Amtrak Fare and Availability Discussion Thread

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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deathtopumpkins
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by deathtopumpkins » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:36 am

And NYC to Boston now starts at $52 instead of $49.

Great.
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theozno
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by theozno » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:42 am

I think we are about to see the day Amtrak runs with a positive revenue base with no subsidy on the NEC especially if they are blocking fare codes 1&2 during the days most travel and raising the fare. Someone correct me if I am wrong, Vermonter in Connecticut thru Vermont are subsidized so that might be why they could not touch the fare. It is still $6 New Haven to Meriden most trains. A 10 trip costs $72 figure that one out... with 3 day AAA or Railway it would be $52 for 10 trips... weird indeed. I do miss the $17 before 25% discount NHV-SPG fare now its $22. Why is Amtrak advertising the $19 far in New Haven??? There is no such fare any more its $17 with 14 day and $22 respectively.
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Arlington
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by Arlington » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:26 am

Note that October is a *very*busy travel season for Boston & New England between the perfect weather, the fall foliage, and lots of reasons to visit to or from a college (regattas, parents' weekends, homecoming weekends), such as:

Last Week: Vermont Foliage, Yale Parent's Weekend, Boston Half Marathon, Columbus Day,

This Week: Exurb Foliage, "Parent's Weekends" (eg Tufts, BU, and the biggie: Head of the Charles Regatta (which draws 11,000 competitors and 400,000 spectators, many of which are college kids from "preppy rowing" places down the NEC), and Boston College Homecoming.

Next Week: City Foliage & More Parents' Weekends (e.g. Northeastern).

Not that any one parents' weekend is going to sell out a train, but this is high season up and down the NEC for all kinds of "we'll visit now that you're settled in" for all the school & post-school "moves" that happened for the young, urban, and car-free around Labor Day.

But if Amtrak has hiked fares, I consider it a good thing, since it indicates that they're confident in strong demand for trains despite fierce bus competition and falling gas prices. Its good for the railroad.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Suburban Station
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by Suburban Station » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:57 am

my biggest complaint on the nec is the two week advance purchase nonsense. they don't size trains to meet demand so there is zero advantage to knowing in advance what you're ridership will be. people in the northeast often make travel plans at the last minute because these places are so close together. amtrak ends up overpricing empty trains because they can no longer offer the cheap bucket because it's only a few days in advance (or the day before) which compresses the variance between top and bottom fare and reduces their load factor

Arlington
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by Arlington » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:08 am

Suburban Station wrote:my biggest complaint on the nec is the two week advance purchase nonsense. they don't size trains to meet demand so there is zero advantage to knowing in advance what you're ridership will be.
The 2-week advance bucket is purely for purposes of sorting "business" from "leisure" (not capacity planning). They can't ask "is this a personal trip?", but they can ask "are you willing to buy 2 weeks in advance? (or a non-refundable ticket)"

Business travelers effectively "out" themselves by being unwilling or unable to buy in advance and needing to buy refundable/changeable tickets, while personal trips and "conventioneers" and other lower-value trips usually can buy two weeks out). It is near-pure "price discrimination" (a good thing for both the railroad and all their customer groups). Charge more to the people who assign a higher value to their trip, and let people who are cheap "work for it" and "show how serious they are about needing low prices" by jumping fairly arbitrary hurdles.

If they didn't make it hard to get the low fares, everybody would crowd into the low-fare buckets and ruin everything.

At the same time, I have found Amtrak doing pretty decent intra-day price tweaks on NYP-BOS trips, where for a last-minute purchase, a not-sold-out early-afternoon Acela was underpricing an NER at a slightly "better" (end of business day) time, so I happily took the Acela and filled that seat at a decent fare ($110 o/w?) at the last minute.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Suburban Station
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by Suburban Station » Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:32 pm

Arlington wrote:
Suburban Station wrote:my biggest complaint on the nec is the two week advance purchase nonsense. they don't size trains to meet demand so there is zero advantage to knowing in advance what you're ridership will be.
The 2-week advance bucket is purely for purposes of sorting "business" from "leisure" (not capacity planning). They can't ask "is this a personal trip?", but they can ask "are you willing to buy 2 weeks in advance? (or a non-refundable ticket)"

Business travelers effectively "out" themselves by being unwilling or unable to buy in advance and needing to buy refundable/changeable tickets, while personal trips and "conventioneers" and other lower-value trips usually can buy two weeks out). It is near-pure "price discrimination" (a good thing for both the railroad and all their customer groups). Charge more to the people who assign a higher value to their trip, and let people who are cheap "work for it" and "show how serious they are about needing low prices" by jumping fairly arbitrary hurdles.

If they didn't make it hard to get the low fares, everybody would crowd into the low-fare buckets and ruin everything.

At the same time, I have found Amtrak doing pretty decent intra-day price tweaks on NYP-BOS trips, where for a last-minute purchase, a not-sold-out early-afternoon Acela was underpricing an NER at a slightly "better" (end of business day) time, so I happily took the Acela and filled that seat at a decent fare ($110 o/w?) at the last minute.
this is the exact opposite of how I travel. My business trips are planned well in advance but my ny trips are spur of the moment.
the two week advance notice does nothing more than suppress casual demand which is big for the regional...and for no good reason. I can often get a decent deal on a rush hour train two Weeks in advance but no such deal to be had if the train is empty. You're giving money away on empty seats and by discounting fares on seats where people's arrival times are not flexible

peconicstation
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by peconicstation » Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:33 am

Arlington wrote:Note that October is a *very*busy travel season for Boston & New England between the perfect weather, the fall foliage, and lots of reasons to visit to or from a college (regattas, parents' weekends, homecoming weekends), such as:Last Week: Vermont Foliage, Yale Parent's Weekend, Boston Half Marathon, Columbus Day,
This Week: Exurb Foliage, "Parent's Weekends" (eg Tufts, BU, and the biggie: Head of the Charles Regatta (which draws 11,000 competitors and 400,000 spectators, many of which are college kids from "preppy rowing" places down the NEC), and Boston College Homecoming.Next Week: City Foliage & More Parents' Weekends (e.g. Northeastern).
Not that any one parents' weekend is going to sell out a train, but this is high season up and down the NEC for all kinds of "we'll visit now that you're settled in" for all the school & post-school "moves" that happened for the young, urban, and car-free around Labor Day. But if Amtrak has hiked fares, I consider it a good thing, since it indicates that they're confident in strong demand for trains despite fierce bus competition and falling gas prices. Its good for the railroad.
Well said, you have all these legacy events in Boston, plus conventions, and general business created by a resurgent city with yearly populations gains.

We did a day trip yesterday to see a play (Boston also has an incredible theater scene), and I got a decent fare for the NLC to BBY round trip.
Alas train 150 was over 90 minutes late due to a debris strike just outside of D.C., not good for the day trippers of which we were far from the only ones.
There are plenty of routes where Amtrak is at other railroads mercy, but NEC delays drive me crazy, in particular with trains that do not require engine changes, and when there is
perfect weather.

Ken

Ken

JimBoylan
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by JimBoylan » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:40 am

There has been a fare hike in the last 2 weeks.
About Oct. 24, 2014, I checked prices from Philadelphia 30th St., Pa. to Winter Park, Fla. for Nov. 12, 2014. The Value Fare was $129. Orlando was $130 and Winter Haven was $131. From Trenton, N.J., each fare was $1 more. Fares were the same for May of 2015.
Today, Nov. 6, 2014, I made reservations and the fares for the above combinations from Philadelphia are all the same, $135 for both Nov. 12, 2014 and June 17, 2015; Trenton is $1 more. The Flexible Fares do vary slightly with the different stations, and have also increased.

JimBoylan
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Re: Fare Hike?

Post by JimBoylan » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:43 am

The Auto Train seat charge of $106 didn't change between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6, 2014

Jeff Smith
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Re: Fare Discussion (Forum Policy Change 1/3/2012)

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:09 pm

Quick question; is there a way to check or compare fares or availability over multiple days for a specific route? I.e. outside of the normal Amtrak.com reservation system? Or do you just have to, so to speak, "hunt and peck" it? I'm including all types of reservations, i.e. coach, business, Acela, sleeper, etc.
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prr60
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Re: Fare Discussion (Forum Policy Change 1/3/2012)

Post by prr60 » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:29 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:Quick question; is there a way to check or compare fares or availability over multiple days for a specific route? I.e. outside of the normal Amtrak.com reservation system? Or do you just have to, so to speak, "hunt and peck" it? I'm including all types of reservations, i.e. coach, business, Acela, sleeper, etc.
Yes. There is a site called Amsnag. It can pull up to 30 consecutive days of fares and accommodation charges for a specified city pair, and displays the results tabularly for comparison.

Amsnag

Jeff Smith
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Re: Amtrak Fare and Availability Discussion Thread

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 11, 2015 5:05 pm

Thanks!
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theseaandalifesaver
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Re: Amtrak Fare and Availability Discussion Thread

Post by theseaandalifesaver » Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:15 pm

Boston to New York prices are insane. It's literally cheaper to fly than it is to take the train.

leviramsey
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Re: Amtrak Fare and Availability Discussion Thread

Post by leviramsey » Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:58 pm

Isn't the general consensus that, at least for business travel, Acela is superior to flying?

Jeff Smith
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Re: Amtrak Fare and Availability Discussion Thread

Post by Jeff Smith » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:47 am

I'd certainly say so. It's why the NEC makes a profit. Now, imagine if they could actually make cost-effective (as opposed to NEC Future's billions) capacity and speed improvements. And they still have a lot of potential south of DC to Richmond, which is almost set for upgrade.
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