-change denial is fundamentally dishonest or delusional, and including it in the debate shifts "the middle." Which is exactly what the corporarate shills responsible for pushing it intend. I've also become increasingly "defensive" about pointing out this sort of false equivalency when I see it happening, in part because of the response to what happened in Charlottesville, cited by Bob Dylan above. (Full disclosure: My husband probably would have been among the crowd protesting white supremacy in Charlottesville that day, if a schedule conflict hadn't nixed that.) To quote the late Solomon Burke: If we don't say it's wrong, that says it's right.
  4. Let's try this from another angle: Actual truth is more likely to be discovered by someone who's looking for it in good faith, rather than seeking to deny the truth for financial benefit. Looking for truth somewhere in the middle between those who are seeking it, and those who seek to deny it, is a fool's errand. Framing the two camps as duelling "extremists" implies that their views have equal value (or lack thereof).
  5. The vast majority (within a few points of 100%) of scientists doing research on the subject agree that anthropogenic climate change is real, and is a serious problem. The voices of the tiny minority who disagree have been amplified (and in at least some cases funded) by corporations whose business plans rely on continued burning of fossil fuels, and by the ideologues they fund. Calling the vast majority of scientists "extremists" because they disagree with an extreme and knowingly dishonest position staked out by corporate shills is ludicrous. Getting back to Amtrak: Tracks ending up under water as sea level rises might or might not be a problem. Extreme weather events, caused or exacerbated by changing climate, are certainly something Amtrak ought to be looking to prepare for. Just as the US military is doing. And just as large corporations with large stakes in this are doing--even corporations that are funding climate change denial.
  6. Historically, there have been many important exceptions to your "axiom." Truth is not always convenient, nor is it obligated to be found in the middle of the road. If you allow your thinking to be ruled by averages, you'll be wrong (or at least not exactly right) most of the time. Sometimes an "extremist" is right. Especially if "extreme" is being defined, or asserted as a slur, by ideology or politics.
  7. Truth is what it is, and is not governed by any law of averages. (Unless you're asking for a truthful answer to "what's the average of numbers A, B, C, and D." ) Sometimes it's an outlier on a bell curve.
  8. tricia

    Another dining car/SSL cutback

    Perhaps it's more along the line of "no one at the top cares enough about LD to keep the trains looking attractive." There's a cost to allowing the on-board experience to deteriorate, too. In the short run, that's harder for the bean counters to quantify than printer costs. In the long run, that shows up in ridership numbers, and by then it's too late to retain passengers lost to more attractive travel options.
  9. Your son might really love the upper bunk in the single-level Viewliner--it's got its own window. Also, the Crescent has the new dining cars (delivered last year).
  10. Note that this train has typically been arriving NOL late, sometimes very late. I'd definitely recommend a full day in New Orleans, perhaps including the Algiers Ferry across the Mississippi.
  11. tricia

    upgrade coupon?

    If anyone has an upgrade coupon they won't be using, I'd be really happy to have it for a December 20 Surfliner ticket. And if not, I'll still be happy to be getting on a train that day.
  12. tricia

    Sunset Limited canceled (2/25/19)

    A few years ago, when I was booked--far in advance, for a long trip like yours--on a Crescent that was cancelled a few weeks in advance, Amtrak switched me to an alternative route. It was longer, and would have been more expensive, but Amtrak didn't charge me anything for the change (no fare increase, no penalty). YMMV, but a switch to CONO and SWC would be comparable to what they did for me.
  13. Thanks for the link. Helpful this morning trying to figure out whether to drive into Asheville for work.... Unusual pattern for around here: In the mountains west of Asheville, near Tennessee, we usually get more snow than A'ville. This time it's the other way around. Black Mountain (just east of Asheville) reportedly had 17" as of 8PM last night. Up here we've got about half that. Looks like the north-central part of NC and south-central part of VA got the worst of it.
  14. tricia

    Multi-city vs one-way booking

    The big reason why you SHOULD book some segments together is for guaranteed connections--if one train is delayed, Amtrak guarantees your connection to the next train or will make other arrangements to get you to your destination (typically a bus, or put you in a hotel and on a train the next day). Multi-city bookings aren't guaranteed this way by Amtrak, but some of your connecting segments would be if you booked them together outside "multi-city" mode.
  15. Agree about the bottles of water. But most times when I ask for hot water for tea, unless I'm sitting in the dining car having a meal, staff treat it like it's a really special favor and one they'd rather not be bothered with. I consider that an "issue."
  16. No hot water in the sleeping cars, alas. You'll need to beg some from the dining car, and YMMV about how cranky they are about that when you're not sitting for a meal in the dining car.
  17. tricia

    10 month old in dining car?

    Often the earliest seating at dinner isn't crowded. That might be a better option than last call, which can be really late. Suggest you ask the dining car LSA when would be the best time.
  18. tricia

    National Menu Changes?

    The problem with this, for long-distance trains, is that Amtrak has a captive clientele for days on end who need to rely on food they can eat being on board. Probably more important to have the menus up-to-date on Amtrak's website, so folks with dietary restrictions can assess before boarding whether they'll be able to eat what's on offer. Given the massive amount of paper and plastic the dining cars trash every day, I doubt that the cost of printing menus once in a while is prohibitive. More likely (and more of a concern for folks with dietary restrictions) the trains are now being stocked with varying odds and ends rather than a reliable menu. That's consistent with multiple trip reports on AU in recent months about lack of availability of menu items in dining cars, and sometimes offerings that aren't on the menu.
  19. Has Amtrak just recently started listing these trains as "sold out"? If so, the effect on passengers who have already, days or months ago, booked travel on these trains is a gross and (since this is a predictable annual event) entirely avoidable inconvenience.
  20. tricia

    WiFi on the Cardinal?

    I don't know about Amtrak-supplied wifi on that train, but do know that through a good bit of the Cardinal's route (in West Virginia at least) there's no cellphone service.
  21. I don't have to trust anybody to find that 90% figure unbelievable. Way too many kinds of bookings require a phone call, with at least part of what you want to do not being doable online.
  22. tricia

    Fire Richard Anderson Campaign?

    Weighing in as someone whose home is very rural--a mile from the nearest neighbor, 1 1/2 hours drive to the nearest airport, 2 1/1 hours to the nearest Amtrak station.... What I want from rail is similar to what I want from air travel: Drive or catch a ride to the nearest station, leave the car there, and board a train that connects me with a national travel network. (I'd be thrilled if I could drive just 10 miles to the nearest rail line (in Hot Springs), park and catch a train, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for that. ) Something that's been missing from this thread: As fossil fuels become more scarce and expensive, train transport has the potential to become much more economically attractive than either air or car-or-truck. If we don't make it a national priority to hang on to at least the national rail infrastructure we've currently got, we won't be able to increase frequencies and passenger loads as rail travel's fuel efficiencies become more compelling.
  23. I'd favor flying to San Francisco, taking the Coast Starlight (or driving) north to Portland rather than Seattle, then the Empire Builder east. Better yet, if your schedule and budget allow: Start by taking the CZ west rather than flying to San Francisco, and then the EB eastbound. Transcontinental flights are no fun, and when needed I much prefer to get that over with at the beginning, rather than make it the end of a vacation. Portland vs Seattle depends on your, and your daughter's, interests. I like Portland better myself (and usually spend hours at Powell's Books when I'm there), and the EB does ride up the Columbia River Gorge from there. You might also stop for a visit to Portland en route to Seattle....
  24. It's sometimes worth doing on a 2-night train (coach one night, sleeper the next). Less likely to offer a good deal on a 1-night train, like the ones OP will be taking. Still worth checking, though.