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  1. #1
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    Question: Amtrak and bikes

    I recently had the bright idea to get some riding done in the Catskills and other places traveling via Amtrak. I read on the Amtrak website the drill begins with getting a box from Amtrak that the bike fits in...then, it seems off, you go. Has anyone traveled this way? can you give me some real world advice and/or anecdotes? This seems to be a great way to get around without driving!!!

    thanks

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    I met a guy on the street a few weeks back, and in the course of our conversation he mentioned that Amtrak had very recently discontinued taking bikes, because they're trying to eliminate baggage cars in order to save money. I don't have any experience, but it might not hurt to call Amtrak and make sure the info on their website is up-to-date...

    -chris

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    AMTRAK info........only trains which have baggage cars take BOXED bikes

    You have to call AMTRAK to determine which destinations are served with baggage cars. Not all do

    Info told me 10 June 04 they don't furnish bike boxes

  4. #4
    oh..so...crusty.. crustedfish's Avatar
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    Listen up everyone..here's the deal....

    Not all Amtrak trains accept baggage. Therefore, not all Amtrak trains accept bike boxes.

    The boxes Amtrak provides (provided they provide you with one!) are HUGE! all you have to do is remove the pedals, tape them to the frame, loosen the stem, angle the handlebars down and parallel with the frame, and push the entire thing straight into the box...bring a sharpie and packing tape...they MAY not have tape, but everywhere I've been (Chicago Union Station, and Milkwaukee, and Cleveland, Ohio) they furnish you with boxes and with tape.

    Be sure to arrive a few minutes early.

    Usually they charge $5-$10 for the box, and $5-$10 for the bike box transport fee...or, it takes $20 max to get your bike anywhere you go on Amtrak.

    I've had GREAT success with bikes and Amtrak. Seriously.

    Be sure to arrive earlier, to account for packing time, baggage check in, yada yada yada....

    Now, when you make your reservation, you will need to make sure that the train accepts baggage (and therefore, bikes), and provides bike boxes. Where will you be traveling out of? Most big cities should have bike boxes.

    Oh, and one last thing....only some stations provide baggage check service...many "in the middle" stops aren't large enough..as long as you are at the major train stations, you should be fine...

  5. #5
    Senior Member SanDiegoSteve's Avatar
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    Check their web site. I've seen a lot of bikes on the Surfliner (San Diego <-> LA) that are commuters sans box.

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    oh..so...crusty.. crustedfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanDiegoSteve
    Check their web site. I've seen a lot of bikes on the Surfliner (San Diego <-> LA) that are commuters sans box.
    Only certain lines are designated "commuter" lines...there are some bikes allowed on the east coast commuter lines that runs along the eastern seaboard..as in, DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, blah blah..

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanDiegoSteve
    Check their web site. I've seen a lot of bikes on the Surfliner (San Diego <-> LA) that are commuters sans box.
    Are you able to ride with your bike in the same railcar? I noticed on their website that some cars are coach/baggage. I don't like the idea of boxing the bike as it will be loaded with panniers. I'd like to be able to get off the train with my bike and immediately hit the road. I will try to get more info on the Surfliner in the Touring section. Thanks.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Djudd
    I recently had the bright idea to get some riding done in the Catskills and other places traveling via Amtrak. I read on the Amtrak website the drill begins with getting a box from Amtrak that the bike fits in...then, it seems off, you go. Has anyone traveled this way? can you give me some real world advice and/or anecdotes? This seems to be a great way to get around without driving!!!

    thanks
    I think it's a great idea but you have the wrong bike!!! I boarded with my bike inside the cabin. I had no box and didn't need one. What did I say to change Amtrak's mind?

    Answer: I used a folding bike with a bag.

    I use bicycles all the time traveling to great distances. I use full size bikes on the New York MTA or Long Island Railroad all the time. With Amtrak, I only use a folding bike because I'm not going to take the chance if the arriving train has a bike box or a baggage car. Should the train not have a bagage car, what are you going to do? Take a bus?

    I think Amtrak is too restrictive when it comes to bicycles but it's their call.
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 06-10-04 at 09:24 PM.

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    An alternative to Amtrak in the NYC area and north toward the Catskills is Metro-North. Check out their bike rules.

    http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mnr/html/getaways/bikerule.htm

    The Hudson Line runs along the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie, and the Harlem Line runs north pretty much along Rt 22 to Wassaic. Nice areas to ride.

    Check this link for their coverage.
    http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mnr/html/mnrmap.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyk
    An alternative to Amtrak in the NYC area and north toward the Catskills is Metro-North. Check out their bike rules.

    http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mnr/html/getaways/bikerule.htm

    The Hudson Line runs along the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie, and the Harlem Line runs north pretty much along Rt 22 to Wassaic. Nice areas to ride.

    Check this link for their coverage.
    http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mnr/html/mnrmap.htm
    Good one.... I'm going to ride MetroNorth this summer by folding bike to see what the situation is for regular bikes. The MTA is real good with bikes providing it's not rush hour. On weekends, the Long Island Railroad has a spot to place your bicycle and all you need to have is a bungy cord.

    You also need to have a "bike pass" that I think costs about $5.00 dollars and you can buy this at Grand Central in 42nd street.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    Good one.... I'm going to ride MetroNorth this summer by folding bike to see what the situation is for regular bikes. The MTA is real good with bikes providing it's not rush hour. On weekends, the Long Island Railroad has a spot to place your bicycle and all you need to have is a bungy cord.

    You also need to have a "bike pass" that I think costs about $5.00 dollars and you can buy this at Grand Central in 42nd street.

    In my experience, the Metro North situation is very much like the LIRR situation - they even accept that same $5 lifetime pass

    -chris

  12. #12
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    I've been on an Amtrak, San Diego Coaster, and Metrolink, all out of out of Oceanside, California (north San Diego County). Amtrak runs up and down the west coast from San Diego to Seattle. The Amtrak train I rode allowed me to carry my bike onto the same railcar. Bikes were hung vertically on racks. I'm not positive if bikes can be brought on all Amtrak trains since the one I rode was techinically a commuter train that stopped about every 20 miles it's way north to Santa Barbara.

    The Coaster travels south from Oceanside to San Diego and the Metrolink travels north from Oceanside to Los Angeles. Both are commuter trains which have straps for two bikes in each railcar.

    I see regulars commuters on these trains all the time. Also, a couple months ago, the train newletter had an article about a Santa Barbara bike trip that encouraged cyclists to travel by train.

    -Shimpie

  13. #13
    Senior Member Pessi's Avatar
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    American and Canadien trains are terrible. SNCF in France does much better shipping bikes, as do all European countries. Even trains in Marac do better.
    Je suis une ogre

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pessi
    American and Canadien trains are terrible. SNCF in France does much better shipping bikes, as do all European countries. Even trains in Marac do better.
    You make a good point. BUT. American and Canadien trains are not terrible if you have a folding bike.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pessi
    American and Canadien trains are terrible. SNCF in France does much better shipping bikes, as do all European countries. Even trains in Marac do better.
    Pessi; sorry I don't mean any disrespect because I know you been around; but I have taken the train from Santa Barbara California to San Francisco several times for races as well as to ride from SF to SB back in the mid 70's to mid 80's; and back then the train people did very well at handling bikes (can't speak for the last 20 years though). My bike, as well as those of others, were treated with the upmost care, so much so that the first time I did this trip I was extremily worried about it getting damaged, but once I saw how they handled them and how they arrived and was handled again, all future worries went completly away. My bike never arrived at a location with even a scratch. If I had done that once then you could argue luck but I did this about 6 times. Now if you had said airplanes then I would have agreed with you; the airlines hire huge guerrillas on crack that have contest to see who can throw luggage the furthest.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Pessi's Avatar
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    Folding bike was a joke made by the English.
    Je suis une ogre

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