Bike stuff

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by Bjartmarr, Jul 25, 2016.

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  1. Mar 22, 2019 #101

    Thirdrail7

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    Well, the service standards book that floats around has the Amtrak violations, which largely revolve around securing. As for the FRA, it is likely contained in the same memorandum of implementation (or possibly understanding)that also contains why only Amtrak trains must have have a passenger manifest (in case of an accident..because commuter trains NEVER get in accidents), is currently exempt from the PTC speed restrictions on the NEC (because what could possibly go wrong there), must carry air test results on the equipment (which is a freight rule, not a passenger rule) and a host of other things that seemingly only apply to Amtrak.

    High speed bungee cords, anyone? Oh wait...not allowed to use bungee cords.
     
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  2. Mar 22, 2019 #102

    Barb Stout

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    TiBiker, an outsider like myself would assume the rule about securing bikes is to prevent damage to the bikes. Is there something wrong with my reasoning?
     
  3. Mar 22, 2019 #103

    jis

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    What's that all about?
     
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  4. Mar 22, 2019 #104

    TiBike

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    OK, so there's no rule that specifically applies to bicycles that you know of, just general rules that involve securing items in the baggage car? The bike in the picture, and the other two bikes I observed were no more or less secured than any other baggage. If it weren't contraband, a bungee cord would have been a good precaution, but the bikes were stable as they were. I've seen similar on another Amtrak route (I won't mention which one, because I'd hate to spark yet another undercover jihad) when bike racks were full. But it was passengers who were doing the leaning, so maybe that's allowed.

    BTW, I don't recall complaining on this forum about Amtrak employees not following rules as such. I've kvetched about actions that others have said were against rules, and about inconsistent behaviour, which relates to rules, but not about actual rule breaking. I could be wrong about that – I don't recall every post I've made. If I have, I'll take a mea culpa for it. On the other hand, I've admitted rulebreaking (see posts about onboard booze), praised other actions that I'd guess were contrary to rules (e.g. business class attendant getting passengers into the PPC and a station agent handing a roll up bicycle up to a train), and advocated gaming rules (e.g. 750 mile rule).

    Some rules are necessary for safety and good service, but a lot of Amtrak rules work to prevent good service. On a recent trip, the train was an hour and a half late arriving at the station where I boarded. I waited by the baggage car for the conductor to finish doing whatever else she needed to do, while half a dozen or so other staff stood around doing nothing for at least ten minutes (there weren't many passengers to board). The conductor couldn't get to me until the passenger cars were closed up (except the very last coach) and the train was otherwise ready to go. She had to walk up most of the length of the train and then had trouble with the door, but finally took my bike. I then had to go the length of the train to the last coach. That all took about another ten minutes. So a train that was already late ended up at least ten minutes later because only one person could do the necessary work.

    Some Amtrak rules are counterproductive. If someone acts contrary to the rules and produces a better result, I have no problem at all with it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  5. Mar 22, 2019 #105

    TiBike

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    I don't know what the rules are. Securing a bike with a bungee cord, or even just hooking the handbars over something (like the folded shelves in the picture) is a good precaution, but not strictly necessary in this case. My original point was that Amtrak's restrictions on bikes on long distance trains are unnecessary and counterproductive, and that rational, customer-focused policy will result in better service.
     
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  6. Mar 23, 2019 #106

    Barb Stout

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    I couldn't tell from the picture that the bicycle handles were hooked over anything. I thought it was just leaning against the car wall. Hooking like this seems reasonable to me.
     
  7. Mar 23, 2019 #107

    TiBike

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    You're right -- it's not hooked. What I was trying to say is that it would have been a good idea to hook the handlebars over the folded shelves. It's actually pretty stable as you see it in the picture, and there didn't seem to be a problem with any of the bikes. I'm guessing it wasn't the conductor's first rodeo. I would have hooked the handlebars out of habit, though.
     
  8. May 12, 2019 #108

    TiBike

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    The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority approved its latest business plan last month. Lots of bicycle upgrades in progress, including this:

    "Designing an onboard bicycle storage solution for the Superliner cars, which are leased from Amtrak for operations in the Capitol Corridor system."

    There is $230K in the budget for the design and installation work for the Superliner cars and for a similar redesign of bike racks in cab cars. It would be a wonderful thing if Amtrak accepts this gift from California taxpayers and replicates the solution across its fleet. Or maybe California will be able to take over running all the trains here, and solve the (very simple) problem of roll on bikes itself.

    The last numbers I saw, from 2016, showed that 13.5% of Capitol Corridor trips involve a bicycle, although not necessarily on the train (i.e. to/from stations too). That number has increased, although I don't know by how much. But the Capitol Corridor JPA is spending money trying to keep up:

     
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  9. May 12, 2019 #109

    Thirdrail7

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    Trains without PTC are still allowed to operate at speeds above 79mph despite the law that was postponed until 12/31/18. I suppose the law was postponed with the PTC extension but other railroads are enforcing the 79mph.

    There are specific rules about securing bicycles and general rules about securing other items.

    Again, it wasn't Amtrak that wanted this. As I've stated to you various times in the past, I'm not sure why certain railroads are restricted to certain levels while other are not. The only thing I can think of is it it based upon the regulations governing certain types of operations (e.g. Tier 1, Tier II, Long Distance Intercity, Short Distance Intercity, Commuter Service,etc). However, the bottom line is additional security was demanded since there is concern that these bikes would become flying, handled projectiles in a derailment. That is the major concern. NJT had to install bike mounting areas and they have to be secured. Meanwhile, MARC has bike mounting areas that do not require supplemental restraints....and the operate up to 125mph!! Perhaps it has something to do with the actual mounting system.

    At any rate, leaning an unsecured bike or throwing it in the vestibule is not allowed...whether you agree with it or not...and that goes for many different that have different policies.

    Which reminds me of one of the videos that showed up on another board. Two passengers showed up on a NJT train with their bikes....outside of the hours allowed. NJT has additional restrictions, indicating that the crews may also limit bikes if crowding exists, so the hours mean very little since the crew has the final say.

    The passengers, wouldn't take no for an answer, the police were summoned who cited them for delaying public transportation and chaos ensues...because they have their bikes and it is their right to travel with their bikes because as the young lady states "we ARE public transportation."



    What occurs at one agency does not reflect how things operate at other agencies. BTW,I strongly advise against biting police officers. I never thought it was a good idea. After watching this video, I'm now sure it isn't a good idea.

    As you posted, those cars are leased to CA and they can do what they wish with them. Again, those cars are part of a dedicated fleet assigned to what is basically intrastate travel, or commuter service.

    In other words, you won't see those cars on the Auto Train or the Sunset Limited. You won't see them on the Heartland Flyer nor should you see them subbing for the Horizon cars on Pere Marquette. You will see them in CA.

    So, it would probably not be a wonderful thing to remove seats from a car that may travel to other areas that are suffering from capacity constraints (remember, some people were outraged over the removal of NON REVENUE seating to accommodate a few bikes) and reduce available revenue seating to cars that may interchange throughout the United States...and to trains with dedicated baggage cars.
     
  10. May 13, 2019 #110

    TiBike

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    Okay, you convinced me. I'm not advocating for unsecured bikes, particularly. As I said, I would have hooked the handlebar over the rack. And I would have felt better tying it down.

    I don't doubt you when you say some rules are different for say, long distance trains and commuter lines. I'm not convinced that federally mandated, bicycle-specific rules, if such exist, differ significantly, but I've never seen FRA rules and I should cure that ignorance. I would say, though, that what are often perceived as differences in rules (of any kind) are actually differences in interpretation, which lead to differences in policy.

    Breaking rules can lead to unpleasant consequences. No argument there. I've never claimed cyclists are invariably pleasant people. I wouldn't even make that claim about myself :). There's a difference between being properly assertive and being an a**h***. They were way over the line. That wasn't even a righteous case of civil disobedience. There are ways about going about that, including accepting – welcoming, even – the consequences.

    The gift is the design and, presumably, any validation and/or certification work that might be necessary. I never assumed California will give those cars back anytime soon. I'm hoping CCJPA comes up with a creative solution that works on any Superliner, without having to remove seats. That said, I've seen plenty of Superliner coaches on LD trains with seats removed, to one degree or another, on the lower level. Mechanically, it might turn out to be easier to implement the solution on an LD train. Might. We'll have to wait and see. The bigger issue is cultural: California transit agencies embrace bikes as a natural part of the ecosystem; Amtrak does not. There's no mechanical fix for that.
     
  11. May 16, 2019 #111

    PaulM

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    Has Ottumwa changed? I did a test booking on several different days from OTM to DEN; and the "add bike" section said "sold out" on each day. On one of these days I tried Galesburg to Denver; and it allowed me to book the bike.

    For those not familiar with the route OTM is in between GBB and DEN. So it appears that sold out bike space could, in rare instances, mean actually sold out; but mainly means no such service provided.
     
  12. May 18, 2019 #112

    Thirdrail7

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    There is nothing indicating things have changed at OTM....except for the fact you can not seem to check bikes on the website.

    At any rate, the baggage car equipped long distance trains that ply the NEC will now except bikes for NEC travel.
     
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  13. May 19, 2019 #113

    Pere Flyer

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    That’s a wonderful development. Unfortunately it means those of us north of NYP still can only load our vélos on 65/66/67 to reach destinations on the corridor.
     
  14. May 20, 2019 #114

    TiBike

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    Is that outside of the usual checked baggage process? I'm not very familiar with the NEC. I looked at some of the PDF long distance schedules – I see there's no baggage service at Trenton, for example. Does this mean I'd be able to load/unload a bike at Trenton? Or is it something else?
     
  15. Aug 3, 2019 #115

    TiBike

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    (Moving my reply to this thread).

    I brought back one of these from Japan:



    Packed like that, it's not immediately obvious to a non-cyclist that it's a bicycle (assuming you're not wearing a helmet and spandex :)). It doesn't look more obnoxious than the supersized luggage, let alone the garbage bags and cardboard boxes full of stuff, that other passengers carry onboard. This kind of "rinko" bag is used to transport bikes on trains in Japan – even on the Shinkansen, which doesn't have much more extra room than an airliner.

    I'm thinking a good test would be to ride down to Paso Robles, and see if I can get back to Salinas with it on the Starlight. I'd be placing myself at the mercy of whatever rules the crew wants to make up on the spot, but that's always the case on Amtrak. Plan B would be catching the later Thruway, which, being a bus, has soooo much more room for luggage than a ten car train.
     
  16. Aug 3, 2019 #116

    IndyLions

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    Dumb question: doesn’t the Starlight allow Roll-up service like I just experienced on the Capitol Limited?

    Or is the issue the fact that the stop(s) you want to use don’t support baggage service?

     
  17. Aug 3, 2019 #117

    TiBike

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    Not a dumb question – Amtrak's bicycle policy and procedures are all over the map. The Starlight has roll up service: check it in at a staffed station, then walk it to the baggage car and hand it up to the conductor. But only at staffed stations with baggage service, and Paso Robles isn't staffed (Salinas is, though). There's great riding in the Paso Robles area (also in Truckee and Chico, two other big bike destinations Amtrak stiffs). From where I live it's either a long, hard one day or easy two day ride.
     
  18. Aug 4, 2019 #118

    IndyLions

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    So if the States dictate it - they’ll allow bike roll-on service without any special equipment (racks, etc) in the cars.

    But if it’s up to them alone (no states involved) - no roll-on without special equipment - ala that ridiculous setup where they removed half the booths from the lounge car for the most inefficient bike storage imaginable. Which had the side effect (more like collateral damage) of removing a significant benefit (booth space) from all passengers - including the bicyclists.

    Since it doesn’t appear to be a state or legislative issue - who do we lobby at Amtrak to get that fixed?

    It can’t be a “rules” issue - otherwise the states’ mandate wouldn’t matter.
     
  19. Aug 5, 2019 #119

    TiBike

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    There's been a claim that federal regulations regarding bicycles are different for long distance and corridor service, but no citation was given and I can't find any evidence of it. So yeah, until someone can point to an actual federal regulation that distinguishes between the two, it's fair to call BS on it. What does seem to be happening is that Amtrak runs in silos, where each little fiefdom has its own rules, which seem to be crafted to maximise employee comfort and convenience. Unless someone, like a state agency that writes the checks, intervenes.

    Who to contact? Good question. With all that's going on, I doubt that anyone in congress or Amtrak's C-suite is going to get excited about it. All that's likely to happen is that it'll get conflated with the cooked-to-order steak dinner lobby. Better to break Amtrak up into corridors and let states, which pay at least some attention to the public, run the show.
     
  20. Aug 7, 2019 #120

    IndyLions

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    Unless you live in IN like I do, and the state would rather pave 3 miles of road rather than pay for train service...
     
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  21. Aug 8, 2019 #121

    PaulM

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    I'm planning a trip on the Silver Star, boarding in DC. Has anyone ever traveled in a a Viewliner sleeper with a folder?

    The only time I did it was on the LSL and I stored it in a coach luggage rack. Would an attendant in DC get an attack of bicycle derangement syndrome?
     
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  22. Sep 1, 2019 #122

    IndyLions

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    Another Great Chicago Day Trip...Way to Go Amtrak!
    Despite the demise of the Hoosier State - I managed to have another great experience this year on what (hopefully) is becoming an annual day trip to Chicago to ride my bike around the Windy City. In 2018, I took the Hoosier State after reading a press release stating that Amtrak had started allowing bicycles on board. Since the Hoosier State is now but a memory - I decided to give it a go on the Cardinal. After researching on Amtrak.com, I was surprised to learn that the Cardinal was a "roll-on" train for bicycles - and that I wouldn't have to get on-board the Cardinal in the hell hole that is the Indianapolis Bus-Train station - my closest station with Baggage Service. The Crawfordsville IN Amshack is my station of choice - and I would be able to roll my bike onboard just like I did on the Hoosier State last year.

    Northbound - I was too late to acquire a Business Class ticket - so I sat in coach. They had me store the bike in the open area behind the last row of the Coach. It looked like they were ready for me - as the space was wide open and waiting. Because I held a Business Class ticket for the return - I had access to the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago - allowing me to change into my riding attire there. Surprisingly - when I asked the Met Lounge attendant if I could temporarily store my bike in the lounge during the change - he agreed to let me put it in the lounge's self-service baggage storage area. I was told later by a more senior attendant that his permission was in error - but I'll get to that later. So after a quick 10 minute change in the Met Lounge - I headed off for a spectacular day of riding the famous Lakeshore Trail - and this year on to Evanston IL to take a self-guided rolling tour of Northwestern University.

    When I reached the Met Lounge several hours and 42 miles later - I was greeted by a more senior attendant who made it clear that there was no way he was letting the bicycle in the lounge. To his credit, however - he personally walked me to the Public Baggage Storage area and helped me stow my bicycle there at no charge. I then headed back to the lounge and once again availed myself of the shower facilities - which are excellent. Then an hour before departure - I went back and retrieved my bike. I parked myself (and my bike) outside the exit door of the Met Lounge so I could join the procession of Sleeper / BC passengers heading off to early boarding of the Cardinal when that time came.

    When I got to the train - the Sleeper attendant was boarding the BC/First Class Passengers - and she was convinced that my bike needed to go in the Baggage Car. I was equally convinced it should not - and went and found the conductor at the other end of the train. He assured me that he'd send one of his colleagues my way and help me stow the bike onboard. He was good to his word - and the other conductor actually helped me get the bike on board (which he didn't have to do - my understanding is that I'm solely responsible for getting it onboard). He then pointed me to a location I didn't expect - a bike rack installed at the front of the BC Lounge. From a bicyclists perspective it's a great place to have your bike. From a rider's perspective in general it's not great - because they removed two booths from the BC lounge area to accommodate the bikes. I will say, however - that the remaining booths in the BC lounge area were never close to capacity during the trip south - so maybe it is not as inconvenient spot to BC passengers as I initially thought.

    Other than a small amount of drama in the Met Lounge and in rebounding - I have nothing but kudos to Amtrak for their policy on the Cardinal and for the cooperation of the employees. Even the sleeping car attendant sought me out later to apologize that she was mistaken on the bike policy for the train. We shared a nice laugh over that.

    Here are some photos of the trip...
    IMG_1154.JPG IMG_9521.JPG IMG_3646.JPG IMG_3328.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
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  23. Sep 1, 2019 #123

    IndyLions

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    I'm amending my original position on taking the booths out for bike storage. If the booths removed are in the BC lounge section of the train - my first hand experience is that those booths are lightly enough used that few if any passengers are being inconvenienced. I still think it is a lousy idea for the regular Cafe Lounge which we all know is heavily used on nearly every long-distance train.

    I'd still prefer a different approach - but this one worked for me and the other passengers on this recent trip on the Cardinal.
     
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  24. Sep 2, 2019 #124

    Pere Flyer

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    Great report and photos, and glad you and your bike had a good experience!
     

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