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(   No wonder Amtrak's going bankrupt: the fares are too cheap   ( ) divider line
    More: Obvious  
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8363 clicks; posted to Main » on 16 Apr 2002 at 2:35 PM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

63 Comments     (+0 »)

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2002-04-16 02:38:12 PM  
5 bucks seems like a good deal.

even though you'll probably never make it after being derailed.
2002-04-16 02:39:58 PM  
Ride the Rail!
[image from too old to be available]
2002-04-16 02:41:19 PM  
hmm... I wonder if now is a good time to do that cross-country train trip I've been planning?
2002-04-16 02:42:42 PM  
$5.60 from Chicago to Detroit? Jeez, it costs more than that to take the South Shore from South Bend to Chicago (about 90 miles).

I can't imagine taking Amtrak across country, even if it does only cost $45.
2002-04-16 02:43:03 PM  
To go from Grand Rapids(my home town) to St. Louis it costs $10.20. That's WAY cheaper than gas!

Something has to be wrong with their page.
2002-04-16 02:43:42 PM  
Amtrak is in a bad way, it needs subsidy. I swear, if we funded Amtrak to the same % of budget that, say, France does, we could take a 200mph train from New York to LA.
2002-04-16 02:44:52 PM  
You'd think that after crushing international socialism and putting the lie to centrally-planned and parastatal economies around the globe, the US would get rid of its own economic white elephant and dissolve Amtrak.
2002-04-16 02:46:07 PM  
I never pay for my Amtrak tickets. Things always suck so badly they always agree to give me some sort of compensation (read : another free crappy ride).

And those prices would be right in line with the kind of service they provide.
2002-04-16 02:46:53 PM  
or...Maybe the fares are too cheap because they're going bankrupt.
2002-04-16 02:47:44 PM  
This seems like incentive for out-of-towners to come to the Chicago Fark Party on May 10-11!
2002-04-16 02:48:18 PM  
Pushing will protect you!
2002-04-16 02:49:47 PM  
Bah, the only deal for me is $50 each way to Chicago.
2002-04-16 02:52:02 PM  
I love riding Amtrak. Service sucks, compared to what ? Try riding Greyhound buses. rode them in college cause they were CHEAP FARES, which it seems like all the crazy people in the US know as well. Will never ride Greyhound again. Amtrak a fun way to see the US. Too bad they took away my Boston - to Las Vegas route. That's a fun vacation .
2002-04-16 02:52:13 PM  
Last time I priced an Amtrak ticket from Dallas to Washington, D.C. a few years ago, it was actually a little bit more expensive than a plane ticket from DFW to National. Plus it would have taken something like 3 days rather than 4.5 hours.

I did ride Amtrak from D.C. to Philadelphia once, though. We didn't even crash! I rock!
2002-04-16 02:54:30 PM  
Hey as a constant commuter between Chicago and Detroit in a long distance relationship I live for those fares. Be aware though there only a few offered for each train. They sell out fast on the weekend trains. Beet the 4 hour drive when you can sit on the train and get plastered and then sober up enough to make the drive home from the train station.

You are right Bluekamikaze as if the train is late and you call and complain they will send you vouchers for another free trip. I took advantage of this many time but had to talk my girlfriend into doing as she felt like she was ripping off amtrak
2002-04-16 02:59:59 PM  
No wonder Amtrak is in trouble; the company has never really had a business model that didn't rely on continuing subsidies from an unreliable congress.
2002-04-16 03:07:18 PM  
Amtrak is going bankrupt because they are mismanaged, not because of their cheap fares. As Methodista pointed out, it's actually cheaper to fly. I can get a roundtrip ticket from NYC to Washington for $110; it costs $180 on the train.

That being said, as far as these sale fares are concerned, I really don't have an interest in going from NYC to Toledo...but thanks for asking!
2002-04-16 03:11:55 PM  
Damn. I'm taking my 4 1/2 year-old son on Amtrak from Milwaukee to St. Paul in May (he loves trains, and this will be our first long train trip), but no such cheapie fares are available. Gonna cost about $300 round-trip for the 2 of us. Could practically fly there for the same fare.

Amtrak ridership is WAY down. Routes are being slashed everywhere. Yet they demand subsidies to stay in business. People fly or drive, they no longer ride the rails in the numbers needed for them to be profitable. I expect the rails to be 90% freight traffic within 10 years.

And try to find a steam train excursion... They'll be extinct within 10 years as well... Sigh...

[image from too old to be available]

The "Big Boy" was the largest steam train ever built. The engine alone was 130+ ft long and weighed over 600 tons. There's one on display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay. A truly awesome machine...

Shiat do I feel like an old-timer...
2002-04-16 03:14:38 PM  
As Methodista pointed out, it's actually cheaper to fly.

Not always. I was recently trying to book a round trip from Cleveland to New York in July, and Amtrak was several hundred dollars cheaper than any of the flights I found.

I ended up not choosing Amtrak anyway, though, because the only time that route was available both left and returned around 4:00 AM.
2002-04-16 03:16:49 PM  
"there's something about the train..."
2002-04-16 03:16:50 PM  
What's weird is that the only profitable part of Amtrak's service is in the northeast.. and the NE'ers have to pay a premium to subsidize the rest of the crappy tracks (not that I'm complaining,... don't even use the train) Just pointing out that on the whole Amtrak is mismanaged and unable to make money, except for this one small section that they fleece...

2002-04-16 03:25:07 PM  
Amtrak doesn't own a lot of the tracks it uses inthe midwest. They are leased out to them and have to stop on the single tracks to wait for the trains to come through that are owned by the same people who own the track (over an hour sometimes--hence the free tickets when you call and say you were inconvienced by this last trip on amtrak.

I could never do the long ditance trips but have meet some, in dire need of a shower, and they enjoyed the trip.
2002-04-16 03:27:56 PM  
HamStack is going broke because it's a pork-infested featherbedding program with huge labor costs due to stupid concessions to unions forced on it by Congress, and routes based more on who's running the Transportation Committee this week than any actual demand. That and the fact that people don't want to travel on it at any price because the experience makes the Bataan death march look like fun.
2002-04-16 03:34:34 PM  
I cna go to Toledo for $45 bucks!!! Sweet!! Wait a minute, there's nothing to do in Toledo. Oh well.

I took Amtrak to get home for spring break from Erie, PA. Would've cost me about $120 because I didn't buy the ticket in advance. I had to buy it on the train, since they don't sell tickets at the Erie station. Told the conductor when I got on I had to buy it, he said they'd take care of it in Buffalo. Never had to buy the ticket. Saved me 120 bucks, which I need more than Amtrak. To get home for beak, it cost me about $10 (gas and coffee for my ride).
2002-04-16 03:37:09 PM  
Overpaid Slacker: Dissolution of Amtrak is coming. Just wait...

Jjorsett fark! You don't have a strong opinion of Amtrak, do you?? ;-) Seriously, though, you're right in all of your points. Amtrak pulled its service here in 1982 and we haven't missed it.
2002-04-16 03:44:00 PM  
Same with the Postal Service. Does it make sense to charge only 34 cents to send a letter clear across the country? If the mail was turned over to the private companies (UPS, Fedex), then rates would be charged according to market forces (the true barometer of price), rather than by a bureaucrat.
2002-04-16 03:44:53 PM  

If you're ever out on the West Coast by Santa Cruz, check out the train ride through the redwoods at Roaring Camp. It's amazing!

[image from too old to be available]
2002-04-16 03:47:41 PM  
9/10 Yep. Amtrak is one of those governmental boondoggles that really pushes my buttons. Keeping these money-hemorrhaging "businesses" on life support is a criminal waste.
2002-04-16 03:49:52 PM  
sorry hoohoodilly, those pics were too big. they had to go.
2002-04-16 03:50:00 PM  
France surrenders?

The French company that manages the Paris metro is rumored to be in contention to buy up some of Amtrak's routes. So does the U.S. Surrender in this case?
2002-04-16 03:50:30 PM  
Amtrak makes up for these cheap fares by gouging us in the Northeast. It is cheaper to fly from NYC to Boston than take Amtrak.
2002-04-16 03:54:27 PM  
I pray that Amtrak won't get dissolved. I'm planning a trip from Newark to St. Louis this summer. I'm 16 and it will be my first long train trip. I want to do that at least once before I die.
2002-04-16 03:55:08 PM  
Gwinny: Sigh. Not unlike the Big Boy itself.

Big Boy photo gallery
2002-04-16 03:55:35 PM  
Whilst stationed in Germany I took a train to Munich. Well, I was supposed to go to Munich but I got staving drunk in the bar car with a bunch of Englishmen and wound up in Berlin. Man, that was a blast!
2002-04-16 03:55:51 PM  
I think the US government should just temporarily shut Amtrak down and, if possible, convert the existing rail beds and tracks to accomodate bullet trains. Sure it'd be expensive, but since they've already got the money earmarked for Amtrak, why not build something that will be extremely useful in the years to come rather than keeping something around that is unfortunately way past its prime and efficacy.
2002-04-16 03:56:43 PM  
Geez, EQAddict!

You've got your whole life ahead of you. Don't be so depressed. If you can't take long distance train rides in the U.S., there's always the granddaddy of them all: Trans-Siberian railroad. Set your sights high, bro!

Or the Orient Express. OR the Copper Canyon railway which is truly, truly awesome experience. Imagine a train ride through a canyon twice as deep as the grand canyon. And cheap, too!
HPZ [TotalFark]
2002-04-16 03:56:46 PM  
Are you people crazy? Underpriced? Have you seen the trains in the 300 line? Cattle have it beter on the way to the slaughterhouse. At least they get to stand in *fresh* feces.
2002-04-16 04:06:47 PM  
I dunno, thats about as much as I'd pay to see poor people's backyards.
2002-04-16 04:08:00 PM  
Hoohoodilly: LOL! sorry about that, pal...
2002-04-16 04:12:46 PM  
04-16-02 03:14:38 PM Quarlie
As Methodista pointed out, it's actually cheaper to fly.

Not always. I was recently trying to book a round trip from Cleveland to New York in July, and Amtrak was several hundred dollars cheaper than any of the flights I found.

I ended up not choosing Amtrak anyway, though, because the only time that route was available both left and returned around 4:00 AM.

Ummm. yeah. it was cheaper because it was at 4 AM.
2002-04-16 04:14:14 PM  
It'd be $1,000 for my family of four to go round trip from Austin, Tx to Pittsburgh where we are attending a wedding this summer. That's purchasing four months in advance.

We'll probably drive instead. Oh well. According to the car commercials I'm a real man only if I drive.
2002-04-16 04:15:46 PM  
Low prices does not necessarily lead to low profits. If people are going to buy more when prices go down, profits can increase. Them going bankrupt wouldn't affect the optimal price, either, they'd still aim to maximize profit. Besides, they can't go bankrupt unless the government does.

Jjorset: By the same criteria, interstates are a government boondogle. All they do is drain the budget! Evil government!

I don't think theres a single passenger rail line that *isn't* financed by government.
2002-04-16 04:17:15 PM  
Sorry folks, I like Amtrak and HATE airplanes. Have taken the train from Iowa to Sacramento MANY times - of course I always get the deluxe room, got my own shower, double bed, comfy chair (thanks Python) and stuff? It's been late arriving a lot and I didn't care. More time to drink wine! PLUS - making love on the train in the wee dark hours is an experience not to be missed.
Fark the airplanes - they've turned into the Greyhound buses of the skies. If I am gonna get bad service, I'll take it on the ground - or something like that.
2002-04-16 04:20:45 PM  
Another one of the few profitable routes for Amtrak is the Milwaukee-Chicago route (the "Hiawatha", I think they call it). There's been an ongoing debate over funding to improve the service to high-speed rail. There seems to be sufficient demand for it, but the funding has been argued over for almost a decade now...

I had a steam train ride from hell last summer. Took the "Chocolate Express", a scheduled two-hour ride from Burlington, Wisconsin ("Chocolate City USA", home to ChocolateFEST) to Waukesha (near Milwaukee).

It was a hot day, and we were in a non-air-conditioned car. We got stalled due to a locked grease trap, and were stuck on a 100-degree car. Kids ran around in diapers. There was open talk of revolt, but cooler heads prevailed. The trip ended up being five hours long...

My son loved every minute of it...
2002-04-16 04:25:32 PM  
Amtrak is failing because it can't give tickets away. Actually though, those prices are pretty damn low. When I checked a few years ago, train tickets were more expensive than plane rides, and of course they take forever.

Our trains are actually slower than they were a hundred years ago, simply because the infrastructure and technology is the same and it's just degraded over time so much. If we had a decent rail system, I would ride it. But it's really something you have to subsidize.

Oh and the jerkoffs who joke about Amtrak being so unsafe obviously don't use cars right? Afterall, they're sooo much safer than trains. LOL.
2002-04-16 04:36:47 PM  
Hey, I checked and if I want accomodations on the train it doubles the price and then some. So we're talking $2,400 to go see my niece walk down the isle.

For comparison I went to ORBITZ and checked cheapest air fare with one stop. $1200 for all of us to go. If I want to fly on American or something it went as high as $7,000.

So, Amtrak is at least in the running :-)

Or instead, for a couple $hundred in gas we can drive the van and have it with us...
2002-04-16 04:43:13 PM  
This is great news for all those lonley pedophiles that are trying to get their 13-year-old chat friends to visit them across the country. Hell of a lot cheaper than a plane ticket.

They should call this their "Run Away From Home" plan.
2002-04-16 04:58:31 PM  
Public transportation in America sucks.
2002-04-16 05:00:26 PM  

The Big Boy was great, it was huge indeed, but if you want to talk about the heaviest steam engine, it's the C&O Allegheny. Look it up, it was a monster, I'll tell ya what. check out, I'd link it but I don't know the html whatnot. Now, the best steam locomotive ever, in my opinion, was the Norfolk and Western A class, it was a big articulated like the Big Boy, but not as big as either it or the Allegheny. You're right too, big steam is an endangered species, but I think it'll be around for awhile.
2002-04-16 05:21:00 PM  
how about a pre-fark train party on the train from grand rapids to chicago for the may party?
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