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Reply to Amtrak bike drama
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Ze from DC on 10/7/2022 11:15:49 PM:
So i wanted to ride my bike from Pittsburgh down to Cumberland along the GAP, with the plan to take the train up to PA and bike down to Cumberland. After making my reservations (airbnb/hotels), I tried to book the train and "check in" my bike (I had done that between DC/Cumberland last year and paid $20)... except this time Amtrak website says all bike slots are SOLD OUT. I called them, they confirmed. I pleaded saying I had already made my plans, tough luck, customer service lady said driver/personnel would not let me on the train and I cannot store bike as there is no Bike/Luggage curbside service on this train. I tried to rebook my trip for later, but I am now looking at end of October, and everything says SOLD OUT for bikes on this Capitol "Limited" (name befitting).

What is Amtrak doing? I read that they are cutting on bike service in upstate NY/route to Canada. Is this is a new thing? This is one of the most popular bike routes and they are limiting it to 6 bikes per day (as the person on the line from Amtrak said).

Am I missing something? If Amtrak is making this difficult for bikers with their new changes, I think it may be time we let them hear from community.

NDT from Atlanta, GA on 10/9/2022 10:40:23 AM:
We have just experienced the same thing. Our family of 4 just tried to book Amtrack for Cumberland to Pittsburg in May 2023, and there is only 1 bike slot left. So frustrating. I also welcome any suggestions or advice.

Rivnuts from Homestead PA on 10/10/2022 8:36:03 PM:
We cyclists have long shared your frustration. I’ve never seen their reservation page show more than one available bike registration and their customer service is more of a disservice. I boarded last Friday in Pittsburgh and mine was the only bike in the baggage car!

Rscphoto from Savannah,GA on 10/15/2022 6:53:09 PM:
Hey Rivnuts,
Good to meet you out there in the C&O and into Cumberland! I am in Pittsburgh now and hoping my impending return trip will be free of hassles. I am having to buy a box and check my bike, but that should be fine just so long as we both get home at close ti the same time. I am hoping checking the bike will speed my transfer in DC. The agent I spoke ti said it should check through. We shall see. Always uncertainty where Amtrak s involved. Fingers crossed.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 10/16/2022 10:43:32 AM:

Glad you made it into the 'Burgh safely. Hopefully, you got some comfort and rest (as well as a shower) in Cumberland. I presume you got a little wet Thursday as did I as I reached home that afternoon.

What did you end up doing last night once you arrived in Pittsburgh and before getting the train this morning? I'm sorry I wasn't available to host you here before departing.

It was a pleasure having someone to ride with for many miles along the C&O. It made the miles pass by more quickly and enjoyably.

Best wishes.

Bill in Houston from Houston on 10/21/2022 11:12:34 AM:
For two people or more, a one-way minivan or van rental is probably cheaper than Amtrak, and gives you the flexibility of stopping for supplies and such. AND, no drama.

We have tried to make Amtrak work a few times, and they just aren't interested.

Chris George from Golden, Colorado on 10/21/2022 3:59:44 PM:
Hey FWIW, I am arriving in Pittsburg Saturday night (October 22nd, 2022) at 11pm to start the GAP trail ride down to DC. Prolly be in Boston PA SUnday morning. Riding my green gravel bike. Looking forward to sharing some smiles along the miles!

Christopher Scanlon from Skokie on 11/19/2022 5:29:08 PM:
I did the GAP/C&O in the spring of 2022. I took Amtrak from Chicago to Pittsburgh, I had a bike reservation on this leg but their was no special bike section of the baggage car. The Amtrak agents just escorted me to the baggage car and I loaded my bike, panniers and all attached. For the return ride home from DC to Chicago there were no bike reservations available on the train. I spoke to three different Amtrak agents over a month and was finally able to get one of them to explain that "no bike availability" meant no special bike slots in the baggage car but for $15, they would supply me with a bike box in DC and load my bike in the baggage car. I did this (only had to remove handlebars) and made the trip back to Chicago. The level of unfamiliarity with bike travel protocols by the phone agents contrasted with the good service provided at the stations. Its a shame Amtrak seems to be on a mission to discourage bike travel.

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/19/2022 7:06:19 PM:
I’ve made that trip 8 times on Amtrak with a “bike reservation” the privilege for which I paid $20 but only once was there a dedicated bike hanging rack in which to put my bike. All the other times, I had to take my bike to and lean my bike against the baggage car wall or on its floor. Further, on 3/4 this of those trips I had to change my desired schedule or direction just to get a bike reservation.

If I understand Mr. Scanlon’s post correctly I could have paid $5 less, travelled on any day and in either direction I preferred, been provided a box and not have to walk my bike onto and down the platform and up the elevator. Ah, but I forgot...I would have had to remove the 4 small bolts that connect my handlebars to the stem.

What was I thinking? ????

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/22/2022 10:29:22 AM:
In fairness to Amtrak, their bike baggage policy is given as follows:

“Bicycles/bicycle trailers may be checked in a bicycle container for $10, in lieu of a piece of baggage. Bicycle boxes are sold at most staffed locations for $15 per box. Customers may supply their own bicycle container. The fee for checking a bike as baggage is $10.00.”

Under that policy, buying a bike box from them and then paying them to ship the box as baggage would total $25. It would seem Mr. Scanlon got a bargain but affirms that perhaps not all Amtrak agents understand or can convey their policy correctly to cyclists.

Rick on 12/22/2022 7:23:19 PM:
I honestly feel that Amtrak went into this arrangement with R2T's silently kicking and screaming. Their sitting on a miniature gold mine. People want to travel by train and don't mind paying the extra $20. Just a few years ago their were 8 designated bike slots and now it seems there are only 2-3 offered on any given day.loust service, nit enough income? I don't know the reason why but amtrak appears not to be interested in offering a badly needed service to the biking community.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 1/1/2023 9:43:37 PM:
Interestingly I'm working on a plan to ride the Ohio to Erie Trail (OTET) from Cincinatti to Cleveland in mid-May. To do so, I'm looking at taking Amtrak to get to Cincy from Pittsburgh via Amtrak's Capital Limited and Cardinal trains and the Capital Limited from Cleveland back to Pittsburgh.

While there are bike reservations available on each of these trains at this time (as I hope there would be 5 months in advance), the Amtrak online reservation system indicates there are only 2 bike reservations left on the Capital Limited trains. I question if that information is correct but, if so, there will certainly be none left in the near term as others begin to plan their 2023 bike trips.

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 1/24/2023 9:30:31 AM:
Well, things are changing as we speak with Amtrak’s Capital Limited Train’s bike reservation availability from Washington DC to Pittsburgh. I tried last night to finalize a May trip and it took several aborted online reservation attempts before I finally found one but it was several days outside my window for travel. I know, I could buy a box and ship my bike as baggage. But why must we have to do so when the box and a bare bike ship in the same baggage car?

It’s frustrating enough not to find an available bike reservation in my time window for travel but even more so that you have to use time consuming unsuccessful reservation attempts while doing so. At a minimum Amtrak should add a feature to their reservation web page that shows all the remaining bike reservations available for each day on a particular train from one city to another. That would prevent having to make multiple reservation attempts just to find one.

Ok, my blood pressure is coming down slowly now.