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About ronkstevens

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    Lead Service Attendant

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  • Location
    Philadelphia Suburbs
  1. ronkstevens

    MKA Shuttle

    I'm going to be taking the train into MKA, then renting a car at the airport. How often does the shuttle run? Do you have to call or is it on a schedule? When I return back and drop off my car, how much time in advance of the scheduled train departure do I have to be at the airport? Or put another way, after I drop off my car, what is the longest amount of time needed to get from the airport to the station? I'm going to be catching train 338 on a Sunday. Does the shuttle stop at arrivals, departures, or both? Thanks!
  2. I can have an automobile that can pass a safety inspection, but have no desire to take it on a trip because I know there will be problems. There is a big difference between Amtrak's operations and the operations of an excursion railroad. For example, Amtrak can put 1000 miles on a car in two days. Excursion railroads are lucky if they see that kind of mileage in a year.
  3. I'll take a worn out 60 year old car to replace a worn out 90 year old car. I'd rather get an old dining car and work on that than have to build an entire kitchen car from scratch in a car that most likely is in worse condition than the Amtrak heritage fleet. An excursion railroads needs and operating demands are considerably different than what these cars have been used for in their regular life. As long as the cars can pass inspection then why not auction them off, with the minimum bid slightly above scrap price
  4. I thought I remember hearing that they'd enter service in Florida first, but that's just what I remember, who knows what they are doing. Seriously doubt they're entering service as these are just the test cars. They're probably going down so the maintenance people can see what they'll be getting in the near future.Or make sure all of the defects have been corrected
  5. ronkstevens

    Point Calculator

    I tried to test book, but I can't find the screen that allows me to use points instead of paying. I'm even trying a short trip that I have more than enough points for just to see if it is blocked out if you don't have enough points
  6. ronkstevens

    Point Calculator

    Do they still have the point calculator that shows how many points you will need for a given fare? Is there a way to calculate this?
  7. ronkstevens

    Silver Service

    I have to book a trip for October. Should I stick with the Meteor to assure myself that there will be a diner?
  8. ronkstevens

    Pennsylvanian Business Class

    Business class is behind the locomotive between NYP and PHL. Rear of train between PHL and PGH. Boarding at Newark BC is next to locomotive, but the seats are facing the opposite direction of travel
  9. ronkstevens

    Dining car lunch service removed from #30

    I was on 30 two weeks ago, and was shocked by the "breakfast but no lunch" announcement. Then, breakfast was packed and you couldn't get a seat (ended up getting "room service"), Even if a little bit late into Washington, to make the guaranteed connection to a Regional would make it tight to get your luggage and then something to eat before boarding. The cafe side of the CCC was constantly busy, too; and I noticed a lot of confusion from passengers that were used to going downstairs in the lounge, instead of to the CCC. People were turning away instead of going to the next car. No sign at the top of the stairs, just a trash box blocking the steps. Of the 5 LD trains that I rode on my trip, by far 30 was the worst service.
  10. I wouldn't worry. First, even when the Federal government shuts down due to budget bickering Amtrak continues to run. As others have stated, Pennsylvania has strong bipartisan support for rail (although the amount and level of dedication vary). Any budget would not slash funds to cancel service. Also the Keystone is a good performer for Amtrak, and there would be quite an uproar from those that utilize that train that any smart politician would back down. With the schedule change going into effect on Monday (600/609 now terminating/originating at NYP) I think it's safe to say that the Keystone isn't going away.
  11. ronkstevens

    Amtrak heritage cars retirement thread

    It's probably a case of Amtrak moving to retire almost all of them over the course of a few months. I count 71 baggage cars above, versus I believe 80 bags/bag-dorms Amtrak bought in the Viewliner II order (55+25 turned to 65+15 IIRC). Honestly, Amtrak is probably going to move them all to Beech Grove and then evaluate which (if any) it wants to hold as spares/backups in the event that an issue arises with the Viewliner IIs over the next 2-3 years. The way that they are chopping up the AEM-7's, I doubt it. Probably check them out and see if there are any worth selling and scrap the rest as soon as they can.
  12. Amtrak's support for "guaranteed" connections is so poor that I've stopped worrying about it. I immediately start making my own arrangements if I know a connection is going to be broken, because I know damn well that Amtrak isn't going to do anything for me. I do leave enough time between trains to allow for the typical lateness of a given train (as measured by Amtrakdelays). The reason Amtrak wouldn't guarantee the same-day connection from the Empire Builder going eastbound is that it's routinely been arriving 5-6 hours late, sometimes more I wouldn't schedule that myself. On the other hand, if you get a hotel room in Chicago (which costs less than $350) Amtrak will guarantee your connection the next day, and it is reliable. I did that earlier this year. I had a very good serviceperson when I called a few days ago. I had FLG-CHI booked as an AGR redemption, and then CHI-WAS-PHL as revenue, with an additional ticket PHL-PAO, for a total of three reservations. I called concerning "guaranteed" reservations, because trains 4 and 30 had to be booked as separate reservations due to the AGR redemption. However, I wanted to make sure that the connection would be guaranteed if 4 was late into Chicago. The rep on the phone confirmed that since that was a guaranteed connection, that it would be noted in both reservations so I would not have an issue. He then went above and beyond the call of duty and checked my entire itinerary, checking it segment by segment. He did comment that CHI-WAS-PHL-PAO was not a guaranteed connection, because the guaranteed connection was CHI-PGH-PAO (30/42), and checked each segment to see if each individual connection was guaranteed. The only connection not guaranteed was the one in Philly (Regional-Keystone) but I wasn't worried about that since Keystones are unreserved so if I miss it I can just catch the next one. So I guess if you get a good rep they will check your custom itinerary.
  13. Your reason should not matter if you want to make a change. Call back. (and I'm with you--the Pittsburgh layover stinks. As much as I would love the ride west across PA, I always book through PHL/WAS solely to avoid that layover in either direction)
  14. ronkstevens

    Wi-Fi on Eastern LD Trains

    How does the WiFi work on Keystone trains, that have no lounge/cafe car?
  15. ronkstevens

    Amtrak Autumn Express 2015 (Oct 24 & Oct 25)

    Last year they didn't make an announcement until mid-September, if I remember correctly. It still might be a little early