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Pinderella

Our First Experience on Amtrak

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Although I would consider riding again, our first experience was nothing short of a nightmare. We had the worst luck. First, it was my son (10 yrs old) and I traveling. It was a short trip, Tampa to Miami and back. I got an automated call the morning of our departure to call Amtrak. I had already checked the train's status and it was running about three hours and forty minutes late. I called and spoke with someone who told me we were to be at the station no later than noon and we were going to be bussed to Winter Haven so the train can make up some time by not stopping in Tampa. She said this happens quite often. OK, no worries. Things happen. This was going to be an adventure for us and I never expect everything to go perfectly.

We arrived at the station at 11:45a, checked in and waited for the busses. They needed three busses to take us all to Winter Haven, a little over an hour away. We got on the bus (FULL) and noticed there was no AC. The bus driver said "it's coming". Hmmm. Before we left, one of the Amtrak employees boarded to count passengers and said "Wow, it's hotter in here than outside". This was very true. It was 90 degrees in steamy Tampa at the time. The bus had no windows that opened. The only AC was coming from the front of the bus, directed at the driver. The rest of the bus was BROILING. We were all fanning ourselves and I was very surprised some of the older folks actually made it OK through the trip. Meanwhile, a number of people were yelling, cursing (hello, there are children on the bus). It was nothing short of awful. When we finally got to Winter Haven, no one said a word to us. Hey, a bottle of cold water and an apology would have gone a long way. Nothing.

When we boarded we were told to go immediately to the dining car because they were going to close down soon. We had a nice lunch. We must have had 3 bottles of water each before the food even came! Wow, were we dehydrated and hungry. I felt awful for my son. This was not the trip he had imagined. We're pretty easy going though.

We had a "B" bedroom. For the life of me, I can't imagine taking a shower in that tiny little space. Everything was in working order. I could have used a little more ac but it wasn't terrible. We went to the lounge car to play a card game and got shoo'd out because he was closing down. We didn't want anything. Just wanted to sit at the big table, but nope, not allowed. Ok. \

Got to Miami. Waited for our checked bag and noted that there is no ATM machine there. How odd. I had to ask the cab driver to wait at the hotel while I found one at the end of our ride. No big deal. That was getting there...

I thought the trip back was going to be a piece of cake. I was wrong. Well, unless you mean molten lava cake. We were in the "B" bedroom again. The ac stopped working after the first hour. We had gone to lunch and returned to a VERY VERY warm room. The entire hallway area of the bedrooms was really hot. I couldn't find anyone to help us. I had to walk through two cars and knock on the door to a room where I saw someone writing a log. He had an Amtrak uniform so I told him. He said he would check it out. Evidently he found our attendant as he finally came by to see how we were and we were sweating and fanning ourselves by then. He said there is a switch that keeps going out and he would fix it (oh by the way, the air unit in the bedroom over the lower bed did not work either - at any time). He did fix it and about 40 min later, it happened again. Oh we were SO uncomfortable on the trip back. It just seemed like business as usual for them though.

Like I said before, I would definitely try it again. I can't judge it by just one trip. I don't think the cost was worth it for all that happened to us on this trip though. I can certainly see how it COULD be. The focus is obviously not on customer service.

I won't compare it to flying as its apples and oranges - but I definitely could have forgone a meal and been uncomfortable for ONE hour instead of over FIVE hours - no matter the cost.

Thanks for reading! I'm not giving up. Praying our next trip will be better - and it will be in the WINTER from now on. I can handle the cold. LOL

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Sorry to hear that things didn't go well for your trip. :(

 

The bus situation there isn't too much that Amtrak can do about that, as they just contracted with the bus company. Amtrak doesn't own and operate the buses.

 

The AC in the sleeping car however is a another matter. Sadly it does happen, I had bad AC two years ago on the Zephyr. We went 2 days with the problem. In fact, my mom who was traveling with me happens to love chocolate. So she always brings along small bits like a Hershey's Kiss or similar sized pieces of chocolate. By the time we got to Cali, they had all melted! :o

 

In any event, please call Amtrak and report the issues calming and cooly, now that you're back home in AC. They should offer to send you a voucher good for at least a few dollars off on your next trip. That might help to take a little bit of the sting out of this trip.

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Your trip was much worse than mine. A/C seems to be an endemic problem with Amtrak. Also service with an attitude. You are a real trooper willing to do it again. Tampa to Miami? That's only what about a 6 hour car ride? I would drive before venturing on Amtrak again.

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:hi: Sorry your trip was "snakebit"! :( As Alan said, please call Amtrak, ask for a live agent, when they come on ask for Customer Relations and explain what happened, I'm sure they will send you a nice voucher for future travel! Summer is tough all over w/o AC, I live in a hot/high humidity climate like you and when our A/c goes out anywhere its very unpleasant!

 

It's encouraging that you are willing to try again, the spring/fall and winter are perhaps better in the South, of course in the summer the trains are very full and most expensive!

You didnt mention the food, hope it was good and helped sooth the trip a little bit and that you had pleasant OBS helping out! As Alan said, no excuse for the bus but please include that in your call, it'll help Amtrak,you and future travelers! Hoping to see yall on a Silver train one day, it's the only LD route I havent done yet! (Ill wait till fall when it cools off, I've never been in Miami!!)

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Save your money. Fly to Montreal, and take Via Rail to Gaspe or Halifax. I GUARANTEE your son, nor you, will be disappointed. Until you board Amtrak again.............

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I'm sorry to hear your trip didn't turn out so well. Like Alan said, make sure you call Amtrak & let them know. I think it's great that you're willing to try again. I'm sure you've read some of the trip reports & found good & bad. It would be so much better if Amtrak was more consistent.

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does amtrak hire employees who hate life. do they interview the person who goes do not hire me i hate working etc etc and amtrak goes you got the job there for they take it out on us? i've been lucky so far and have not had any bustutions or trips from hell (yet) have seen one rude employee who worked the switching crew for the TE in san Antonio she was a real b**ch. the train had hit a suv 30 minutes from the yard and the conductors let us off to wonder and when she came she told us all to get back on the train. she was not in uniform we had no way of knowing she worked for amtrak and anyone who dared questioned her if she worked for amtrak she threatened to have them arrested. we found out later from the conductor that she works for amtrak.

Edited by amtrakwolverine

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I would definitely call Amtrak customer service and complain.

 

I would also complain about the bus. Even if another company operates the bus, Amtrak (and you) pay them for the service. Amtrak should know its customers are getting substandard service (moreso than just having to take the bus).

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Amtrak Trains may as well not serve Tampa because they frequently bypass Tampa due to late running in favor of a connecting bus. Amtrak should just change to that connecting bus in their schedules. For quite a few years, Tampa-St.Petersburg area was served by 2 Amtrak trains in each direction that originated and terminated there. Then service was cutback to Tampa only, then to 1 train, then to 1 train enroute to and from Miami with the Silver Palm which was downgraded to Coach/Business Class snackbar as the Palmetto. When that was discontinued, the Silver Star schedule was lengthen to serve Tampa, but frequently bypasses the area. The Tampa area has huge potential which is why a HSR line is being built to Orlando and eventually on to Miami/ It will not inteconnect with Amtrak because that service is spotty at best. When you mention Amtrak Florida intracity service to Floridians, they think you are joking because the service is so unreliable and you might end up on a bus. Floridians are looking forward to HSR as a welcome alternative to what we now have. I know many Amtrak apologists will make excuses for the limited to non existing service to Tampa, but the facts are the facts.

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You didnt mention the food, hope it was good and helped sooth the trip a little bit

 

The food was good. On the way to Miami, after lunch, my son asked for ice cream. The freezer was broken and they said all the ice cream had melted. LOL

 

Save your money. Fly to Montreal, and take Via Rail to Gaspe or Halifax. I GUARANTEE your son, nor you, will be disappointed. Until you board Amtrak again.............

 

I don't know about the trains in Montreal, but my husband and I did take the train from Vancouver to Whistler BC a few years ago. It was extraordinary. I really wasn't expecting the same with Amtrak. I research before I travel and nothing led me to believe our trip would be "spectacular".

 

Your trip was much worse than mine. A/C seems to be an endemic problem with Amtrak. Also service with an attitude. You are a real trooper willing to do it again. Tampa to Miami? That's only what about a 6 hour car ride? I would drive before venturing on Amtrak again.

 

I don't give up that easy. It was our first trip. What would that teach my son? I want him to know that there are good days and bad days and you just get through them. That's life. If we didn't have bad days, how would we know to appreciate the good? Besides, I hadn't read anything about "luxury" or being pampered or 600 count thread sheets on Amtrak before the trip. I just knew we would have a little more space than coach and it would be private. That's what I paid for. However, I also paid for AC and an understanding that I would be treated with a decent level of customer service. Both were lacking. They will definitely hear about it.

It was a short trip on purpose. I wanted to see what it was like and get to know how my son felt about it because we want to take him on the Denver to Salt Lake City route in March. He actually really liked it, even after all the problems. He loved being able to climb up to his bunk and read, or to play cards with me or get up and get a snack. I know one thing - we won't be hot on that trip!

What I'm most thankful for is that my husband wasn't along for this trip. As a woman who has gone through childbirth, eh, chalk it up to a bad day. It wasn't the end of the world and it wasn't the last dollar I had to spend. There will be many more trips, good and bad and many more dollars to spend. I hope most of them are spent wisely!

 

Thank you for your opinions and suggestions. I really like this board.

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:hi: An excellent post, IMO this is the way to report the shortcomings of Amtrak while realizing that an experience like the OP had is not the norm, stuff happens as the old saying went! ;)

Glad your son enjoyed the trip, kids are much more flexible than we adults when they havent been spoiled by poor parents! The CZ trip in March sounds great, warm enough not to freeze but the snowy landscape will take your breath away! :cool:

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Thank you for posting your trip report, it was sad that it was such a let down on so many points. I boarded an AMTRAK only bus from Bakersfield to Las Vegas a few weeks ago with my own son. No A/C on a 5 hour journey, the driver opened the roof windows in the end. (Actually they were in the roof, not in the end, but you get my drift...)

I think the main feeling I get from your post is that it reminds me most of my own concerns... we all expect a few problems, are mostly prepared to put up a little hassle when we travel, but somehow, many Amtrak employees seem oblivious to the fact they are dealing with human beings, who get hot, thirsty, hungry, and after all, are paying a chunk of their wages too!

I don't like the way some so called "rail fans" on this forum just pour scorn and negativity onto Amtrak, and Amtrak customers, but it is fair to say that yours, and many others experience of the Amtrak service leaves a bad taste..

 

Ed :cool:

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Sorry your first trip was so bad. The first time I rode amtrak was with my parents, we went from Fort Worth-San Antonio, and had a similiar experience. I wasnt told about calling to see if the train would be late or anything, and they didnt inform me about it. It took us 10 hours to get to the san antonio station, and we lost our motel room. The lounge car closed down, none of us could sleep, I ended up having a siezure b/c of it, and our next days plans were ruined. To top that off, when we got to our destination, we found out that they were tearing up the tracks, and sending us home on a bus, and they were rude as hell telling us about it too. We finally ended up renting a car, and driving home. They did refund most of our money, and gave us a free trip. My second trip was alot better, btw.

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does amtrak hire employees who hate life. do they interview the person who goes do not hire me i hate working etc etc and amtrak goes you got the job there for they take it out on us? i've been lucky so far and have not had any bustutions or trips from hell (yet) have seen one rude employee who worked the switching crew for the TE in san Antonio she was a real b**ch. the train had hit a suv 30 minutes from the yard and the conductors let us off to wonder and when she came she told us all to get back on the train. she was not in uniform we had no way of knowing she worked for amtrak and anyone who dared questioned her if she worked for amtrak she threatened to have them arrested. we found out later from the conductor that she works for amtrak.

LOL! Classic! She will probably get employee of the month.

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does amtrak hire employees who hate life. do they interview the person who goes do not hire me i hate working etc etc and amtrak goes you got the job there for they take it out on us? i've been lucky so far and have not had any bustutions or trips from hell (yet) have seen one rude employee who worked the switching crew for the TE in san Antonio she was a real b**ch. the train had hit a suv 30 minutes from the yard and the conductors let us off to wonder and when she came she told us all to get back on the train. she was not in uniform we had no way of knowing she worked for amtrak and anyone who dared questioned her if she worked for amtrak she threatened to have them arrested. we found out later from the conductor that she works for amtrak.

LOL! Classic! She will probably get employee of the month.

 

Y'know letting pax off an an active rail line is a dangerous thing. 400 of us versus two or three of them, we don't know all of the dangers and if she caught somebody doing something exceedingly dangerous, say, getting in-between the railcars, then I would expect them to get fed up and tell everybody to get back on the train.

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I am sorry you had an unpleasant trip. I have traveled on the Silver Star northbound many times in a sleeper and southbound from Orlando to Tampa in coach. However, I have traveled on the Silver Meteor from Orlando both northbound and southbound in sleepers many, many times. I never encountered an air conditioner that did not work at all. I had a roomette once where the a/c sort of worked, but really did not cool very well. I spent most of my time in the lounge and reported it to Amtrak and received a voucher. I am a menopausal woman and I like the temperature fairly cool. Only once in all my trips, was it too cold. That was last Thanksgiving on the Silver Star. It was pretty cold outside and the SCA offered me an extra blanket, which I accepted.

On the Silver trains, I have had great SCA's and ok SCA's, but never an awful one. I have been very fortunate.

 

I hope, in the future, your luck will be as good as mine has been.

:)

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Having a friend in Destin I can sympathize with the heat. I would guess that an a/c breakdown would be rather painful.

 

There's not a whole lot the on-board crew can do if it breaks down. None of them are electricians or conventional engineers, the engineers themselves pretty much know locomotives, not air conditioning systems. The problem is Amtrak's and originates in the yard, these cars need to be fixed properly. I would call Amtrak customer relations with dates, car and room numbers, train numbers ect and calmly explain your situation. You will likely be issued a voucher for future travel. They are usually pretty generous about vouchers.

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does amtrak hire employees who hate life. do they interview the person who goes do not hire me i hate working etc etc and amtrak goes you got the job there for they take it out on us? i've been lucky so far and have not had any bustutions or trips from hell (yet) have seen one rude employee who worked the switching crew for the TE in san Antonio she was a real b**ch. the train had hit a suv 30 minutes from the yard and the conductors let us off to wonder and when she came she told us all to get back on the train. she was not in uniform we had no way of knowing she worked for amtrak and anyone who dared questioned her if she worked for amtrak she threatened to have them arrested. we found out later from the conductor that she works for amtrak.

LOL! Classic! She will probably get employee of the month.

Y'know letting pax off an an active rail line is a dangerous thing. 400 of us versus two or three of them, we don't know all of the dangers and if she caught somebody doing something exceedingly dangerous, say, getting in-between the railcars, then I would expect them to get fed up and tell everybody to get back on the train.

While what you say is true, did you notice the Conductors (the "boss" of the train) let the passengers off of the train and another employee (who may or may not have been known as an Amtrak employee) ordered everyone onto the train!blink.gif

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Well said, and don't let the haters get you down. Sorry your trip was a rough one, I'm sure the next will be much better.

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Good show Pinderella! With level heads everything can be made right. Amtrak must be fair to us and we must be fair to them, there is a customer/business relationship and both sides need to behave appropriately

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does amtrak hire employees who hate life. do they interview the person who goes do not hire me i hate working etc etc and amtrak goes you got the job there for they take it out on us? i've been lucky so far and have not had any bustutions or trips from hell (yet) have seen one rude employee who worked the switching crew for the TE in san Antonio she was a real b**ch. the train had hit a suv 30 minutes from the yard and the conductors let us off to wonder and when she came she told us all to get back on the train. she was not in uniform we had no way of knowing she worked for amtrak and anyone who dared questioned her if she worked for amtrak she threatened to have them arrested. we found out later from the conductor that she works for amtrak.

LOL! Classic! She will probably get employee of the month.

Y'know letting pax off an an active rail line is a dangerous thing. 400 of us versus two or three of them, we don't know all of the dangers and if she caught somebody doing something exceedingly dangerous, say, getting in-between the railcars, then I would expect them to get fed up and tell everybody to get back on the train.

While what you say is true, did you notice the Conductors (the "boss" of the train) let the passengers off of the train and another employee (who may or may not have been known as an Amtrak employee) ordered everyone onto the train!blink.gif

 

we didn't know if this woman was maybe a relative of the people of the suv and didn't want us mingling around or a terrorist trying to kidnap or hold us hostage anyone who ask her let me see your ID shes like "get on the train or i'll have you arrested" she could have handled it differently. one of the amtrak crews told us its a liability there is a little steep drop off next to the grade crossing signal and if someone had fallen down it and got hurt they could sue for negligence.

Edited by amtrakwolverine

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Actually sounds like an Engineer. They don't wear uniforms....

 

And if the Conductor let you guys off it was a BIG mistake. You shouldn't let pax off onto an active line under any circumstances besides evacuation.

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Also coulda been a yard worker, they work @ night here and there are several females on the switching crew! The station agents are pretty nice here BTW, the station itself sucks! I'm surprised they opened both sides too, :wacko: theres nothing on the other side away from the station but active tracks and gangbangers! :rolleyes: (not the best part of town over that way!)

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Actually sounds like an Engineer. They don't wear uniforms....

 

And if the Conductor let you guys off it was a BIG mistake. You shouldn't let pax off onto an active line under any circumstances besides evacuation.

 

if she was a engineer she wasn't working a train that day. later saw her in the yard with a battery lantern directing the backup moves to connect the the 2 cars from the te to the SL she was fine after that.

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We went to the lounge car to play a card game and got shoo'd out because he was closing down. We didn't want anything. Just wanted to sit at the big table, but nope, not allowed.

Assuming you were in the cafe/dinette/club dinette car (single level trains don't have a lounge car) and didn't actually land in the diner, this was pretty s...... of the attendant. I don't know whether s/he was acting according to the rules or not, but attendants have a tendency to do this within x hours of the destination.

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