Why I'll Never Ride Amtrak Again

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by NeverAgain, Nov 18, 2019.

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  1. Nov 19, 2019 #26

    jiml

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    I hate to break it to you, but Montreal can be very "hit or miss". They sometimes don't announce stuff in the lounge, then the customer is made to feel responsible for not responding in time whether it's boarding, diner reservations, etc. I believe it's called "circling the wagons". My process in the lounge in Montreal is to grab a seat near the window and watch very closely what is going on outside. On the "hit" days though, they're very good.
     
  2. Nov 19, 2019 #27

    SarahZ

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    CUS has extremely long platforms, so there is no need to board one group, shift the train, and then board the other group.

    Sleeper passengers are boarded first because they have priority boarding. Once they're out of the way, it frees up the staff to deal with the surge of coach passengers headed their way. The line of coach passengers can often stretch back to and even into the station, so the car attendants do their best to ask your destination, scribble a car/seat assignment on a seat check, and hand it to you while pointing to the car you need. Then it's onto the next passenger as quickly as possible.

    When it's a busy weekend or holiday season, it's a bit like herding cats, especially when you have Red Caps and passengers from incoming trains weaving their way in and out of the mix. If it's rush hour, now you have thousands of Metra passengers added to the mix.

    It can be absolute chaos at times, and it's hard to hear the conductors and car attendants over the sounds of the locomotives and other assorted noise. I am not excusing this particular conductor at all, but I do understand why they have to "bark" at times.

    I highly recommend taking a trip to Chicago at some point. I find it kind of fun to watch the rush hour crowds, from the moment they cross the bridges along Adams and Jackson to the moment they descend into the station and merge into a line of people walking to the North or South Concourse. There's a definite pattern and flow to the way everyone walks, almost like the station becomes a living organism and the passengers are blood rushing through the veins. It's one of those moments that makes me feel truly alive.
     
  3. Nov 19, 2019 #28

    Sauve850

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    Ive traveled thru CUS many times on various LD trains. Ive witnessed some chaos and rudeness especially when the lounge doesn't communicate downstream to the gate area and they dont know the herd is coming. Couple that with walking towards the departure gate and other passengers crossing in front of you heading to other commuter trains/gates and you can see the deer in headlights look on some faces. I know exactly where Im going and try to guide some that have that look. Never have had anyone yell at me. As previously stated it seems unusual that everyone was so rude especially a conductor. Other major stations have problems at times also. SEA has horrible acoustics so when you see the EB train pull in you have to wing it sometimes. EMY to catch the CZ has someone come out from behind the counter (last few trips of mine) and yell instructions to all the passengers and they head out like its a fire drill and the train isnt there yet. I stay back with a dozen or so others that wait till you can hear the horn of the train 10 minutes later then head out knowing where the sleepers are located as the train slows to a stop. LAX is a smaller lounge so Ive found it easy at that station. Out the back door and a golf cart takes me to the track boarding area.
     
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  4. Nov 19, 2019 #29

    AmtrakBlue

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    That's common at a lot of stations with short platforms. This thread is about a large station where the train begins it's journey and there are long platforms.
     
  5. Nov 19, 2019 #30

    Devil's Advocate

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    ...
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  6. Nov 19, 2019 #31

    jloewen

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    Washington Union Station personnel, especially those ON the train, NOT those in the Acela lounge and not usually those who open the station doors and direct people down the escalators, are frequently unhelpful. At the least, they disappear precisely when needed, that is, when passengers and need assistance, especially on those tracks that require stepping up into the train. And sometimes, they are the opposite of welcoming within the train. Not always. The personnel on the Vermonter N of Springfield are nicer.
     
  7. Nov 19, 2019 #32

    Steve4031

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    This is not that strange of a story. Conductor Nick needs to be retrained. The rest of it is general incompetence.

    I’ve learned to ignore and navigate most of this. But a couple of summers ago I was yelled at by an employee in the metropolitan lounge for sitting in the seats at the front of the lounge that were normally used by people with food. There was nobody sitting there. I needed to complete a phone call where I knew I would have to speak louder than normal because the other person was hard of hearing.
    This tool started yelling at me in an authoative voice that I can’t sit there. I told him for the price I’m paying for a sleeper he was not going to yell at me. I demanded to speak to his supervisor. He refused. So I left the lounge to find another employee who would get the supervisor. We both walked around the station looking for the manager. He had a concerned look on his face. Since if retrained him he has minded his manners.
     
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  8. Nov 19, 2019 #33

    Cho Cho Charlie

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    Before passing judgment, I would sure like to hear the other side of this story.

    I am left wondering if since @NeverAgain appears to have started their trek to the train walking amongst the Coach passengers, if he/she was tagged by all the Amtrak employees there, as an arrogant Coach passenger repeatedly refusing to follow directions. I am sure the Amtrak employees on the platform get those types too; a Coach passenger who thinks they know the "tricks" to get first pick of seats by walking "here" and turning "there".

    BTW, priority boarding can also be amongst the last to board. As pointed out, Sleeper passengers already have their reserved spot on the train. I mean its not like the first Sleeper passengers get the best bedrooms. I know in Orlando, while Coach passengers are queued up like a bunch of hyperactive 3rd graders, Sleeper passengers are free to meander over to the train to board whenever they like; be it first or last.
     
  9. Nov 19, 2019 #34

    Devil's Advocate

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    "We thought they were a coach passenger, so you can naturally understand why we would boss them around and ignore their responses before chastising them for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with no apologies."
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  10. Nov 19, 2019 #35

    SarahZ

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    They showed their boarding pass to the conductor, though. I've shown up a bit late before and was waved through once they saw I was in a room.

    "Know where you're going?"

    "Yep."

    "Ok. Go ahead."

    Boom. Done. One less cat to herd.
     
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  11. Nov 19, 2019 #36

    anumberone

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    I just curious how far the poor soul was going and am wondering how many passengers trip was ruined after being hammered by her tale of woe.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  12. Nov 19, 2019 #37

    chakk

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    While EMY does send an agent from behind the counter out the front door to direct passengers to proper boarding locations for sleepers and coaches, some more exact instructions than "go down the platform past the elevator" would be helpful. On my most recent trip on #6, the sleeper passengers stopped on the platform before even reaching the spot for the SSL. It was I (traveling in coach) who informed the gaggle to walk another 200 feet north on the platform and show your ticket to the first attendant that you see step off the train in that vicinity.
     
  13. Nov 19, 2019 #38

    Cho Cho Charlie

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    Yes. Of course. They have yet another Coach passenger who repeatedly refuses to follow instructions. Unlike you, I don't think they deserve a hug instead.

    While I haven't ever seen an uncooperating Coach passenger in, like, Orlando, I would not hold it against the Amtrak employees on the platform having to get tough with one if they don't want to get (and stay) in line.

    This is quite different from, like, Philly where most (all?) Sleeper passengers arrive to the platform by elevator, making it much more easy to ID them from Coach passengers.
     
  14. Nov 19, 2019 #39

    drdumont

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    "I'll never ..." Well, I said the same thing about Eastern Airlines and Continental Air Lines, and look what happened to them! <G>
    Actually, I was good as my word, and even cost them lots of money by moving my crew's company issued tickets to another airline which gave them upgraded status.

    But to get on point, although I didn't have nearly as bad a time at CUS when boarding the sleepers on 21, I did find the whole experience a little disorganized, and the front desk guardians could have been a little less huffy.
    OTOH, the Phila, New Orleans, and especially the LAX lounges were very pleasant and deserve kudos.
    YMMV, I guess...
     
  15. Nov 19, 2019 #40

    Steve4031

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    I also had issues a few times boarding 22 in St. Louis. Most times it was no problem. But one time we arrived shortly after boarding had started. We got on the train and settled in. We were sent to breakfast, and after breakfast I realized tickets had not been scanned/collected. I went and found the conductor who lectured me for not following directions in St. Louis. What directions? I was completely baffled, confused, and irritated.

    On another trip we were scheduled to booked to board the transition sleeper. The SCA greeted us by saying "I dont have any passengers getting on here." I told him, "It's not my fault you did not read your manifest. We bought these tickets months ago so our names should be on their as boarding in STL, Then he told us we had to walk to the other sleeping car to board and haul our luggage up to the transition car. This would involve a trip up the stairs in the other sleeper and down the stairs in the transiton sleeper. I took my rollaboard and tossed it in the door. Then GF's two bags. Then we walked up to the other sleeper. At this point I heard last call for breakfast and rerouted GF into diner to hold our place while I took care of the luggage. I returned to put the luggage in the luggage racks. The SCA just stood there. I was not happy.

    We returned from breakfast and he tried to explain that we could not board because the train was being fueled at the time. I told him, "Right now the best thing for you to do is to disappear for the rest of the trip and hope I forget you exist so I don't write you up."

    About 95% of my trips are problem free, and I usually ignore some of the stupidity. But one event like this leaves a bad lasting impression on an infrequent traveler.
     
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  16. Nov 19, 2019 #41

    jis

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    Oh yeah. I remember Alan and I got lectured by a Conductor on the CONO at Memphis for the same transgression of not having the ticket scanned before boarding. Except that in our case the station agent told us to go to the Sleeping Car and mentioned nothing about Conductor. So we had a short discussion with the Conductor requesting him to please prove that we were actually told to wait for the Conductor or STFU. He STFU-ed with much grumbling that followed. Dropping a few names that were on our fast dial lists on the phone did not hurt either. ;) But really, what is a run of the mill passenger who does not know anyone in Amtrak operations to do? It's ridiculous.
     
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  17. Nov 19, 2019 #42

    Devil's Advocate

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    So in your view treating people with dignity is tantamount to hugging them? That's such a bizarre connection.

    Why should Amtrak feel the need to boss their customers around or "get tough" with anyone who doesn't represent an actual threat?
     
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  18. Nov 20, 2019 #43

    Katibeth

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    In Apr/May 2019, I took the Empire Builder roundtrip from Chicago to Seattle. It was my first time traveling via Amtrak. The lady at the entrance to the Metropolitan Lounge in CUS was extremely nice. Unfortunately, she had to keep reminding folks to check in with her before re-entering the Lounge each time. I started to think I was the only one following directions, because by the 3rd time, she told me: "Oh, you're fine, go right ahead." When it was time, she asked that travelers who wanted assistance with luggage to form a line outside the Lounge. She tried getting the attention of the gentleman who was assisting folks, but he insisted on helping all of the Coach passengers first. I found this a bit odd. When it came to our turn, the "vehicle" held 4 passengers and associated luggage. I had to hang on for dear life as he was flying through the halls and down the platform. The sleeper Car Attendant was fantastic. She should be teaching Amtrak employees how to deal with passengers. Several times, she went out of her way to help me with various things. She set the bar so high that the return sleeper Car Attendant couldn't come close to achieving her standards. He was very nice and polite, but that was about it. The day we left Seattle was the same day that an oil freight train derailed about 40 miles west of Stanley, ND. The fiery mess destroyed the track, so we didn't hear about it until we reached Williston, ND where we sat overnight. They finally rebuilt the track at the accident site, and we proceeded late the following morning after an unscheduled change of some of the crew. The chef threw together beef stew for almost everyone, including coach passengers, and a vegetarian version for those requiring it. Of course, it was included for Sleeper Car Passengers, but it was free for coach passengers, as well. We arrived back in Chicago about 15-1/2 hours late at about 5:30 a.m. They didn't have enough to serve breakfast on the train, but a continental breakfast and juice and coffee was available to everyone, including Coach passengers, at the Metropolitan Lounge. I was amazed at how nice all of the employees remained. They had to deal with quite a few irate passengers, and I thought they handled it quite well. Sorry that some folks run into grumpy employees from time to time.
     
  19. Nov 20, 2019 #44

    dlagrua

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    When dealing with any organization, you can expect to have good experiences and bad experiences. In our years of traveling Amtrak most of the Amtrak employees that we have met have been very good. Yes there have been a couple of bad apples along the way but life is far from perfect. All we can do is call attention to the rough spots by contacting customer service. Complaining on this forum will not cure any problems.
     
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  20. Nov 20, 2019 #45

    I like rolling hotels

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    I like rolling hotels

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    I make it a point to send feedback about the good ones. I don't know if anyone pays attention but I hope so.
     
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  21. Nov 20, 2019 #46

    Steve4031

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    I routinely send good reports to the comments section on Amtrak’s website. Where there is time I share it with the employee by letting them read it. They enjoy that.
     
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  22. Nov 21, 2019 #47

    Qapla

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    On our recent trip on the Meteor and the Star we had some of the same crew we have had in the past. Our experiences have been good ones with these people and when we boarded we got a nice smile from the attendant because we remembered her and she gave me a hug when we got off at our destination. On our return trip we had a conductor we had before. When we got to our home stop we got a hearty handshake from both the conductor and the car attendant.
     
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  23. Nov 21, 2019 #48

    Thogo

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    I mostly ride trains in Europe, and I have made overall positive experiences. Doing around 25 to 30k miles per year on trains, I did occasionally have experiences of rude or just blatantly idiotic behavior by railroad staff, of course. But those are extremely rare and exceptional. 99% of the staff is friendly, if you are friendly. Naturally, if you approach them in a rude, demanding, or jerky way, you'll get an equal response.

    What I do find often, unfortunately, is staff who just don't know their railroad. I repeatedly get into situations where people around myself ask conductors questions about connecting trains, or even simple things like estimated arrival times, that they answer wrongly, or just can't answer at all. But honestly, in the US I never had such problems. More to the contrary. I once rode NJT from Dover to Teterboro and boarded a train that happened to bypass Secaucus Jct, where I knew I had to change. (I could have taken the next train a few minutes later, but ...) The conductor could tell me exactly without looking anything up where I had to change, into which train number, and how much time I had to change. I found that amazing - and it worked exactly like he told me.

    So... The traveller who started this thread should just give Amtrak another chance, and always keep in mind that railroad staff are humans, too.
     
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  24. Nov 21, 2019 #49

    Devil's Advocate

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    Or maybe Amtrak and the OP are simply not a good match. How would you feel if the OP said you should just stop riding Amtrak because they had a bad experience. Same low effort reasoning.
     
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  25. Nov 22, 2019 #50

    VAtrainfan

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