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Old 01-05-07, 12:02 PM   #1
magicant
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Pacific Surfliner

Planning a couple rides down to San Diego (from the SFV) and want to take the train back. Same day/next day - not sure yet.

Anyone have any special advice/warnings/experiences on that train? I'll probably take it all the way up to Van Nuys. Pretty bike-friendly from what I've heard? Do you have to get there well in advance to get a ticket/seat or can you jump on a few minutes before it takes off? Can you take bikes on/off at any station or only the major luggage loading stops? Any past problems or things I need to know?

Thanks for any input!

And NO, I am not planning to hop on the train tomorrow...
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Old 01-05-07, 12:19 PM   #2
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I've had two train experiences (with bikes), one good and one not-so-good. The bad one was this summer, coming back from Solana Beach. There were mechanical problems, so they were one train behind. We waited about 1.5 hours for a train. Also complicating things was the Del Mar Fair and horseraces right during that time, so the trains were unusually crowded.

The good experience was during last month's Burrito Century. We rolled into San Diego 20 minutes before the next train left. We were ticketed and wisked on the train almost immediately. We even were offered a group rate since we had more than 10 riders. Luckily the downtown SD station is one stop past the Old Town station, so the drunk football goons (there was a Chargers game that day) got on after us. So we had plenty of seats.

Overall, I think Amtrak is great for local travel. Of course, by virtue of it being mass transit, it's not perfect. If I had surgery, or some other important event planned for later the same day, I wouldn't bank on the train being on time. That said, I find it a cheap and fun way to go! But if you have time constraints, be cautious, and leave plenty of time.

There are issues sometimes with bikes -- they claim a pretty low number as the maximum allowed on each car, but they have always been accomodating, and we've put more bikes on a car than the stated "maximum."

You can take bikes on and off at any stop, far as I know.

If you have other questions, feel free to PM me. I can go on and on....
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Old 01-05-07, 12:21 PM   #3
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I am kinda lazy at the moment, but is the Surfliner the one that ends in San Luis Obispo? If so, you wheel your bike on and hang it right in the car. You can exit any stop because they do not have to retrieve it from the luggage area. Also, you can board any time you want and buy a ticket on board.

The other Pacific train (the one that goes all the way to Washington) packs the bicycles as luggage.
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Old 01-05-07, 12:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mateo44
drunk football goons (there was a Chargers game that day) got on after us.
Those were the Bronco fans. The Charger fans were the sober, polite, well dressed and good looking fans.
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Old 01-05-07, 12:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mateo44
I've had two train experiences (with bikes), one good and one not-so-good. The bad one was this summer, coming back from Solana Beach. There were mechanical problems, so they were one train behind. We waited about 1.5 hours for a train. Also complicating things was the Del Mar Fair and horseraces right during that time, so the trains were unusually crowded...
Wasn't it more like 3 hours???
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Old 01-05-07, 12:34 PM   #6
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Yeah, you're probably right. I was in a daze from finishing what was my longest ride to date. It was a long delay, for sure.
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Old 01-05-07, 12:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grumpy Pig
Those were the Bronco fans. The Charger fans were the sober, polite, well dressed and good looking fans.
I'm just glad it wasn't a Raiders game.
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Old 01-05-07, 12:36 PM   #8
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Except for that Solana Beach fiasco we experienced, I've had no trouble with bikes on Amtrak. A couple years ago I took my tour bike on board the Surfliner from LA Union station to Pismo Beach and rode back to LA with a couple other cycle tourists.
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Old 01-05-07, 03:11 PM   #9
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I have never had a problem with the exception of timing and either I was late, or the train was. But that has never been a problem. Just do not lay down on the train platform (waiting area) because officially you are a vagrant and you 'cannot lay down here'... I was laying down next to a $3000.00 bike, but they didn't care about that...
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Old 01-05-07, 03:45 PM   #10
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I'll be giving it a shot going from Moorpark to Fullerton this Sunday night. My first trip on a real (not at Disneyland) train.

Someone sent me this link. I'm hoping my train is stocked up!
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Old 01-05-07, 07:24 PM   #11
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I regularly commute on the Surfliner. The cars can hold 3 bikes each, but if there's no room you can toss it in the baggage car, usually.
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Old 01-05-07, 07:28 PM   #12
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Thanks all -- sounds good. But "bring a book" and "stay away from football Sundays" might be a good thing?

Appreciate the input!
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