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Bicycles aboard Amtrak Vermonter

Old 06-28-08, 03:00 PM
  #1  
mcccxxv
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Bicycles aboard Amtrak Vermonter

Are you aware of any advocacy group working to have Amtrak allow bikes on board more of its east coast lines, specifically 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.

Moreover, the summer season is a great opportunity for people to take their bike aboard the train, connecting to cycling routes in NY, CT, MA, and VT.

Amtrak already has experience allowing bikes on other lines within its service (Downeaster & Cascades). MetroNorth allows bikes on all its trains with no special car for them or special rack. Commuter rail and subway in Boston does the same.

I would like to know who else is working on (or interested in) this cause that we can work together.

Any ideas?
 
Old 06-28-08, 11:03 PM
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You will notice one thing about Amtrak and bikes, their bike friendliest lines are always a state supported train.

Vermonter
Downeaster
Cascades
Surfliner
San Joaquins
Capital Corrider

So you would not be lobbying Amtrak but rather the states that fund those trains. Amtrak itself is a bureaucratic entity that, to be frank, is continuously bankrupt, so lobbying them to convert one car of their very limited rolling stock is an effort destined to fail.

The only reputable lobbying organization I can refer you to about passenger rail is NARP.org
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Old 06-30-08, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Galls View Post
You will notice one thing about Amtrak and bikes, their bike friendliest lines are always a state supported train.

Vermonter
Downeaster
Cascades
Surfliner
San Joaquins
Capital Corrider
The Vermonter is not bike friendly, is it? Amtrak does no longer allows bikes on this line.
Originally Posted by Galls View Post
so lobbying them to convert one car of their very limited rolling stock is an effort destined to fail.
They really do not need to convert a whole car. Many other trains allow bikes on the same passenger cars in the luggage space areas. For example, MetroNorth and MBTA Commuter Rail all allow bikes with no special car for them.
Originally Posted by Galls View Post
The only reputable lobbying organization I can refer you to about passenger rail is NARP.org
Great, thank you. I shall reach out to them.
 
Old 07-01-08, 06:41 PM
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I would also appreciate if I bring a bicycle on the Vermonter. I don't think that MassBike has an active campaign for this. I don't know about bike advocacy groups in VT, CT, and NY
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Old 07-01-08, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by mcccxxv View Post
They really do not need to convert a whole car. Many other trains allow bikes on the same passenger cars in the luggage space areas. For example, MetroNorth and MBTA Commuter Rail all allow bikes with no special car for them.
The Bombadier Comet II's, III's and bi-levels used by these transit agencies are pre-configured quite different in floor layout to suit commuters, luggage, cyclists, etc.

Amtrak's Horizon (similar in appearance to the Comet series) and Amfleet coaches that are presently in service (I forget which is assigned to the Vermonter) are set up primarily as medium or long-distance coaches with no provisions except for seating and overhead luggage, IIRC:


(Amfleet shown)

-Kurt
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Old 07-01-08, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
The Bombadier Comet II's, III's and bi-levels used by these transit agencies are pre-configured quite different in floor layout to suit commuters, luggage, cyclists, etc.

Amtrak's Horizon (similar in appearance to the Comet series) and Amfleet coaches that are presently in service (I forget which is assigned to the Vermonter) are set up primarily as medium or long-distance coaches with no provisions except for seating and overhead luggage, IIRC:


(Amfleet shown)

-Kurt
That is all Amfleet you will not find horizons on the NEC.
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Old 07-01-08, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Galls View Post
That is all Amfleet you will not find horizons on the NEC.
Forgot that this was double-duty NEC equipment. I got the photo right then - can't change that.

P.S.: Here is one of the two checked-baggage cars that was removed from the Vermonter service:

http://railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=58227

Not every day you see an 85 footer baggage car either - they're usually 72's.

Funny that Amtrak booted it out of Vermonter, considering that they have a reasonable surplus of baggage cars mothballed at Beech Grove.

-Kurt
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Old 07-01-08, 09:50 PM
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MetroNorth does not have any special space for bicycles. They simply let passengers put the bike between seats, along the aisle, or in the space between opposite-facing seats.

I am often on the Vermonter and almost positive there is space (rack space and open space) for luggage. I have to take a picture of it next.

I appreciate that there are times when Amtrak will be busy (holidays, weekends, etc, they have a better idea of booking status). In those times, it will not make sense to get the bike between the seats. But based on availability, why not offer the space for bikes!
 
Old 07-01-08, 10:05 PM
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I have my doubts about rack space on the Amfleets - whether running full or on the "off" season. As for the extra space, snap me a shot when you have a chance. Make sure it isn't an ex-Metroliner cab-control car that you photograph - those are on-and-off appearances on the Vermonter.

-Kurt
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Old 07-01-08, 10:44 PM
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Sweet! You guys absolutely know your trains.
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Old 07-20-09, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Galls View Post
You will notice one thing about Amtrak and bikes, their bike friendliest lines are always a state supported train.

Vermonter
Downeaster
Cascades
Surfliner
San Joaquins
Capital Corrider

So you would not be lobbying Amtrak but rather the states that fund those trains. Amtrak itself is a bureaucratic entity that, to be frank, is continuously bankrupt, so lobbying them to convert one car of their very limited rolling stock is an effort destined to fail.
Hm... When I first glanced at your list, before actually reading your post, the words coming to mind were green, yuppie, blue state. But I agree with the state supported theory. You can add the following fly-over country, state-supported trains to the list: Illinois Service, Missouri Service, several NC trains, and the Heartland Flyer (Ft. Worth - OK City).

Another point backing up your statement is the fact that none of the Empire Service trains (NY state) allow bikes. For some reason, unlike all the other SIMILAR trains mentioned, NY has gotten away with not supporting them.

See comment below about limited rolling stock.
Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post

Amtrak's Horizon (similar in appearance to the Comet series) and Amfleet coaches that are presently in service (I forget which is assigned to the Vermonter) are set up primarily as medium or long-distance coaches with no provisions except for seating and overhead luggage, IIRC:
-Kurt
Illinois and Missouri service trains use horizon coaches exclusively (except when it snows); and all have roll-on, roll-off bike service. They get put anywhere they'll fit.
Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
P.S.: Here is one of the two checked-baggage cars that was removed from the Vermonter service:

http://railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=58227

Not every day you see an 85 footer baggage car either - they're usually 72's.

Funny that Amtrak booted it out of Vermonter, considering that they have a reasonable surplus of baggage cars mothballed at Beech Grove.

-Kurt
The rust in your picture may give a clue as to why they were booted. For those who don't know, Beech Grove is a major repair facility. It's my understanding that there have been a lot of coaches, sleepers, diners, and lounges also sitting around Beech Grove and Bear, DE., another repair facility, as well. No money to rehabilitate them.

With the recent stimulus money, I've heard Amtrak has placed an RFP for a huge order of new rolling stock, including baggage and baggage/dorm cars. But I've also heard that the baggage car part will just about allow them to retire all the 60 year old rust buckets, but not allow for much expansion.

PS. Is that a superliner car behind the bag?
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Old 07-20-09, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mcccxxv View Post
The Vermonter is not bike friendly, is it? Amtrak does no longer allows bikes on this line.
The Vermonter is not currently listed on their website that covers which lines allow bikes.

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...=1080080554487


The MBTA commuter rail only allows bikes during non-peak hours. So it's not a perfect system.
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Old 07-20-09, 03:43 PM
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Amtrak itself is a bureaucratic entity that, to be frank, is continuously bankrupt,
So the Fluck What?
If bankruptcy was a deciding factor, then Goldman Sachs would be out on their pampered arse, instead of posting taxpayer funded earnings.

If we're going to socialize losses, then public transportation is leaps and bounds ahead in my list than any damn investment bank.
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Old 07-21-09, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Bikepacker67 View Post
So the Fluck What?
If bankruptcy was a deciding factor, then Goldman Sachs would be out on their pampered arse, instead of posting taxpayer funded earnings.

If we're going to socialize losses, then public transportation is leaps and bounds ahead in my list than any damn investment bank.
I agree with you that we have a need for better public transportation, but you're arguing Apples and Oranges.

The bailouts were a one time deal, due to bad investments and loan practices. A change in those practice could have a positive effect. The banks have shown a profit in the past, they'll most likely post a profit in the future, without continued support.

Amtrak on the other hand is a broken system that isn't being fixed. Amtrak has not been self sufficient in a long time. And the changes that need to be made aren't forthcoming.

Also, if we're going to keep investing in Amtrak, we should also keep investing in the big three automakers, since none of them are self sufficient at this point. They're all in the same boat, if you exclude one, you need to exclude them all.

Plus, like it or not, banks are a necessary evil in the modern economics of the world. Transportation isn't a necessity, it's a luxury. If the manufacturers of cars and operators of airlines and trains went out of business, we'd still have bikes. and feet.

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Old 07-21-09, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by jobtraklite View Post
The rust in your picture may give a clue as to why they were booted. For those who don't know, Beech Grove is a major repair facility. It's my understanding that there have been a lot of coaches, sleepers, diners, and lounges also sitting around Beech Grove and Bear, DE., another repair facility, as well. No money to rehabilitate them.
That surface shell rust means little if it was still in service in that photo. Akin to relating some surface rust on your car with instant frame failure. Nope - it isn't falling apart under drawbar forces in this photo, and it hasn't for close to 50 years. Furthermore, most rolling stock with failed frames end up getting scrapped.

For that matter, what about all the Heritage-series coaches that were modified into bags? Cabbage NCPU F40PH's? There's enough to go around - they've just been binning it in Delaware along with the P40's.


Originally Posted by jobtraklite View Post
With the recent stimulus money, I've heard Amtrak has placed an RFP for a huge order of new rolling stock, including baggage and baggage/dorm cars.
The series dubbed "Viewliner 2". They could have done it back when MPI was building the original Viewliner sleepers (and lone diner, which supposedly was not very well thought out). I have my doubts.


Originally Posted by jobtraklite View Post
But I've also heard that the baggage car part will just about allow them to retire all the 60 year old rust buckets, but not allow for much expansion.
That's the rest of the stupidity. If you need more service, you buy the new equipment, and run the old stuff into the ground in the process. The ironic bit is that Amtrak has little nationwide ridership as it is to need it.

Better off to spend some of the money on a good advertising campaign that specifically targets rail as an alternative to "stressful flying." Never mind the beautiful scenery shots of previous advertisements - nobody cares nor pays attention to it.


Originally Posted by jobtraklite View Post
PS. Is that a superliner car behind the bag?
Yep. Can't tell whether it's a II or a I.

-Kurt
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Old 07-21-09, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mcccxxv View Post
Are you aware of any advocacy group working to have Amtrak allow bikes on board more of its east coast lines, specifically 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.

Moreover, the summer season is a great opportunity for people to take their bike aboard the train, connecting to cycling routes in NY, CT, MA, and VT.

Amtrak already has experience allowing bikes on other lines within its service (Downeaster & Cascades). MetroNorth allows bikes on all its trains with no special car for them or special rack. Commuter rail and subway in Boston does the same.

I would like to know who else is working on (or interested in) this cause that we can work together.

Any ideas?
I lived in the town of Brattleboro(Vermont; near the border with Keene, New Hampshire)1973-76, 1977-80, 1982-84 and, the local train station was on the route of the Montrealer for many years.

That town is a great place for cycling. So, I would imagine, they would start allowing bikes, for the reasons you mentioned.
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Old 07-21-09, 08:38 PM
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Wow, was this thread really a year ago?
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Old 07-23-09, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
That surface shell rust means little if it was still in service in that photo. Akin to relating some surface rust on your car with instant frame failure. Nope - it isn't falling apart under drawbar forces in this photo, and it hasn't for close to 50 years. Furthermore, most rolling stock with failed frames end up getting scrapped.
-Kurt
I was just kidding about the rust. I have no idea whether the mothballed baggage cars were road worthy or not, or fell afoul of FRA regs, or congress told Amtrak to cut baggage car losses, etc..

But my real point was that most people don't know the first thing about Amtrak, except they would like to see better service (not counting those who think it is a Commie-Pinko plot). You sound like an exception.
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Old 07-28-10, 07:50 PM
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Great news for us train-bike tourers: last week's Viewliner 2 order does in fact call for bike racks in all 55 (or 80?) baggage cars, which means a vast expansion to Amtrak's ability to carry unboxed bikes once the cars start arriving in 2012. This goes double for the northeast, since the new baggage cars will be able to run in the NEC -- unlike the existing fleet of ancient baggage cars which can't handle the speeds.

That said, intra-Illinois trains allow unboxed bikes on board and don't have baggage cars, just single-level coaches. You just roll on the bike and find room for it -- typically at the ends, where people store wheelchairs or big bags, but sometimes the conductors tell you to use the overhead racks. I understand that Illinois stipulates that bikes be allowed as a condition of its Amtrak subsidy.

For the OP, you might want to ask the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition or the Vermont DOT. My understanding was that the cost of station staffing, not baggage cars, was the primary reason for discontinuing baggage service (which also carried skis, arguably an even more lucrative market) on the Vermont trains. Still, I'm not sure why the "Illinois solution" couldn't be insisted upon by Vermont.
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Old 04-12-11, 08:59 PM
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What's the current status on the Vermonter? Still not allowed?
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Old 04-13-11, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by mcccxxv View Post
Are you aware of any advocacy group working to have Amtrak allow bikes on board more of its east coast lines, specifically 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.

Moreover, the summer season is a great opportunity for people to take their bike aboard the train, connecting to cycling routes in NY, CT, MA, and VT.

Amtrak already has experience allowing bikes on other lines within its service (Downeaster & Cascades). MetroNorth allows bikes on all its trains with no special car for them or special rack. Commuter rail and subway in Boston does the same.

I would like to know who else is working on (or interested in) this cause that we can work together.

Any ideas?
In the 1970's to early 1980's(Sept.'72-Jun.'75, Sept.'78-Jun.'80, Jan.'82-Jun.'84)I used to ride the Vermonter from Brattleboro(VT) to Washington, D.C. and back. I would be interested.

Tell me what you need.
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Old 04-13-11, 07:23 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Galls View Post
You will notice one thing about Amtrak and bikes, their bike friendliest lines are always a state supported train.

Vermonter
Downeaster
Cascades
Surfliner
San Joaquins
Capital Corrider

So you would not be lobbying Amtrak but rather the states that fund those trains. Amtrak itself is a bureaucratic entity that, to be frank, is continuously bankrupt, so lobbying them to convert one car of their very limited rolling stock is an effort destined to fail.

The only reputable lobbying organization I can refer you to about passenger rail is NARP.org
I use my Dahon expresso several times a year on Amtrak. They allow folders as carry on baggage. You are right, the line is broke and lobbying for more and better equipment to service a small niche of travelers will probably reach a dead end.

Marc
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Old 04-13-11, 09:38 PM
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This is a resurrected thread but one, in my opinion, well worth restarting. Bikes on trains are a fabulous combination and one that I use regularly. Here in Mass. on the Commuter rail- usually to Providence, RI but also west bound to Worcester. When they first allowed bikes on trains I was one of the first and usually ONLY people to do so. Now there are always at least a half dozen or more cyclists on those trains when I take them. I also take my bike on the Metro North trains in and out of NYC.

Amtrak is a pain in the butt about bikes on their trains. Their regulations are inconsistent and so mercurial it's undependable as to whether you can take your bike on the train or not. It can depend on the whim of a conductor or ticket taker and that's unacceptable.
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Old 04-20-11, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Bikepacker67 View Post
So the Fluck What?
If bankruptcy was a deciding factor, then Goldman Sachs would be out on their pampered arse, instead of posting taxpayer funded earnings.

If we're going to socialize losses, then public transportation is leaps and bounds ahead in my list than any damn investment bank.
+1000! As a happy user of the Cascade trains, it's good to see that it's not the only train in the Amtrak system with unboxed bike storage. In the years since it went into service ridership has exploded and daily trains have been added. It is a great alternative to driving the open-air mental hospital that Interstate 5 has become.
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