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How to boost Cardinal Ridership?

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PS I like the idea of the Was and NYC sections.

I like the idea of the NYC section too, except that I think it should be a part of the Capitol Limited, splitting off at Pittsburgh, and not the Cardinal.

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MrFSS:

 

Note that the survey only asked for our NYP to CIN portion of our trip -- not the return, which I thought was kind of odd.

 

Anyway, in general, our responses were extremely favorable for the train service, schedule and our attendants. Everything was ontime, our bedroom was excellent and our sleeping attendants were surpreme. I even liked the ClubAcela lounge at NYP.

 

Low marks went to everything related to public restrooms and food:

 

-- Occasionally, one of us would use the public restroom if the other was using the bathroom in the bedroom. The public restroom was very disgusting the later into the evening it got. There were just a piles of dirty towels overflowing out of the container and the floor smelled.

 

-- Food. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner on the NYP to CIN trip. Don't even get me started on this one. They ran out of food and the only thing that made it tolerable was that the dining car attendant was working her tushie off trying to make things pleasant with what she had to work with in her psuedo-kitchen, which wasn't much!

 

And while the survey only asked for the NYP to CIN portion of the trip, I felt compelled to write about the CIN to BOS portion (with a sleeper to NYP), thus forcing me to create my own worse than "very dissatisified" category on the survey. The food and the dining attendant were horrible on the CIN to NYP segment. As I entered the dining car, I waited for the dining car attendant to acknowledge me. When he did, he shouted at me to sit down. Before I had a chance to say anything, he tossed a menu at me and said he would wait on me *after* everyone else. I said no problem. Then, when he came over to my table and I showed him my ticket stub, he colored up and said he hadn't realized that I was a sleeping car passenger! I smiled and thought "Buddy, that is too late for your tip." but I didn't say a word...

He gave similarly bad service later in the day. In fact, it was so bad that our sleeping car attendant came and served the first-class passenger because the dining car attendant was so bad! I think my husband and I weren't the only ones to complain.

 

In a nutshell, you do not get what you pay for on the Cardinal with regard to food. If they run out of food, they should permit first-class passengers to have some type of credit toward use in the Cafe Car. I am sure there are 5,000 reasons why they can't (won't) do this, but honestly, when you have been on a train for 18 hours and you are hungry and you have paid for first-class service and food, someone ought to feed you!!

 

And if you are a person with special dietary needs, forget about it eating in the Cardinal.

 

I miss the old dining car on the old Cardinal -- the food was fantastic!!!!!!! Even if they could bring back the food at 1/2 the quality of the old dining car, it would still be 1,000 times better than what I had recently on the Cardinal.

 

-- Jackie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FYI:

 

My husband received a survey in the *snailmail* from Amtrak about his recent trip between NYP and CIN on the Cardinal. Most of the questions, which asked for responses via a scale from "Very Dissatisified to Very Satisfied*, asked about quality issues with food, service and the sleeping cars.

 

He filled it out with input from me since no one asked my opinion and I was the one who made the reservation!

 

Did anyone else receive a survey?

 

-- Jackie

 

What were his/your answers?

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Secondly, we could more honestly rename the Cardinal the Senator Byrd Special, since that is what it is. Amtrak doesn't want to run this train! This train is unpopular, serves practically nobody and those it serves are served at ridiculous hours of the day. Its like going from New York to Chicago via the Greenbriar. Oh wait, that's exactly what it is!

 

Ya gotta admit, though, that Cardinal is a very appropriate name just the same: the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia!

 

The train serves limited purpose. Amtrak would be better served by killing this train, yanking a sleeper off the Silver Meteor, and bringing back a two-sleeper, diner-lite, cafe, 5 coach Broadway Limited. That's how I'd improve its ridership- make it relevant.

 

Well, Senator Byrd is old. So maybe in the next few years Congress could sensibly make a change like this, once West Virginia no longer has an elder statesman in the Senate.

 

 

I've ridden durn near everything Amtrak has (or had) and the Cardinal is the hardest train I ever had to get a ticket for, so someone must be riding the train.

 

 

 

Absolutely. Every time in the past 5 years that I have ridden the Cardinal to from CHI to CIN and back, it has been a full train.

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Note that the survey only asked for our NYP to CIN portion of our trip -- not the return, which I thought was kind of odd.

 

Anyway, in general, our responses were extremely favorable for the train service, schedule and our attendants. Everything was on time, our bedroom was excellent and our sleeping attendants were supreme. I even liked the ClubAcela lounge at NYP.

 

Low marks went to everything related to public restrooms and food:

 

-- Occasionally, one of us would use the public restroom if the other was using the bathroom in the bedroom. The public restroom was very disgusting the later into the evening it got. There were just a piles of dirty towels overflowing out of the container and the floor smelled.

 

-- Food. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner on the NYP to CIN trip. Don't even get me started on this one. They ran out of food and the only thing that made it tolerable was that the dining car attendant was working her tushie off trying to make things pleasant with what she had to work with in her pseudo-kitchen, which wasn't much!

 

And while the survey only asked for the NYP to CIN portion of the trip, I felt compelled to write about the CIN to BOS portion (with a sleeper to NYP), thus forcing me to create my own worse than "very dissatisfied" category on the survey. The food and the dining attendant were horrible on the CIN to NYP segment. As I entered the dining car, I waited for the dining car attendant to acknowledge me. When he did, he shouted at me to sit down. Before I had a chance to say anything, he tossed a menu at me and said he would wait on me *after* everyone else. I said no problem. Then, when he came over to my table and I showed him my ticket stub, he colored up and said he hadn't realized that I was a sleeping car passenger! I smiled and thought "Buddy, that is too late for your tip." but I didn't say a word...

He gave similarly bad service later in the day. In fact, it was so bad that our sleeping car attendant came and served the first-class passenger because the dining car attendant was so bad! I think my husband and I weren't the only ones to complain.

 

In a nutshell, you do not get what you pay for on the Cardinal with regard to food. If they run out of food, they should permit first-class passengers to have some type of credit toward use in the Café Car. I am sure there are 5,000 reasons why they can't (won't) do this, but honestly, when you have been on a train for 18 hours and you are hungry and you have paid for first-class service and food, someone ought to feed you!!

 

And if you are a person with special dietary needs, forget about it eating in the Cardinal.

 

I miss the old dining car on the old Cardinal -- the food was fantastic!!!!!!! Even if they could bring back the food at 1/2 the quality of the old dining car, it would still be 1,000 times better than what I had recently on the Cardinal.

 

-- Jackie

 

I've ridden The Cardinal over parts of the route on three different occasions and I'm finally glad to hear someone say, as I always do, that it is a terrible train.

 

The time I was in the sleeper (NYP - IND) I saw my car attendant twice, when I got on and when I got off.

 

Every time I've ridden the dinning car - not really a dinning car at all - was terrible. The food was terrible, the staff was terrible, the condition of the dining car and coaches were terrible. I enjoy the Illinois service trains more than The Cardinal. Heck - I enjoy the Michigan service more.

 

They really need to do something about it!

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In a nutshell, you do not get what you pay for on the Cardinal with regard to food. If they run out of food, they should permit first-class passengers to have some type of credit toward use in the Cafe Car. I am sure there are 5,000 reasons why they can't (won't) do this, but honestly, when you have been on a train for 18 hours and you are hungry and you have paid for first-class service and food, someone ought to feed you!!

 

Actually, if you don't mind loaning Amtrak the cost of your cafe car food until your next trip and then dealing with the hassles of using a voucher to pay for your ticket, I would think in that situation if you paid for food in the cafe car and then called Amtrak after your trip and asked to speak with someone in Customer Relations, they'd probably send you a voucher good for future travel for your troubles; it might not be a bad idea to make a careful note of exactly how much money you paid for cafe food to make up for them not providing the food they were supposed to in the dining car.

 

Though they really ought to just get this right to begin with.

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PS I like the idea of the Was and NYC sections.

I like the idea of the NYC section too, except that I think it should be a part of the Capitol Limited, splitting off at Pittsburgh, and not the Cardinal.

 

How tall would you make the train if you did that? Would you make it mixed Superliner and single level?

Edited by Joel N. Weber II

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I stumbled on to this thread...

 

The problem with this train is that it is just too slow. No one wants to take the train from NY to Chicago in 28 hours. Also, the times from Cincinatti and Indianapolis are MUCH more than driving times... to a point where taking this train to the west from NY is not practical at all. Youre right though, the 3x per week schedule doesnt help at all.

 

 

 


Secondly, we could more honestly rename the Cardinal the Senator Byrd Special, since that is what it is. Amtrak doesn't want to run this train! This train is unpopular, serves practically nobody and those it serves are served at ridiculous hours of the day. Its like going from New York to Chicago via the Greenbriar. Oh wait, that's exactly what it is!

The train serves limited purpose. Amtrak would be better served by killing this train, yanking a sleeper off the Silver Meteor, and bringing back a two-sleeper, diner-lite, cafe, 5 coach Broadway Limited. That's how I'd improve its ridership- make it relevant.

 

 

So you thought I was the only one who thought this way?

 

To respond to the original question "How to boost Cardinal ridership" I will repeat ... serve Cincinnati and Indianapolis outside of the graveyard shift. Forget about the ability to transfer to the west coast, there's already the CL and LSL for that purpose.

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Congrats, you found two people from seven years ago that agree with you.

 

post-1912-14654225377208.jpg

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I stumbled on to this thread...

 

The problem with this train is that it is just too slow. No one wants to take the train from NY to Chicago in 28 hours. Also, the times from Cincinatti and Indianapolis are MUCH more than driving times... to a point where taking this train to the west from NY is not practical at all. Youre right though, the 3x per week schedule doesnt help at all.

 

 

 

Secondly, we could more honestly rename the Cardinal the Senator Byrd Special, since that is what it is. Amtrak doesn't want to run this train! This train is unpopular, serves practically nobody and those it serves are served at ridiculous hours of the day. Its like going from New York to Chicago via the Greenbriar. Oh wait, that's exactly what it is!

 

The train serves limited purpose. Amtrak would be better served by killing this train, yanking a sleeper off the Silver Meteor, and bringing back a two-sleeper, diner-lite, cafe, 5 coach Broadway Limited. That's how I'd improve its ridership- make it relevant.

 

 

So you thought I was the only one who thought this way?

 

To respond to the original question "How to boost Cardinal ridership" I will repeat ... serve Cincinnati and Indianapolis outside of the graveyard shift. Forget about the ability to transfer to the west coast, there's already the CL and LSL for that purpose.

 

 

No one stated that you were the only that thought this. You're just the only one that obsessively whines about it...even going as far as to bump a thread from 7 years ago to bolster your argument.

 

There's medicine for that, you know.

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I would be more interested in using The Cardinal if Cincinnati's station would only provide long term parking. Who wants to deal with the hassles and expense of getting a taxi to go to/from the station and a downtown parking garage given the times that the train arrives and leaves Cincinnati? Not I!

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So, the West Coast-East Coast connection at CHI via the Cardinal is too tight. 5:45pm eastbound is already tight for all the trains, and 10:05am is the latest of the East Coast LD trains into CHI. So, if the connection is tight right now, and many people wouldn't risk it (I don't know if they do), then it's better to just abandon it and serve Cincinnati and Indy with better times.

 

And maybe run a HUN-WAS or CHL-WAS day train in the holiday season or something. I would hate the New River Gorge descend into darkness for the rest of the time the Cardinal is here.

 

Oh, and lengthen the sidings on the Buckingham Branch. Don't care what anyone says. Has to be done to get better, more changeable service, instead of this rigid "The Cardinals have to pass each other on the Buckingham Branch" thing. If that rule is in place, and it HAS to be followed, nothing will change.

 

But I thought Neroden or Seaboard92 said that coal traffic is decreasing, so that might help.

 

Also, a CHI-Norfolk train seems great. And for that, Philly, you CAN use the NS Pocahontas Subdivision! Well, maybe. Google Earth is slow at the moment, so I can't navigate the path through Virginia.

Edited by maxbuskirk

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Contrary to your hypothesis lot of people use the Cardinal as connection to/from the west.

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i used to like the old days, using Hamilton instead of Cincy since we have to drive anyway. Rather the same as using Galesburg for the Chief of the Zephyr - the six hour drive there still puts me home before the Cardinal leaves Chicago,,,,,and the parking is free and easy

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Contrary to your hypothesis lot of people use the Cardinal as connection to/from the west.

To reinforce JIS statement; in the past two trips (2014, 2015) that we have been on the Cardinal to CHI the train was completely sold out. This was in the month of August (during peak period) when a coach seat or a room in the second sleeper was unavailable. We have another trip booked this year and so far both sleepers are sold out.

IMO with the Cardinal we must factor in the three day a week schedule when computing the total ridership. It is a a long scenic trip to CHI from PHL (where we board), but the train does give the sole option for a direct trip to CHI. Bring back the Broadway Ltd.

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We are traveling new York City to Seattle for our vacation in August and our first leg is on the Cardinal. I'm really hoping we make the connection in Chicago :-)

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And yet surprisingly we are having difficulty detecting any pulse from any serious passenger rail advocate in Pennsylvania to build a coalition in support of at least the through cars from Pennsy to Cap. There is absolutely zero interest apparently, and this affects Philadelphia more than anything else. Afterall most of NJ population is in the north within commute distance of NY and could just as soon take the LSL to Chicago. It is south Jersey, Philly (and the Main Line) that is advantaged the most by through service from Philly to Chicago.

 

All that we hear is some railing against the Cardinal, and other random things. But absolutely nothing to support the one that is easiest to implement. What gives?

 

We are traveling new York City to Seattle for our vacation in August and our first leg is on the Cardinal. I'm really hoping we make the connection in Chicago :-)

Don't worry. Most people make the connection. And if per chance you don;t Amtrak takes good care of you, usually. Edited by jis

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"And yet surprisingly we are having difficulty detecting any pulse from any serious passenger rail advocate in Pennsylvania to build a coalition in support of at least the through cars from Pennsy to Cap. There is absolutely zero interest apparently, and this affects Philadelphia more than anything else." Jis..

 

We certainly would like to see that sleeper put on the Pennsylvanian wb. It would encourage us to ride that train to Cleveland from Philly instead of waiting around in the PGH station for the Cap to arrive. I think many riders feel the same way.

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In terms of the Cardinal schedule, my argument is that it should be a priority to have a train that serves Cincinnati (and Indianapolis) at friendly times rather than a third train that allows east/west transfers but screws over CIN and IND. There are already two trains that serve that purpose for NEC travel, PHL/BAL and anyone between NYP and WAS only gain a one seat ride with the ability to transfer in CHI while NYP and WAS gain nothing but a longer train ride and as Max said a shorter window to transfer (not a big deal going from east to west but a somewhat big deal going from west to east). If my proposed schedule is used, CIN would lose the ability to transfer in CHI but gain a better schedule to the East Coast (and the train arrives in NYP much earlier), a better schedule to CHI, and a better schedule to IND. Also, you create a more friendly window between the Cardinal and the Silver Meteor in WAS. CIN-IND should be a popular city pair but it's not for obvious reasons.

 

I think the transfer opportunity is more desirable for IND than CIN as their times aren't as horrible. But I think the transfer opportunity in IND can be preserved by operating the Hoosier State and Cardinal on separate schedules. If you can't get the Cardinal daily, why not get the Hoosier State daily? 7+3 is still better than 4+3. Then there would be two trains between CHI-IND on the Cardinal days. I am not in favor of replacing the Hoosier State completely with a daily Cardinal and saying goodbye to the dome cars (and it essentially adds no service between CHI-IND). IMO it is better to keep the Hoosier State in its current slots and using that as the transfer train since it allows them to keep the Hoosier State as a 1 train set train. If you keep the Cardinal at the current times and reschedule the Hoosier State, then two sets would be required. But you put CHI-IND on a better schedule than it is now and you should see ridership skyrocket.

 

I think most of you probably could care less about Indy and Cincy and that's what bothers me the most about the Cardinal. If the Cardinal cared more about the two cities (in terms if its schedule), I might care about the Cardinal. If you really need a third train from CHI-NEC, why not serve a larger population (Pennsylvanian/Keystone)? People think just making the Cardinal daily is going to cure all its problems. It's not. Do you think Cincinnati is going to have a big celebration when they can leave at 1:30am seven days a week as opposed to three? And when Amtrak/Brock Adams cancelled the Cardinal back in 1981 due to "poor performance"? It was daily.

 

As for the through cars, I believe last time they did the through cars (back in 1996 after the BL was cancelled) I heard Amtrak found they didn't save much money as opposed to a separate train so they just extended the Three Rivers (at the beginning, it was a second PGH-NYP train). I'm wondering if people in PGH are fighting against the through cars because a late CL would delay the Pennsylvanian. If PennDOT does implement a second NYP-PGH train, there would be less objection. At the very least if they do have two NYP-PGH the hope is the later one arrives in PGH later (around 10pm) to shorten the layover in the PGH Amshack.

 

As for rail advocacy, AAO is on direct service from CHI to PA. They may have different agendas but if it benefits PA, I'll gladly support their efforts.

 

And for those of you who care, I emailed Sen. Toomey asking Amtrak to consider reinstating the BL/TR. Toomey has expressed support to increasing Amtrak's subsidy but I could care less if Amtrak gets more money if they don't increase service or that money winds up funding some worthless train to Wyoming or something.

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I think most of you probably could care less about [train service to] Indy and Cincy ...

 

... I could care less if Amtrak gets more money if they don't increase service or that money winds up funding some worthless train to Wyoming or something.

 

I think we'd all be better off if more of us cared about having a functional national passenger train network. That requires more of us to care about service to places other than just where we live and travel ourselves.

Edited by tricia

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USELESS.

WORSE THAN USELESS. Hazardous to Amtrak and the LD trains.

 

Instead of arguing to expand the national system, some emphasize its weakness, and give examples for where to chop the system. Instead of arguing for the urgency of an order for 600 or 700 single-level cars, some are willing to say that because of the equipment shortage we can only add a route by chopping another route. Instead of being realistic and pro-Amtrak, some give encouragement to Amtrak's enemies who want to cut the system.

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I'm on the Cardinal now and it's completely full. At Washington currently

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I'm on the Cardinal now and it's completely full. At Washington currently

51? Does it have a bag car on the end in addition to the one behind the engine?

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The problem with AAO at present is their insistence that through service to Chicago include routing via Michigan. That won;t happen as a first step, and if that is a pre-condition then neither will through service. People need to become more practical and pragmatic than they appear to be at times.But

 

I still ask, what about the Pittsburgh folks? can;t they see past their own noses to see the advantage of having the through cars? If the entire state of Pennsylvania appears to be as selfish as is evident apparently, then they deserve exactly what they have and perhaps less. Just IMHO of course.

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