NYP Mezzanine Boarding

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by William W., Jul 1, 2014.

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  1. Jul 1, 2014 #1

    William W.

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    William W.

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    I'm aware of the NYP Mezzanine "loophole" to avoid Amtrak's mess that is their NYP boarding process, and have done additional research on the subject. I've read on a few sites that Amtrak has been sporadically stationing ATP at the Mezzanine track entrances to stop this in the last few years, but it wasn't with any regularity. The most recent information I could find on the status of this was from last year.

    My question is this: Has Amtrak closed the "loophole" or can I still board their trains from the Mezzanine level? The reason I ask is that I'm taking the Acela from NYP to WAS at the beginning of August, and would like to avoid Amtrak's stupidity if I can.

    One other related question: Does Amtrak board passengers directly from the Acela lounge at NYP (like they do at the other stations with lounges), or do you have to board like everyone else? (I have a first-class upgrade, so I will most likely be traveling in First, and therefore have access to the Acela lounge). I've gotten the impression from some sites that NYP's Club Acela does not board passengers like all the other lounges do.

    (I realize that I've started several new threads over the last few days and I want to make sure that I'm not posting too many. I do try to search for previous threads that may answer my questions before posting a new one. My intention is not to spam the forum).
     
  2. Jul 1, 2014 #2

    Silver Star rider

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    I don't know about 'the loophole' you mention. Cant help you there. When I am hanging in the lounge waiting for boarding on the Star, they have a attendant walk us down to the train once they find out the train has arrived from the yard before they allow the 'commoners' to board. :)

    The attendant in the lounge usually finds out the track assignment before its posted on the board for the commoners to queue up at the gate.

    Bruce

    P.S. my use of the word 'commoners' is meant as a joke only... don't take me serious :)
     
  3. Jul 1, 2014 #3

    OBS

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    They do still have officers there, but it is inconsistent and usually mid day hours...
     
  4. Jul 1, 2014 #4

    Allypet

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    I daily I walk pass tracks 11 and 12 that ATP is always stationed at in the morning and in the past year there have been there more often then not. But now that I think of it, in the past few weeks I cant remember seeing them once.
     
  5. Jul 1, 2014 #5

    Anderson

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    From what I can tell, at most ATP tosses someone down there in passing, but Amtrak also uses about 10-12 tracks in NYP. Every time I board an Acela, you seem to get a flock of people who hear the train call and immediately bolt from the lounge to the NJT concourse and down the steps from there. Fundamentally, the problem is that (1) ATP would need to have 3-4 folks down there continually to stop this and the problem simply isn't worth effectively throwing a few hundred thousand dollars per year at; (2) I do not believe there is anything posted against boarding down there, likely limiting what they can do other than tell you to go back upstairs; (3) Amtrak will inevitably end up with cases where an NJT or LIRR train and an Amtrak train are boarding on the same platform from different tracks and have things go haywire when they try to stop boarding for one but not the other; and (4) NYP is enough of a zoo at peak hours regardless that trying to force the issue really isn't worth the hassle.

    Basically...even if they have someone stationed "down there" they simply can't cover all the tracks near peak hours, and most of the folks who know about the loophole can probably get from the lounge to their train before ATP can get turned around to the right gate. The way NYP is set up right now, ATP has about as much chance of stopping this as campus police have of stopping jaywalking around a college.
     
  6. Jul 2, 2014 #6

    railiner

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    All True...

    And besides, there are other ways down to some of the tracks, like the handicap elevator's, the far west concourse, etc.....if you have a scanner, you can hear the train announcer telling the usher's in advance the track numbers....
     
  7. Jul 2, 2014 #7

    Anderson

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    True, and I've also used red caps to dodge lines (another trick that should result in a polite tip).
     
  8. Jul 2, 2014 #8

    railiner

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    Right....they also carry radio's and hear the track assignments from the train announcer....
     
  9. Jul 2, 2014 #9

    jis

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    If I have luggage I use Red Cap. If not, first go down to the NJT/arrival level, and see if anyone ios checking. If not use the gate there. If someone is stopping folks there, just walk over to the NJT/LIRR East End Concourse or the Central Passageway, and use the gates tehre. Never seen anyone stopping anyone from doing anything there, and all tracks are accessible from the east end concourse.
     
  10. Jul 2, 2014 #10

    afigg

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    When the expanded West End concourse opens in a few years (maybe mid-2016?), it will offer another way to get to the platforms for boarding Amtrak trains. However, Amtrak may post someone in the West End concourse to check tickets.
     
  11. Jul 2, 2014 #11

    amamba

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    When you are in the Club Acela, they will announce the gate/track but then you still have to go wait in line with everyone else at the top of the escalator at the amtrak level. You might be first in line, but you still have to wait.

    That is why I generally use a red cap in NYP.
     
  12. Jul 2, 2014 #12

    jis

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    I am sure Amtrak will lose no opportunity to increase wasteful expenditure to hire as many people as possible to hang around and chat supposedly guarding various gates at Penn Station. it is the nature of the beast. :)
     
  13. Jul 2, 2014 #13

    Silver Star rider

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    Maybe it depends on the train?? All the times I used the lounge, while they have coach passengers lining up on the west gate, a attendant opens the east gate escalators to take the 1st class passengers down to the train, or vice a versa.

    Bruce-SSR
     
  14. Jul 2, 2014 #14

    amamba

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    I am talking about for an acela or a regional.
     
  15. Jul 2, 2014 #15

    Anderson

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    Again, not if you immediately make a bolt for the NJT level. It's how I got on the afternoon Acela the other day: I heard my train called, headed out, and positioned myself in the NJT level where I could see the board. As soon as the gate "popped" on the board, I was down those stairs.

    Edit: Something I never considered, but would it be feasible to do the same thing via Gate A at Washington (i.e. head out the MARC gate and then nip around to one of the western tracks for an Amtrak train)? I know you can't make it all the way over to the VRE/through tracks, but I haven't looked at the possibility of either doing this or using the VRE gates to duck onto a VA-bound Amtrak train.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2014
  16. Jul 2, 2014 #16

    jis

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    It's Washington! They probably have the elite urban combat units deployed to protect the trains from dangerous, disruptive , pointless rule breaking passengers! :lol:

    Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum
     
  17. Jul 3, 2014 #17

    Anderson

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    Eh, the only trouble I ever had in DC was when a soldier mixed me up for being another soldier (the train was military heavy and I had ACU pants on and an ACU backpack) and warned me that my hair was out of reg and I was likely to be smoked for it.
     
  18. Jul 3, 2014 #18

    amamba

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    That is why I specified "ON THE AMTRAK LEVEL." Of course you can use the mezzanine boarding strategy if that is your preference.
     
  19. Jul 3, 2014 #19

    William W.

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    I've never really thought about that for D.C, as I don't use that station very often, and when I do, I have Club Acela access (and they DO take you directly to the train when it is called).

    I suppose that you could use the MARC entrance to access the upper level tracks. As for the lower level ones, I don't remember the VRE waiting room covering all of the tracks, just the ones that VRE trains are normally routed to. I think that, for the most part, you have to suffer through if boarding at a lower level track.
     
  20. Jul 3, 2014 #20
    I've done this at least twice on through Regionals to and from Virginia. It was a rest-stop situation where I got off the train for a quick meal and reboarded well before the boarding call for originating passengers.
     
  21. Jul 3, 2014 #21

    HAL

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    There is a gate there that is usually closed with signs that say employees only plus usually armed men with dogs that will take exception to you doing that in Washington. As far as going thru the VRE gate and ducking around for a VA bound train. There are often Amtrak police there too.
     
  22. Jul 3, 2014 #22

    railiner

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    IIRC, they do just that on periods of extremely heavy travel, like Thanksgiving...even have ushers stamp tickets "used", as it's impossible for crews to collect tickets on packed trains...

    Or at least they did that practice years ago.....
     
  23. Jul 3, 2014 #23

    William W.

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    They couldn't do that now, since Amtrak doesn't use paper value tickets anymore.

    I guess I could understand on a holiday, but still. What does preventing people from using other entrances do for security? If anything, the more people you have in a confined space, the greater potential there is for mass casualties if something happens. I would think that they would want to spread people out because of this. To me, the NYP boarding area when a bunch of trains are called at once is more more dangerous than anything that could result from unsecured track entrances. I tend not to like being near large crowds in transit hubs and events because of this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2014
  24. Jul 3, 2014 #24

    Anderson

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    There's a reason you have armed, armored-up troops in there on a regular basis. Granted, I can't speak to how useful they would be, but there have generally been multiple patrols in the past. More than that I'd rather not post too openly.
     
  25. Jul 3, 2014 #25

    William W.

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    I'm completely OK with heavy police and Guard patrols at these major stations. Deterrence is always a good thing, and the more good guys with guns, the better in my book.

    I know that the presence of the National Guard has been controversial, but I don't really have problem with them being there. The main reason they are there, from what I've read, is to assist with the pre-planned National Guard surge (that is, bringing in large numbers of troops by rail very quickly), if there ever was to be another major event in Manhattan. That's an even better reason for them to be there in my opinion.
     

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