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About jebr

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    "The Last Great City of the East," St. Paul, MN

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  1. Eh, it probably wouldn't hurt to mention it to a state representative/senator. The districts are typically a lot smaller, and issues like this are a lot closer to home and important to them. I wouldn't go overboard with it, but an email expressing frustration with the crowding of the Shuttles and noting that you've heard the potential for using MARC rail cars wouldn't hurt, especially if the state rep that represents them serves on the committee that oversees transporation/CTRail. (I also wouldn't write a federal representative with the suggestion, since they're not really in the position to make that decision and typically have a lot more issues that they're working on.)
  2. What are you looking to have covered with travel insurance? If you buy the "Saver" fare type, those tickets would get a 75% Amtrak voucher, good for one year from cancellation, as long as the trip is cancelled before departure. You can also change what day you're riding at no charge. If you buy the "Value" fare type, a full refund can be issued if the cancellation is 8 days or more before departure. Closer in, the refund would drop to 75% as long as it's cancelled before departure. It's also worth checking what the cancellation policy is for the lodging you're staying at; many hotels have the option of a semi-flexible or a flexible rate that may be cheaper than paying for travel insurance. That also would allow you to cancel for any reason as long as it's before the cancellation deadline instead of only getting a refund for a covered event. I'm generally of the mindset that travel insurance isn't really worth it unless it's covering something that you can't easily afford to pay for should that event happen. For me, that's typically only for medical care if I'm somewhere my health insurance doesn't cover, medevac coverage, or possibly a last-minute airline ticket if I miss a connection or need to get home right away. That equation is different for everyone, though, and so it's best to look and see what you're trying to get covered, and whether the cost of the insurance is worth the coverage you're getting from it.
  3. There's no overnight storage available for someone to hold something at CUS. If you don't want to worry about having to manage the coats and boots during your layover in WAS, you could check them through in Chicago to Miami. (You may be able to check them back to Chicago as well, but if your bag is delayed you're stuck without a coat or boots, and you may have to come back to Chicago to get the bag as well if it doesn't arrive before your connecting train leaves.) Bags can be stored during your layover in Chicago and DC. In Chicago, the Metropolitan Lounge is available. In DC, the ClubAcela is available. Both have self-service unsecured luggage rooms, though they're only accessible after checking in at the lounge. They're generally safe, though I wouldn't leave anything that's obviously high-value in there and visible.
  4. Good to hear that it's likely there's no permanent damage. Best wishes for good news at the appointment tomorrow!
  5. @v v: You may be aware of this already, but if you have Skype or can install it on your computer (and have a microphone and speakers/headset,) calls to USA toll-free numbers, including Amtrak's 1-800-USA-RAIL, are free even if you're outside of the USA. That may lead to a quicker response or make it easier to explain the situation than using email while saving on any applicable international long-distance charges.
  6. jebr

    Amtrak schedule in a database

    There's a GTFS feed linked through here: https://transit.land/feed-registry/operators/o-9-amtrak. It's updated semi-regularly via FOIA requests, but it may not automatically or immediately update with any schedule changes (as someone would have to file a new FOIA request to obtain the newest GTFS feed.)
  7. The Canadian isn't too bad if you ride it in a berth and get it on sale. I did Winnipeg to Vancouver one way in late May 2015 and the cost was around CA$500. I live within driving distance of Winnipeg, so just did a domestic flight back to Winnipeg. Very much worth it.
  8. jebr

    Long anti Anderson Article

    I've had pretty much the exact opposite experience. Granted, I've never actually flown JetBlue, but when I saw a decent fare on an OTA (multiple OTAs, in fact) for JetBlue and tried to book it I got an error and the price jumped up $50. JetBlue's website only had the higher fare. Even after I saw that the first time, the lower (false) fares still popped up on multiple OTAs, even ones that I hadn't searched that itinerary on before, which makes me think that the fare issue was on JetBlue's end. Their prices (at least from MSP) that are available don't seem to be that great unless they have a huge sale, and the flight I was looking at for a potential trip in March has a very poor OTP rating (with under 40% of that flight schedule arriving on time, and almost 45% arriving more than 30 minutes late.) Considering that it's a late evening flight, I really don't want to risk having a 30-minute or more delay when it's that likely to happen, and some perusal of web forums suggest that this isn't uncommon for JetBlue. Delta, on the other hand, at least seems to generally be on-time - the couple times I've flown them they've been on-time or early. Their prices are also decent if there's competition on the route, and all but Southwest seem to have a similar baggage fee structure. On my last flight we landed 45 minutes before scheduled arrival (which meant I was home pretty much right at scheduled arrival!) and my checked bag had made it onto the luggage carousel a minute or so before I got there (based on the tracking.) I haven't noticed any major difference in terms of their plane interiors and their flight crew seems just as friendly as any other major airline. Granted, since MSP is my "home airport" Delta is the most convenient, and I get annoyed when I see the hub penalty, but operationally I'm impressed with how smoothly they seem to run. I do have to pay for wi-fi if I want it, but they do have free messaging available, which is enough to communicate with my ride and have a text conversation. Frankly, at the end of the day I want to get home close to on-schedule and with a minimum of fuss, and Delta does that better than pretty much any other airline I've flown on (which, granted, is limited to US domestic airlines and Air Canada.)
  9. Assuming the breakfast menu allows for multiple items from the menu (for example, I can get a sandwich with yogurt and cereal) I think it's pretty close to what I'd envision for a decent meal service in this style. I was fine overall with the delivery style and the quality of the entrees on the Lake Shore and Capitol this past September/October, and being able to get some dinner going into NYC on the Lake Shore was a definite bonus. I still think the ability to pre-order from a larger selection of entrees and/or doing a more regular rotation of entrees (maybe every two weeks like on the Acela) would help with adding more variety to the menu. I can half-see the reason for pre-mixed beverages if you're wanting to not have to stock both gin and tonic water, but with ginger ale being stocked already, it seems easier to just stock rum onboard versus having a specialized drink just for rum and ginger. That'd also allow options such as rum and Pepsi or with people to have their own mixer to go with it. Of course, that could be said for gin as well, but at least there's some small justification for it.
  10. jebr

    Long anti Anderson Article

    Yeah, I've seen Amtrak take out ads in our local version of the Chinook Book, which is a coupon/savings book that's targeted towards advertising local and/or eco-friendly businesses. While they don't offer a coupon (frustratingly,) they do pay for a full-page color ad in that book. I'm guessing that has better ROI given the market it's targeting than a standard TV or non-targeted radio advertisement.
  11. The light rail runs every 10 minutes or so from the International District/Chinatown stop (a block from King Street station) to the airport, and takes about 35 minutes. Given that, a four-hour delay is the maximum delay that you could make and still comfortably make your flight. There's 18 days over the past 365 days (or about 5% of arrivals) where there was a greater than 4 hour delay. Of those, six were arrivals between 2:25 PM and 3:00 PM, which without checked bags would still be fairly comfortable. There's another 3 arrivals in the 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM range (tight but doable with Pre/Clear, Uber/Lyft/taxi, and no checked bags) two more in the 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM range (very tight but might still make it,) and a 4:21 PM arrival (probably not doable, but still technically before departure.) The other six arrivals are after the flight would have departed. A lot of this would have to do with your risk aversion and what kind of alternative flight times would be available should you miss your 5:30 PM flight. Even with trip insurance that would cover that short of a connection, if there's no other options once you arrive in Seattle to get to Anchorage before your cruise leaves you may have to try to catch the cruise at another port and miss part or all of your cruise. That said, it looks like there's some late-night options on Alaska on certain days (including an 11:30 PM and a 12:40 AM flight some days) that on all but one day over the past year (and only a couple dozen over the past 10 years that I can find data for) would make the connection. If the train is severely delayed, you'd feel a lot calmer and less concerned about the delay if you're not worried about making even a late-night flight. I also wouldn't want to have the connection be so tight as to only have one overnight before the cruise after the Seattle arrival; I'd either do two nights in Anchorage or a night in Seattle and a night in Anchorage. If the train is severely delayed and you're having to rebook to the next morning at the last minute, it may be difficult to find availability on the early-morning flights that'd likely be required to make the cruise departure time. Even insurance can only help so much; while they can pay for covered misconnects and delays, if there's no availability in the timeframe you need they can't make that suddenly appear.
  12. From the OP (bolding mine): Uber Express Pool is a distinct product from UberX - it's basically a shared UberX where you are picked up at a street corner Uber directs you to once you've booked the trip (based on what their website indicates.) The distance given is about a mile, so on the cusp of walking range, though there's likely traffic time accounted there as well. An $8 UberX trip here is probably around 4 miles, which is far enough that walking isn't an option and could easily require a bus transfer to get between. I'm not sure what an Uber Express Pool $4 trip would look like here (we don't have that option in MSP,) but I'd surmise it'd be around that same 4 miles if the relative cost stays the same.
  13. jebr

    Another dining car/SSL cutback

    As long as it doesn't cover up the windows at all. One of the most annoying things about those wraps is that it makes it difficult to see out the window fully - the dots aren't quite enough to have a nice view out the window, and it feels as though the advertising is more important than the experience when you're a paying customer inside the bus or train. It's a pet peeve of mine when those cover up the bus windows, and I hope Amtrak doesn't go so far as to cover up the windows with a wrap. The rest of the car is fine, though.
  14. Ride sharing is almost certainly cutting into those transit markets. Sure, the cost is higher, but I don't have to wait for the bus/train to arrive, I don't have to walk to the bus/train stop, I don't have to walk from the bus/train stop to my final destination, and I don't have to transfer between buses or trains. A $4-$5 Uber Express sounds a lot better than a $2.60 bus ride if I'm needing to take a route that requires a transfer, the frequency is poor (say, every 30-60 minutes,) and/or the time to take the bus/train is a lot longer than driving (a local bus or streetcar vs. an Uber on the highway.) A two-block walk on each end is pretty normal or even short for most bus or train riders, so Uber Express is likely either neutral or still a small advantage there (if the walk to or from the bus is 4-6 blocks instead of 2.) As for selling your data, most people either don't know about it or don't really care; I doubt that factors in much to most rider's equation when choosing what to use.
  15. Moderator note: The thread has gone severely off-topic in terms of relevance to Amtrak, and as such has been locked. Discussion about climate change in general can happen in The Lounge, though our standard rules about political discourse still apply to threads in the lounge.