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  1. #1
    mcccxxv
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    Bicycles aboard the Vermonter

    Do you know what Amtrak plans are to allow bicycles again on the Vermonter?

    I understand this service was discontinued a few years back. Surely, though, with the rise of cycling use in response to gas prices, Amtrak will be taking a stand to do its part in helping alternative transportation options.

    The summer season is a great opportunity for people to take their bike aboard the train, traveling north or south on the train.

    Amtrak already has experience allowing bikes on other lines within its service. I hope there is consideration in place for a densely populated area such as the NE.

    Does anyone know?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Not the Slowest's Avatar
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    Long Died and most likely will not happen again.

    I did some homework last spring '07 trying to find what trains do allow bikes on board.
    They would be checked as luggage and have to be boxed.
    I forget which trains still aloow bikes, but they were pretty helpful, choices were very slim.

    In anycase use Greyhound or similar.
    Buses are cheaper, Faster and not as bad as you may think.

    Oh yeah, if you do get your bike on an Amtrak Train, it is considored cargo and may NOT get there when you do.

    Good luck, go Greyhound, peter Pan etc.

    Robert
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  3. #3
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    I used to commute regularly by Amtrak between Hartford and New Haven, which sometimes had me on the Vermonter. What NtS says is spot-on - they really don't make it easy. I used a Dahon full-sized folding bike, which they allowed grudgingly, but anything bigger has to be in a box. On top of that, Amtrak costs a bloody fortune. If you're trying to get all the way to Vermont, it's bus or bust. If you want to go somewhere in Connecticut, check out Metro-North.

  4. #4
    mcccxxv
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    That is disappointing that the service seems unlikely.

    I did find a document online that lists the trains that carry bicycles: mostly on the west coast.

    They are: Cascades, Piedmont, Downeasters, Heartland Flyer, Capitols, San Joaquins, and most Surfliner cars.

    The document is at http://www.cyclotour.com/amtrak.htm.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcccxxv View Post
    That is disappointing that the service seems unlikely.

    I did find a document online that lists the trains that carry bicycles: mostly on the west coast.

    They are: Cascades, Piedmont, Downeasters, Heartland Flyer, Capitols, San Joaquins, and most Surfliner cars.

    The document is at http://www.cyclotour.com/amtrak.htm.
    The Northeast Regional and the Lakeshore Limited will also allow you to box a bike and check it into the baggage car. In the case of the Northeast Regional, the bike will travel on the midnight car, and will thus be ready for pick up on the next day. This, of course, means that you can also opt to ride the Acela and have your bike travel on the slower Northeast Regional so long as you're willing to wait until the next day for pickup.

    On the Lakeshore Limited, the bike travels with you.

  6. #6
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Amtrak gives the impression that their bike rules are fairly relaxed on the Downeaster.

    See Bring Your Bicycle Onboard

  7. #7
    mcccxxv
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    That is true. I believe they have regular bike racks (six) to strap the bike on. That is very convenient. I lived in Seattle and used to take my bike to Vancouver and Portland the same way---very easy.

    I wish they have the same on all lines. I find it puzzling that a huge train, with many cars, cannot afford space for a 20lb bicycle! Even more puzzling, why are people not screaming about it.

    If anyone knows of an advocacy group working to get Amtrak to carry bikes, let me know (or hey, may be I should start!).

  8. #8
    Air
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    Problem is Amtrak has teetered on bankruptcy for a while and the gov't for the most part does not want to fund rail transportation. I suppose that makes sense since Amtrak is in part a gov't agency whereas the airlines are private and have large lobbies and don't need an alternate form of transportation. Someone has a long way to go to tell them adding a baggage car for bikes (or redesigning a few cars to eliminate seats) will pay for itself plus a profit.

  9. #9
    mcccxxv
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    Only these days it does feel that the airlines are least profitable.

    MetroNorth allows bikes on all its trains with no special car for them, or special rack. You can just tuck it in between the seats (based on availability).

    Commuter rail and subway in Boston does the same.

    Amtrak cars are surely more spacious than these commuter trains, and most of the time less occupied.

  10. #10
    Air
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    Yes - but also more expensive and more comfortable while being geared towards a business class. People aren't completely casualed out on Amtrak - I don't see ripped t-shirts or wifebeaters that I occasionally do see on MetroNorth/LIRR plus it's all carpeted which means grease stains. I felt out of place in shorts when I rode up to Providence a few months ago - there really wouldn't have been room for a full size bike without impeding on those sitting in the front.

    I'd LOVE them to take bikes, it's idiotic that they don't. But until the gov't starts thinking differently about transportation and starts funding rail options you won't see bikes on there. If you want change start by writing your legislature to fund rail.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air View Post
    Yes - but also more expensive and more comfortable while being geared towards a business class. People aren't completely casualed out on Amtrak - I don't see ripped t-shirts or wifebeaters that I occasionally do see on MetroNorth/LIRR plus it's all carpeted which means grease stains. I felt out of place in shorts when I rode up to Providence a few months ago - there really wouldn't have been room for a full size bike without impeding on those sitting in the front.
    just to back this up ... I used to be a fairly frequent passenger on the Acela and Northeast Regional when I worked for a Boston company that had New York and DC clients. The rush hour Amtrak trains are always packed and it would be impossible to fit a bike on there. I suspect that you'll have space to store a bike during a weekday, non rush hour ride, but I don't think that helps folks who'd like to use the train as an opportunity to take their bikes along on a vacation or weekend getaway.

    MBTA commuter rail support for additional bikes only came about after sustained advocacy and support from officials like Menino. I'd like to think that Amtrak is watching the commuter rail bike car program closely and might see that as a barometer of demand for similar services. We shall see.

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