Thruway bus - yea or nay?

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Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Tadman » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:51 am

As a long-term city dweller, I'm a die hard public transit user. I didn't even bring my car to NOLA when I moved. Often I find there are "buys guys" and "train guys". My sister only rides the Lakeshore Drive express bus. I won't touch busses unless the weather is awful. I had this discussion yesterday with a bunch of guys on the Saint Charles Streetcar, because the downriver end (Lee Circle to downtown) was bustituted for a few weeks in January. I walked.

Which raises the question: would you ride Thruway or other timetable-official bus connections on Amtrak? I lean to "no". Last week I flew to ATL (Crescent bustituted NOL-ATL that week) before boarding 20 for NYP. Granted I did have a meeting in ATL that day. Often I'll ride the NPN train then cab it to Norfolk, as the cab will have me at the hotel before the bus hits the very long bridge between NPN and NFK.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Mackensen » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:01 am

I've done so a few times. I've taken the connection from Toledo to both Ann Arbor and East Lansing, and I've also done the connection from St. Petersburg over to Orlando. In my experience it's fine for a few hours. The buses are of the intercity variety. The seating is at least comparable to an Amfleet I. Many of the buses have WiFi. The ride is comfortable. For me it's usually a function of how close the bus can get me to my final destination, and whether it's preferable to rent a car at the point where I get off the train vs where the bus can take me. It's also a function of time. The Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited hit Toledo fairly early in the morning, well before I can even get a car.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby bdawe » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:57 am

I have many times, since there isn't really an alternative for a trip that I fairly frequently make.

The Coast Starlight departs Seattle at 9:50 AM, and the earliest rail departure from Vancouver only departs at 6:35, and despite it being the year 2018 it isn't going to reach Seattle until 11:00. So there's a 5:30 AM thruway bus departure from Pacific Central Station which connects to the Starlight.

The same is true of the reverse - the Starlight arrives in Seattle at 7:56 PM (in theory) and the last departure for Vancouver left at 7, so it's onto the bus.

The bus is a bit cramped, and you have to stop at the border, unload everyone and everything and drag yourself through the border station and get back on, which is unpleasant after having gotten up for the train. But, it's the way to get to the train
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:22 am

I'm thinking about trying the ORL-TPA connection next month.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby STrRedWolf » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:08 pm

My father noticed the contracted Thruway service at BWI Amtrak station, which has connections out to Ocean City, MD and Cumberland, MD. This got him thinking of taking the Thruway out to Cumberland, then taking the Capitol Limited 30 back through DC and the MARC back up.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Greg Moore » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:59 pm

Given the choice, I will take the train over the bus almost every time.

That said, I'm a HUGE fan of using busses to add feeder service to Amtrak.

But it has to be planned well. The two times I might have used it (I think in both cases it's been removed) the timing on the Thruway bus was horrible; both in terms of the timing of the connection and the actual travel time.

One case is my annual trip to Atlanta and then needing to get up towards Chattanooga. I believe at one point they had bus service, but the timing wasn't great.

Similar was Toledo to Ann Arbor.

That said, proper timing, I'd take advantage of both.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Philly Amtrak Fan » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:25 pm

Tadman wrote:Which raises the question: would you ride Thruway or other timetable-official bus connections on Amtrak? I lean to "no". Last week I flew to ATL (Crescent bustituted NOL-ATL that week) before boarding 20 for NYP. Granted I did have a meeting in ATL that day. Often I'll ride the NPN train then cab it to Norfolk, as the cab will have me at the hotel before the bus hits the very long bridge between NPN and NFK.


There's a reason why they exist. They serve areas not served by Amtrak or add frequencies or and/routes. One Thruway Bus I rode was out in California between San Jose and Santa Barbara. It allowed me to travel "overnight" between the cities rather than take the Coast Starlight and have to give up a whole day traveling.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby David Benton » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:57 pm

Philly Amtrak Fan wrote:
Tadman wrote:Which raises the question: would you ride Thruway or other timetable-official bus connections on Amtrak? I lean to "no". Last week I flew to ATL (Crescent bustituted NOL-ATL that week) before boarding 20 for NYP. Granted I did have a meeting in ATL that day. Often I'll ride the NPN train then cab it to Norfolk, as the cab will have me at the hotel before the bus hits the very long bridge between NPN and NFK.


There's a reason why they exist. They serve areas not served by Amtrak or add frequencies or and/routes. One Thruway Bus I rode was out in California between San Jose and Santa Barbara. It allowed me to travel "overnight" between the cities rather than take the Coast Starlight and have to give up a whole day traveling.

Yes , they can be used to add frequency to a route already served by a train. Some would say this is robbing passengers form the train, I would say it is increasing the likelihood the passenger will take the train in the opposite direction , or another train. I would think one of the most common reasons for not taking Amtrak is because there is not a return service at a suitable hour, or not a connecting service to where they won't to go .
I think we have to remember we are all Rail Fans, we would always choose the train. My mother shocked me by saying she would rather take the bus, her reasoning , the Bus goes through the main street of towns, the Train goes through the industrial back blocks. I think females are more likely to take a bus than males, males are always outnumbered by females on buses I take. Especially in the older age group. Here , I think it is probably males think , "if I need driving , then I'll drive myself". Actually I think all use of public transport runs into a "control" thing, people ( and I think males more so again) feel they are in control when they are driving a car. On public transport , they feel they are under the control of the Driver/ system ). I know in another thread, someone commented a passenger ranting about been delayed on a train , had no comment to make when it was pointed out they were still passing traffic on the adjacent gridlocked motorway.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby electricron » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:16 am

I'm going to make a few angry at me, but it has to be said. Amtrak is in the railroad business, not the bus business. Thruway buses are being used by Amtrak to justify not providing a train service, and I believe that is very, very wrong.
I'll rest my case on just one city to prove my point, Houston. Houston is the home of over 5 million people, greater Houston is the home of over 6 and a half million people. It gets thrice a week intercity train services from Amtrak using the Sunset Limited. But it gets daily services from Amtrak using the Texas Eagle AND a thruway bus ride that's over 4 hours in length.

More people ride the Amtrak provided bus service from Houston than an Amtrak train.

Which is a poor state of affairs considering Houston is probably the only large city in the USA to include a train in its official shield.
And people living elsewhere in the country wonder why so many representatives from Houston area are anti-Amtrak?
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Red Wing » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:58 am

Electricron, you have a point, in most places I would agree with you except for San Fransisco. You have to get across the bay some how and bus is the best way.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Tadman » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:32 am

I disagree. Amtrak is in the "moving people business". Providing a network of support services, I.E. checked baggage, heated stations, and connecting busses is part of making it a useful service.

Contrast that will the erstwhile Georgia Railroad which was in the "running trains" business. It was required by charter to run a passenger trains. And they did. From the center of a freight yard in Savannah to the center of a freight yard on the outskirts of Atlanta. No heat or HEP. Sometimes lights. But they were in the business of running trains.

Clearly just running trains is no way to get passengers.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby electricron » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:48 am

Red Wing wrote:Electricron, you have a point, in most places I would agree with you except for San Fransisco. You have to get across the bay some how and bus is the best way.

Again I disagree! San Francisco should have a tunnel built just as much as New York City deserves a brand new tunnel. The most valid argument that New York is in the middle of the NEC is why it deserves a new tunnel first and foremost rings slightly untrue. Did the Pennsylvania RR run trains to Boston? Did the New Haven and Hartford RR run trains to Philadelphia? If a bus services is good enough for the last mile into San Francisco, why not also for the last mile into New York City?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of Amtrak providing train services. But I also believe Amtrak concentrates too much on improving train services to New York City than it does improving train services to the rest of the country. I realize Amtrak owns the rail corridor into New York City explains much of this distortion in its efforts, but it needs to decide what it should be most, a national railroad or a just a railroad to New York City?
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Red Wing » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:55 am

NH and the PRR had run through trains so you could go from Boston to Philadelphia with no transfer.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby Mackensen » Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:15 pm

electricron wrote:
Red Wing wrote:Electricron, you have a point, in most places I would agree with you except for San Fransisco. You have to get across the bay some how and bus is the best way.

Again I disagree! San Francisco should have a tunnel built just as much as New York City deserves a brand new tunnel. The most valid argument that New York is in the middle of the NEC is why it deserves a new tunnel first and foremost rings slightly untrue. Did the Pennsylvania RR run trains to Boston? Did the New Haven and Hartford RR run trains to Philadelphia? If a bus services is good enough for the last mile into San Francisco, why not also for the last mile into New York City?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of Amtrak providing train services. But I also believe Amtrak concentrates too much on improving train services to New York City than it does improving train services to the rest of the country. I realize Amtrak owns the rail corridor into New York City explains much of this distortion in its efforts, but it needs to decide what it should be most, a national railroad or a just a railroad to New York City?


Credit where it's due I suppose; I've never seen someone arguing that an unneeded tunnel under San Francisco Bay should take priority over the busiest tunnels in the country.
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Re: Thruway bus - yea or nay?

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:35 pm

A tunnel seems overkill. Gotta admit though, can you imagine the view from a Sightseer Lounge as you crossed the Bay Bridge like the old Key System cars?

Until Amtrak adopts DMUs again and PTC allows for 90 mph on standard freight lines, Thruway takes advantage of America’s huge and (usually) well-maintained road network. Sometimes it even builds interest for train service, like the Downeaster and Virginia Service.
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