Jump to content
Acela150

AAA Discontinued Effective 2/18/18

Recommended Posts

Valid points, but wouldn't your aims be better served then by lower overall pricing, rather than a discount that only some people have access to?

 

(as an aside, does the equipment still exist to run 18 car trains routinely?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't favor lowering all prices Ryan, that would be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

 

As Thirdrail points out, the NEC, and the East in General, have much higher rail fares than other parts of the Country,but it doesn't seem to be hurting the ridership nor revenue on most of these routes,especially the Expensive Acelas.

 

Should Amtrak discontinue ALL Discounts, the answer is obvious, NO!

 

The amount spent by Seniors and Students on discounts is pocket change in the scheme of things when it comes to Amtraks Budget, but why go out of the way to have a policy that discourages these groups ridership,not encourages it!??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have been AAA members for many years. Still use the "free" maps, and the AAA towing since some of the insurance company towing services are hard to find in our area. AAA towing is down the street in our town and in most places outside the large cities.

Mostly we use the AAA discounts for hotels. It has saved us a lot of money over the years. We do not use :Priceline or some of the other discounters since we need the flexibility of cancelling reservations due to health concerns. Actually we have found that AAA discounts were better when booking directly through Hilton online than what Expedia, Hotels.com or Priceline were offering.

 

Since we have qualified for senior discounts on Amtrak we no longer used the AAA discount, which I am sure was true of many riders who have aged (which as pointed out are a major source of AAA memberships).

Making the AGR points redemptions higher has affected our ridership more than any of the discounts. We once took 5-6 trips per year and now maybe 2-3. We still pay for trips on the CL to WAS or CHI or LSL to NYP but our western trips have become more limited.

I also agree that if Amtrak did a Discount Tuesday ad campaign as VIA does, it might encourage more ridership?? Have no stats to back that upl :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should Amtrak discontinue ALL Discounts, the answer is obvious, NO!

 

The amount spent by Seniors and Students on discounts is pocket change in the scheme of things when it comes to Amtraks Budget, but why go out of the way to have a policy that discourages these groups ridership,not encourages it!??

 

I don't think the answer is obvious. Blanket discounting means that Amtrak is discounting seats on Thanksgiving weekend, where Amtrak routinely runs extra trains just to keep up with demand. That seems a bit crazy to me.

 

That being said, I think Amtrak should generally eliminate straight-up discounts. The one that seemed the best targeted was the student discount, which was already eliminated. The NARP discount somewhat makes sense, though perhaps Amtrak could retool the discount to be more targeted to lower-demand trains. I think doing something like that across the board for the current discounts would be helpful; maybe offer no senior or student discount on peak travel days, but up the discount to 20% or even 30% for fares if the train is historically under half-full. Or offer some close-in discounts to fill trains that are running pretty quiet that day (or that week) closer-in than what the SmartFares currently allow. It could be more aggressive than discounting to the general public - offering it to a limited subset would allow it to be more frequent without devaluing the train to those who aren't part of those groups (and thus are more likely to have enough spending money to pay full fare.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been very interesting to catch up on this thread. Thirdrail, you bring up some interesting points. Ridership does go up every year, though, so are you saying there has been less recently?

 

I'm also interested in the answer to if there is enough equipment to go around for the longer trains that you speak of, TR. Wouldn't longer consists cause even more issues at stations with short or medium-length platforms though?

Or offer some close-in discounts to fill trains that are running pretty quiet that day (or that week) closer-in than what the SmartFares currently allow.

THIS! A million times this. I think ridership would soar if Amtrak lowered fares in the days or the week before departure. Don't some airlines do this to fill planes? I know most of AU's members are long-distance users, but there are quite a few of us that travel on the NEC. I understand Amtrak is trying to make the most money it possibly can in order to eventually break even/make a profit and pour that revenue into capital projects, but some of the fares on the NEC, especially for short rides, are pretty ridiculous. Yes, the WAS–NYP corridor is fast and very congested, but who wants to pay double, triple, or even more than driving or taking the bus? Yes, the train is faster (usually not by much though), more comfortable, and a better experience, but when you're a college student, a family of four, and/or buying at the last minute, it gets to be too expensive.

 

Yes, I do enjoy having two seats to myself on the NEC, which occasionally happens (recently not as much), but we all know more ridership=more revenue=more Amtrak=curing Amtrak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a semi-retired person on a fixed income, I agree with diagrua on this.

 

I use coupons,discounts,sales etc. whenever I can since that $5 or $10 I save adds up and enables me to have a little more disposable income to spend on things that are not essential such as Amtrak travel.

 

I agree that Amtrak needs to enhance its revenue, but think doing away with Student and Senior discounts is penny wise and pound foolish. YMMV

This!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a related note, went to book a trip into boston with my kids. Typically, 2 kids are 1/2 price, but on the Downeaster, they are free on Sunday.

 

But not anymore? Now the discount is for only one child? That doubles the price of my ticket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I may make another point about AAA and Amtrak; on our vacations they always tie together. We take Amtrak to a big city station and then rent a car, and go on a road trip to our final destination and return. Some of these vacations have included Seattle-Mt Rainer, Denver-Wyoming-Black Hills, SD, Chicago-Dells, WI, Indianapolis-St Louis, this year Omaha-Soiux Falls-Badlands and lets not forget that automobiles and trains come together on the Autotrain. IMO, the AAA discount may help increase business but it is now gone and we will see what happens.

Whatever Amtrak decides on discounted fares, they need to realize that trains are not the only way to travel. Air and car travel are usually less expensive and in many cases faster. Raising prices doesn't always bring you more revenue. Then there is the demographic of those that ride the LD trains that I alluded to in my prior post. When the middle age and senior audience declines/goes away, then what happens? Will the smart phone addicted Millennial's take our place?
It's highly unlikely that they will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't understand why discount only for AAA? If you must promote multi-modalism, why wouldn't you give discount to all Automobile promoting organizations? I could go for that as a consistent move to encourage all automobile users to occasionally choose Amtrak. As things stand I have no problem with the selective favor to AAA members going away.

 

I have more problem with Student discounts going away, much more so than even the Senior discount being reduced. Frankly I would have less problem with the Senior discount going away altogether in order to restore Student discounts. As a demographic the Seniors are way richer than typical Students in today's economy, and a Student enticed into riding Amtrak with discounts today will ride for many more decades than any Senior will.

 

Today's Seniors will be gone in a decade or three, and will become immobile enough not to be riding trains too frequently if at all, even sooner than that. Amtrak needs to create and encourage clientele who will hang around for many more decades beyond that.

 

Mind you I am a Senior myself by almost any standard definition of the term.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't understand why discount only for AAA? If you must promote multi-modalism, why wouldn't you give discount to all Automobile promoting organizations? I could go for that as a consistent move to encourage all automobile users to occasionally choose Amtrak. As things stand I have no problem with the selective favor to AAA members going away.

 

I have more problem with Student discounts going away, much more so than even the Senior discount being reduced. Frankly I would have less problem with the Senior discount going away altogether in order to restore Student discounts. As a demographic the Seniors are way richer than typical Students in today's economy, and a Student enticed into riding Amtrak with discounts today will ride for many more decades than any Senior will.

 

Today's Seniors will be gone in a decade or three, and will become immobile enough not to be riding trains too frequently if at all, even sooner than that. Amtrak needs to create and encourage clientele who will hang around for many more decades beyond that.

 

Mind you I am a Senior myself by almost any standard definition of the term.

As a AAA member and former Senior by Amtrak’s definition, I must wholeheartedly disagree with the comments about AAA and Senior riders, although as a former University employee on the administrative side of the house for my entire career, I would be in favor of the Student discount being resurrected because many would still benefit. AAA discounts, and not other auto organizations ONLY selling insurance and not travel, still apply to many hotels and car rental agencies as do AARP and/or Senior discounts.

 

I still do support the sale promotions on a weekly basis on routes that aren’t running at capacity. VIA even does this for some sleeping accommodations.

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Edited by ChuckL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will the smart phone addicted Millennial's take our place?

It's highly unlikely that they will.

 

Considering that Millenials are generally much more willing to use and support non-automobile transportation options, I would say Millenials will almost certainly be willing to replace and grow Amtrak once the baby boomer generation can no longer take Amtrak. That is, if Amtrak actually wants to entice Millenials. The removal of the student discount seems like a short-sighted attempt to grow revenue while removing an incentive to create lifelong customers; I agree with jis that if anything the student discount is more valuable to building long-term customers than the senior discount is.

 

The desire of Millenials to stay connected as much as possible is a selling point for Amtrak. If I'm driving, I have to focus on the road and so can't safely drive and surf social media, forums, etc. I can do that on Amtrak. Planes, while getting better with on-board wi-fi, generally are still a bit less connected than a train can be, and plane travel is less environmentally friendly than train travel (that is, as long as Amtrak actually wants to make it environmentally friendly...reusable plates might help with that :) )

 

The only way Amtrak is going to go away is if they're unable to shift their offerings to appeal to a new generation. The Millenial generation is more likely to ride trains, so Amtrak just needs to make sure they're offering on-board products that support that market. Fresh food offerings, environmentally friendly offerings (reusable diningware would be a great start!,) free wi-fi, and comfortable seating are all things that would be relatively easy for Amtrak to do and probably not too offensive to the baby boomers.

 

No need for the flowers on the table, though. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

jis post: a good idea!( and I'm still in favor of the Senior Discount As I am not Wealthy!😁😄)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey! personally I will happily take all the discounts I can get. But when I look at it taking myself and my own advantages out of the equation, what I see is what I posted.

 

Actually anyone getting a reasonable level of Social Security, Railroad Pension and/or other Government or Industry Pension is probably doing better financially than a typical student with no or minimal financial help from their parents. Just keep that in mind when thinking about Student Discounts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today’s Seniors will pass away, however, as they do each day, a new group of those lucky enough to live so long, graduate to Senior status.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree that of the people I've met on Amtrak, the only ones who seemed to be really highly price-conscious were the youth. The student discount is probably advisable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Valid points, but wouldn't your aims be better served then by lower overall pricing, rather than a discount that only some people have access to?

 

(as an aside, does the equipment still exist to run 18 car trains routinely?)

 

You can only lower your prices so much, particularly with Congress mandating maximums on discount while attempting to reduce the subsidy. This is going while costs are still climbing.

 

As for routinely operating 18 car trains, you probably couldn't do it these days....unless other trains ran with 1 car! :)

 

It's been very interesting to catch up on this thread. Thirdrail, you bring up some interesting points. Ridership does go up every year, though, so are you saying there has been less recently?

 

I'm also interested in the answer to if there is enough equipment to go around for the longer trains that you speak of, TR. Wouldn't longer consists cause even more issues at stations with short or medium-length platforms though?

Or offer some close-in discounts to fill trains that are running pretty quiet that day (or that week) closer-in than what the SmartFares currently allow.

THIS! A million times this. I think ridership would soar if Amtrak lowered fares in the days or the week before departure. Don't some airlines do this to fill planes? I know most of AU's members are long-distance users, but there are quite a few of us that travel on the NEC. I understand Amtrak is trying to make the most money it possibly can in order to eventually break even/make a profit and pour that revenue into capital projects, but some of the fares on the NEC, especially for short rides, are pretty ridiculous. Yes, the WAS–NYP corridor is fast and very congested, but who wants to pay double, triple, or even more than driving or taking the bus? Yes, the train is faster (usually not by much though), more comfortable, and a better experience, but when you're a college student, a family of four, and/or buying at the last minute, it gets to be too expensive.

 

Yes, I do enjoy having two seats to myself on the NEC, which occasionally happens (recently not as much), but we all know more ridership=more revenue=more Amtrak=curing Amtrak.

 

Ridership probably climbs every year, particularly since Amtrak still manages some of the state supported services and they are subsidized by the states. Long trains would require proper loading and proper planning....just like they did for years.

 

As for your second thought, this is the way Amtrak used to operate. There was plenty of walk up, last minute travel because prices were consistent. Even when you had the old "three bucket" reservation system, the buckets didn't change based upon how close to the the departure time you were. It change based upon train availability.

 

Additionally, Amtrak used to have discounts such as "Shopper's Excursion discounts" that were tailored to riders on certain trains, between certain city pairs on certain days of the week. There were round trip excursion fares. Indeed, a lot of the discounted fares used to be blacked out approaching major holiday in addition to every Friday and Sunday (typically 11a-7p).

 

It is easy enough to do if you're looking to ease the crunch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use the AAA discount for hotels, rental cars and until now, rail. The AAA travel website is still pretty good for trip planning of various types. Ive never seen AAA as anti-rail, more like pro-travel. I hate that this goes away now, as I was within a couple years of the old senior discount age. The rail, car rental, and hotel combo is a pretty viable one in my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having read every post in this thread I still find myself supporting the student and NARP discounts. I'm less enthusiastic about the senior discount. Not because I don't think it helps but rather because I'm fairly certain that any senior discount which remains will simply follow the current scorched earth generation into the sunset like so many other social and financial benefits. I'm indifferent toward the AAA discount so long as AAA covers at least 50% of the cost.

I think a neglected point on this thread is that Amtrak uses price buckets to tie train prices to demand. A low demand train is by definition already discounted for that day because it's still in the lowest price bucket.


This would be more relevant if congress hadn't created special restrictions on the maximum allowable deviation between the highest and lowest buckets. Amtrak's ability to precisely tie fares to widely varying levels of demand is somewhat clumsy and limited as a result. Which is part of the reason special fares and discounts remain important and necessary.

Today’s Seniors will pass away, however, as they do each day, a new group of those lucky enough to live so long, graduate to Senior status.

 

Today "senior" typically refers to a pensioner or retiree. Soon it will refer to elderly employees too busy trying to earn enough money to make up for receding benefits and budget shortfalls to spend much time or money on sunset joyrides.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe there should be a Student Discount, because those who would travel by train and/or bus do not have the money that many other students. The amount of the Senior discount is minimal, but every dollar helps when planning a trip. !0% off rail fair and 10% off the hotel room can add up to a few meals on a week plus trip. The more people who belong to NARP the stronger the organization becomes and that benefits Amtrak. A question to ask is if it is Amtrak cutting off AAA or is it AAA that no longer wants to participate. I remember a hotel franchise owner telling me that he was afraid that the AARP discount was in trouble because the hotel chain and AARP could not agree on the contract. They did at the last minute, but this raises that question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe if it is problematic figuring out who is actually a student and who is not, one could consider doing a European style Youth Discount scheme which is purely age based and therefore easy to check and verify?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Almost all College students have a photo ID which is an "Everything" card. Even the High Schools in our area require all students to have Photo ID's. It would easy to require the School photo ID.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe if it is problematic figuring out who is actually a student and who is not, one could consider doing a European style Youth Discount scheme which is purely age based and therefore easy to check and verify?

That would be fine. Non-students of college age are typically also dirt poor, and of course those under 18 are typically really skint.

Edited by neroden

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Almost all College students have a photo ID which is an "Everything" card. Even the High Schools in our area require all students to have Photo ID's. It would easy to require the School photo ID.

What works in your area doesn't necessarily transfer nationwide. A great many HS students don't have a photo student ID.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm kind of whatever they are getting rid of this. The AAA discount generally becomes a nuissance on the the Surfliner if your in Business Class and need to make changes. If you buy a coach ticket with the discount, you can still jump on any train that departs 3 days after your purchase date but if your plan changes and you need to leave sooner, then you need to pay the discount back or get a talking to from the conductor. At least on the Surfliner, using the AAA discount really takes the flexibility out of what is a very lenient ticketing policy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×