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  1. #1
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    Philadelphia & Amtrak

    Next month I am driving a car from Cleveland to Philly to be shipped overseas. I had thought great I will bring my bike then ride over and see Bilensky Cycle then ride to the Amtrak station and box my bike and take the train back to Cleveland.
    WRONG! There is absolutely no way to go from Philly to Cleveland and travel with ANY type of checked baggage! The trains go to DC and then to Cleveland. But none of the trains departing Philly have baggage service.
    So I wonder what do people do that live in Philly and want to travel??
    Very frustrating.

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    There is baggage service in Philadelphia just not with a good connection to Cleveland. Your luggage does not need to travel with you like on airlines. At the start of your trip you can check your luggage early so it will be waiting when you arrive and at the end of your trip you can come back to the station later to pick up your luggage.

    You can change trains in Pittsburgh but your luggage will have to go through New York or Washington.
    Last edited by Bezalel; 01-04-14 at 07:39 PM.

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    OK,that might work.Just have to make a second trip to the station in Cleveland. It is about 1 hour away.

  4. #4
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    In 2012 I flew into NYC for a vacation then was going to take Amtrak to Philly for a niece's wedding. Two nights before leaving for Philly I checked the train schedule and noticed that No checked bags were allowed except on a few trains after midnight. WTF? The wife and I had a couple of pieces of luggage each.

    I've been on Amtrak from St. Louis to KC and back a few times and even brought my bike twice. No problems with the bike or baggage.

    I had to rent a car in NYC and drive it to Philly. Not happy with Amtrak at all.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Amtrak's baggage policy makes sense only to Amtrak. The passenger's needs are not their concern. Not too surprising down here in podunk Texas, but in the northeast.....

    I understand there are only about 100 'baggage service' stops in the entire US.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Amtrak's baggage policy makes sense only to Amtrak. The passenger's needs are not their concern. Not too surprising down here in podunk Texas, but in the northeast.....
    No. It also makes sense to people who understand Amtrak's history, the dynamics of passenger rail service and the economics of passenger rail service, including the fact that the service is not funded to offer the sort of service you are suggesting. You are clearly not one of those people.

    Ridership in the northeast and other places continues to grow at a healthy pace. Popularity has motivated some states to eagerly step up to the plate with funding to maintain and even increase service levels. So Amtrak must be doing something right. Just because Amtrak cannot meet all the needs of a minute subset of potential travelers does not mean its passengers needs are not its concern.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
    I had thought great I will bring my bike then ride over and see Bilensky Cycle

    I'd drive. It's not in the nicest part of town and you would likely have to ride with a good amount of traffic in places to get there. Places where people tend to not respect people on bikes like you would like them to.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Just because Amtrak cannot meet all the needs of a minute subset of potential travelers does not mean its passengers needs are not its concern.
    Only a 'minute subset' need convenient baggage service? I think not. More to do with union rules than passenger convenience. I can't check baggage in Marshall, 30 miles away, but can in Longview, 50 miles away. Same train. Crazy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
    In 2012 I flew into NYC for a vacation then was going to take Amtrak to Philly for a niece's wedding. Two nights before leaving for Philly I checked the train schedule and noticed that No checked bags were allowed except on a few trains after midnight. WTF? The wife and I had a couple of
    pieces of luggage each.
    Three of us went to NYC from Harrisburg via Amtrak for a 10 day vacation. We had 5 bags - we just schlepped them on ourselves and threw them in the overhead. No really an issue - but it helped that most of our bags have wheels. I would think there would be plenty of space since most people only have a briefcase at most.
    Last edited by Altair 4; 01-05-14 at 05:30 PM. Reason: Clarity!

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    I live near Philly and am glad that they handle baggage at the 30th Street Station. Usually when I take the train I will drop off the bike the day before and when I get to my final destination my bike is there. It is much cheaper than flying with a bike and much less of a hassle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    Only a 'minute subset' need convenient baggage service? I think not. More to do with union rules than passenger convenience. I can't check baggage in Marshall, 30 miles away, but can in Longview, 50 miles away. Same train. Crazy.
    Convenient baggage service does not necessarily mean checked baggage service as you can still carry on most baggage. Have you ever ridden the Northeast Corridor? Very few trains with checked baggage service. Trains packed with people traveling with luggage.

    You example seems crazy only if you think about it superficially. If I had hours and no life I would explain in detail why.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  12. #12
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    I know we're all thinking it -- and many of us have asked over and over again...

    Why can't they just provide one train each day with designated stops in, say, Philly, NYC, and Boston for passengers traveling with bicycles? To be realistic, how about limiting it to one cars-worth of bikes.

    I think the response would be phenomenal, especially during the fair weather months.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    Why can't they just provide one train each day with designated stops in, say, Philly, NYC, and Boston for passengers traveling with bicycles? To be realistic, how about limiting it to one cars-worth of bikes.

    I think the response would be phenomenal, especially during the fair weather months.
    What is the factual basis of your belief? You can today take a combination of SEPTA and NJT between Philly and NYC for probably about half of what Amtrak's lowest fare is? And there is already at least one train/day between Philly and NYC (don't know about Boston, but likely) with checked baggage service, which means you can take a bike.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    You example seems crazy only if you think about it superficially. If I had hours and no life I would explain in detail why.
    I got hours to listen. How hard can it be to slide open a baggage car door and throw a boxed bike aboard? Buses do it at any stop and charge extra for the service if 'oversized,' which boxed bikes are.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  15. #15
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    >>>You can today take a combination of SEPTA and NJT between Philly and NYC for probably about half of what Amtrak's lowest fare is? And there is already at least one train/day between Philly and NYC (don't know about Boston, but likely) with checked baggage service, which means you can take a bike<<<<<


    W-w-w-haaaaa????? If this is true, I am so there sometime later this year. Going to the websites now to piece it together.
    Papa Tom

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  16. #16
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    OK, just visited the websites and I feel like I need a travel agent to work it all out. Can somebody give this knucklehead a quick summary of how to get from Penn Station in NYC to Philadelphia?
    Papa Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    OK, just visited the websites and I feel like I need a travel agent to work it all out. Can somebody give this knucklehead a quick summary of how to get from Penn Station in NYC to Philadelphia?
    I went to NJ Transit's website and used Penn Station NYC as my departure point and Philadelphia as my arrival point, selected "train" as mode of transport, and it gave me the whole day's schedule for both the NJT train and SEPTA. What I can't find is the baggage car availability, if there is any. Ask Indyfabz for that info. Looks like one transfer at Trenton Transit Center, from NJT to SEPTA. Fare is $15.50 for NJT and $9.00 for SEPTA.

    Amtrak's Carolinian has baggage service between the cities departs at 7:05 AM. Fare is much higher.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    OK, just visited the websites and I feel like I need a travel agent to work it all out. Can somebody give this knucklehead a quick summary of how to get from Penn Station in NYC to Philadelphia?
    You take NJT's Northeast Corridor service to Trenton and transfer to SEPTA. There are no baggage cars. You bring your bike in the passnger car with you. On NJT you are supposed to board the weheelchair accessible car. Don't know about SEPTA. There are certain blackout times for bikes during weekdays on both NJT and SEPTA. It depends on the time and direction. For example, during the week, you may not bring you bike on an NJT train the terminates at Penn Station or
    Hoboken prior to 10 a.m.

    Both agencies' bike policies can be found with simple Google searches like "NJT bike policy."

    You can also take NJT to Trenton and then take NJT's River Line light rail to Camden and then PATCO to Philadelphia. PATCO allows bikes 24/7. I believe the River Line does as well.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    I got hours to listen. How hard can it be to slide open a baggage car door and throw a boxed bike aboard? Buses do it at any stop and charge extra for the service if 'oversized,' which boxed bikes are.
    Ask yourself the following questions:
    - How much money does Amtrak lose by replacing a passenger car with a baggage car?
    - How many customers per train are likely to have so much luggage that they'll need to check it?
    - How much does it cost to have one (or more?) unionized employees to load and unload baggage at each station?

    Bottom line: if there were demand for checked luggage and it were cost-effective, Amtrak would probably offer the service. Clearly, there isn't demand. Most trains these days are focused on commuters or freight. People who travel with luggage, by and large, do it via car or airplane.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    >>>>You take NJT's Northeast Corridor service to Trenton and transfer to SEPTA...<<<<

    I can't believe this simple solution was right under my nose all this time! So now a day trip to ride, say, the Schuylkill is a possibility. And I suppose I could find a similar AMTRAK alternative to get me and my bike to Boston, as well? Thank you.

    Anyway, my larger point was that, if AMTRAK would open up bicycle service to other places along its many corridors - even limited to certain times of year, certain days, certain hours, etc - they would have an opportunity to attract many new customers. Obviously, someone at AMTRAK knows better than I do, though.
    Papa Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
    What I can't find is the baggage car availability, if there is any.

    Neither of them have baggage cars or checked baggage but both of them have allow roll-ons off peak.

    http://www.njtransit.com/rg/rg_servl...=BikeProgramTo
    http://www.septa.org/policy/bike.html

  22. #22
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    Multiple questions in this thread. Some thoughts:

    1. For the OP, unless you want to ride around Philly a lot, there isn't much benefit to bringing your bike just to ride to Bilenky. The weather in February won't be the greatest, anyway (as I'm sure you know). His shop is a two-minute walk from the SEPTA Regional Rail Olney station on the Fox Chase line (http://www.septa.org/stations/rail/olney.html). It's not the greatest neighborhood, but not the worst, either. You'll be fine walking there from the train. Center City Philly is the hub for the Regional Rail system, and you can easily get to (or transfer to) the Fox Chase line from any of the stations there. If you are dropping a car off to be shipped, I assume you will be down near the port in South Philadelphia. A subway line runs from there up to center city, and many bus lines, too. Use the above link to plan your trip by public transit. After visiting Bilenky, just hop back on the Fox Chase line back to Philadelphia and get off at 30th Street Station, which is the AMTRAK station (the regional train goes directly there).

    2. As others have said, even if your train won't take bikes, you should be able to ship the bike as unaccompanied baggage on AMTRAK, assuming Cleveland has a manned baggage station. But, if it does, I don't get why you can't take the bike with you on your trip then? In either case, you'll have to box it and drop it off at the freight counter, which is just to the right of the main AMTRAK ticket counters at 30th Street Station (I've shipped several bikes there). Alternately, you could ask the good folks at Bilenky if they have a spare box and you could see if they would ship your bike back via UPS or FedEx, and then you simply take the SEPTA train back to AMTRAK. @Tandemtom, I live 10-15 minutes away from Bilenky, and right at the end of the Fox Chase line (another few stops from the Olney station). Let me know via PM if you need any help (we're tandemists, too).

    3. Regarding traveling from NYC to Philly, you can go direct via AMTRAK from NY Penn Station to Philly's 30th Street Station, but I assume you'll have to box your bike and possibly ship it separately as noted above. The cheaper alternative, although it takes a bit longer, is to take NJT from NY Penn Station to Trenton, then catch the SEPTA Trenton line to Philadelphia. The SEPTA train is generally waiting on the other side of the platform for the NJT train to pull in, and it would be simple to wheel your bike directly from one train to the other. I know you can take bikes on SEPTA (off peak: see policy at http://www.septa.org/policy/bike.html), but you'll have to check on NJT. From 30th Street you can connect directly to the Schuylkill River Trail right from the station via the fairly new Schuylkill Banks Trail, which connects with the main SRT at the Phila Art Museum. If you want, you could ride out the SRT and connect with the Perkiomen Trail at Oaks, Pa., to ride as far as Green Lane County Park (there is camping there), a distance of ~42 miles one way. The Perkiomen Trail is really pretty, and goes through some fairly rural areas. It's crushed gravel, not paved like the SRT. You can cut almost 20 miles off this trip in either (or both) directions by putting your bike on the SEPTA Norristown line train, which connects the Norristown Transportation Center (literally right on the SRT) with downtown Philadelphia's stations, where you can connect with the Trenton line or AMTRAK. For a map of the SEPTA Regional Rail system (which offers lots of possibilities), see http://www.septa.org/maps/system/index.html.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I believe Amtrak does listen, at least that is the case in the PNW. They recently retrofitted their baggage cars to handle 12 unboxed bikes, rather than the 6 they previously handled.

    Amtrak had a representative at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit meeting last April. This is a meeting where representative from a number of state and federal agencies, organizations, and businesses meet to network and resolve human powered transportation issues. Amtrak appears to be listening to cyclist.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    >>>Amtrak appears to be listening to cyclists<<<

    Cool!
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    And I suppose I could find a similar AMTRAK alternative to get me and my bike to Boston, as well?
    It's a lot more complicated and you will have to ride at least 45 miles.

    There are 3 ways for you to get to New London Ct:
    1. you can take Metro North from Grand Central (NYC) to New Haven CT, then take CT DOT's Shore Line East to New London
    2. You are on LI, so you can take the LIRR to Port Jeff. Sta; ride 2 miles to the Pt Jeff-Bridgeport Ferry; take the New Haven RR to New Haven and change for CT DOT's Shor Line East to New London
    3. You can take the LIRR to Greenport; ride 10 miles to the Orient Pt-New London Ferry

    Next you have to ride to the Wickford Jct station, which is located near North Kingston RI

    Finally, you can take the MBTA commuter rail from Wickford Jct to Boston

    Another alternative, if you like taking risks is to try a Chinatown bus between NYC and Boston. You usually can make advance arrangements to take your bike on the bus without boxing. You can help yourself by removing the wheels and pedals. The bike will then lie flat and take up very little room.

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