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    • CommentAuthorsmreinecke
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2013
     
    Hello
    We need your support. Amtrak has decided to start charging bikers $5 each time they ride the train. additional you will need to reserve a spot ahead of time for the ability to bring your bike on the train. I've been commuting on the train for the past 2.5 years and with this increase, it will be cheaper to drive to work then to ride my bike and train. The train now cost $348 per month for a pass, on top of this Amtrak wants an additional $200/month for my bike. I thought we were trying to promote commuting to work not pricing it out of our reach!!!!
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2013
     
    Where was this posted? I just looked at the Amtrak site and saw nothing mentioning it. I know Amtrak Cascades has been doing that, but not Amtrak California.
    • CommentAuthorsynthetic
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2013
     
    I hear taking coaster then the sprinter to LA is just 10 minutes slower. screw amtrak!
    • CommentAuthorStephan
    • CommentTimeApr 30th 2013
     
    Last summer when I took Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver BC so my daughter and I could ride back, I appreciated the ability to reserve a spot for our bikes and didn't think twice about paying the $5. I'm sure having to pay on a daily basis wouldn't be so acceptable however. A better approach for bicyclists would be to have more bike-storing capacity, but I don't know what that would take. My understanding is that not every train has a baggage car. Every year Amtrak has to fight with Congress to keep its federal support, so it' s not like they can just buy new equipment or add service without considering the cost.
  1.  
    sd mike
    it's posted in the Terminal, I also called Amtrak's main number and they confirmed that the fee will start on June 1. $5 each way.

    Stephan
    would agree that reserving a spot on the train has advantages. however for those that need to ride the train ever day, this will cost commuters an extra $2400 a year, on top of the $4296 we already pay to ride the train to work. Buses and our local trains don't charge extra to bring your bike, why should Amtrak? you commented, Amtrak gets federal funding to support public transportation, shouldn't we be supporting public transportation, then discouraging it. this is not adding any additional cost to Amtrak to allow us to bring our bikes. We have been bring our bikes on for years with no problems. once or twice a year they are full and we needed to wait for the next train. however, on every train there is a luggage car, 99% of the time it is completely empty. I don't think equipment or service is the issue.
    •  
      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    I switched to my current recumbent in 2004, because it fit the Amtrak bike hangers. I can see doing the fee when you have the bike in the baggage car, but it doesn't make sense on the Surfliner where it's all self-service.
    • CommentAuthorJSnook
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    Probably Amtrak has someone thinking up ways to generate revenue and this is a result. I would guess few people commute daily on Amtrak? Wouldn't most local commutes be the Coaster (or whatever regional metro service) or am I missing something?
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    With the distances Amtrak does, it would seem easier to live closer rather than take the train. If you're a daily commuter, those are costs you have to deal with. I'm not in favor of the cost increase, but it seems to come at the increase of spots on the train for bicycles (from what I've read about it). However, even with the extra costs, it is still less expensive than driving and far less hassle when you add in traffic, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and any other costs borne with automobiles. 30 miles is about the maximum I'd consider for a daily motorcycle commute, and I'd really prefer far less and be able to bicycle it.
  2.  
    I'm very surprised by several of the comments. I thought this was a Commuter website. I bike 14 miles to Solana Beach station, then take the train to Irvine and then 2 miles on the other end. In the morning and afternoon 75% of the people on the train are commuters. If you are traveling past Oceanside, you have to use Amtrak, Metrolink and the Coaster do not hook up. If I could take the Coaster I would, it's much more "bike" friendly. The question is why a federally funded train service like Amtrak is making it more expenses to commute by train everyday.

    bikingbill
    There are no more hangers for bikes on the train, they took them off 6 months ago and made all the bikers squeeze in the front of the train, one trip we had 12 bikes in one little section.

    sd_Mike
    there is at least 200 people from SD that commute to orange county everyday.
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    My question would really be why live in San Diego and commute to Orange County? It is quite a distance, longer than really necessary. I know that there are always exceptions, but at some point, personal choice has to come into play. Yes, it sucks the price is going up, especially for what was a self-service thing. My suggestion is to simply move closer to the job. Commute costs go way down as a result and you spend far less time commuting period. I'd rather have that time for myself, not having to travel every day. That time adds up fast!
    • CommentAuthorjacobk
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    First off: cheers to you for going through the extra trouble of taking transit on the long commute instead of driving.

    That does suck that they are going to start charging for bikes. I could understand it a little more for reservations on longer train rides where you have to box and store your bike, but on trains like the surfliner where people may take the train every day for commuting and where you can just wheel your bike on and store it does seem greedy. Have they said that they are going to be using the extra funds to improve or expand bicycle facilities on the trains?

    One option might be to get a very small folding bike (like brompton size) that you could just fold quickly and cover with a bag to tag on as a regular bag instead of a bike. A Brompton is a sizeable investment, but if you compare it to paying $200 / month, you'd have paid for it in less than a year.

    I would also just like to throw out there that it's a huge shame that the coaster and the metrolink don't link up in any usable way. There is, what, one or two possible connections a day and none of them are very convenient (something like a 5 min rushed connection time or over an hour wait). It's almost like they're trying to actually discourage people to ride. It's unfortunate because I've heard that the metrolink is a really great commuting and travel option for the LA area. Their low-price weekend pass looks like it would be a great option for a car-free weekend visit up to LA, but the Coaster schedule makes it impossible for most people.
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    The biggest problem on the LOSSAN corridor is capacity. Too much single track makes for not enough space to run the trains we want them to. It will take time, but as more 2MT is added, more trains and a more efficient schedule can be developed. Remember, there are Coaster, Amtrak, Metrolink, and BNSF trains to contend with. Two of those fight for space in/out of LAUPT. The track is only owned by SCRRA and SDNR up to Fullerton. From that point, its BNSF track. The corridor as a whole is pretty much the busiest passenger line outside of the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak is meant for Intercity travel, where Metrolink and Coaster are meant for commuter travel being Los Angeles-centric and San Diego-centric, respectively.
    •  
      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    If you think that Amtrak is being greedy, you haven't seen the outright assault Congressman Mica made on passenger rail the past few years for "only" recovering 85% of operating costs. Amtrak is trying to get closer to breaking even to prove that they still deserve their (small) portion of the Federal Transportation budget. The Surfliner is one of the few profitable routes in the inventory. So I understand why the $5 fee, just like airlines are trying to find ways to recover operating costs without increasing fares. It sucks, more people bring 50 lbs of carry-on luggage, and everyone is inconvenienced trying to get around bag fees, but it's a business decision. They aren't going to use fees to expand bike facilities; the fees are going to keep the rest of the lines across the country afloat. The premiums charged on Acela are used the same way.

    Mike, I think you're looking at this from a very narrow view. First, smreinecke is proving that we don't need billions invested in widening freeways when passenger rail offers a more cost effective and environmentally responsible means of transportation. Thousands upon thousands are making the same commute via car. He isn't contributing to that horrific gridlock from daily commuters on the 5 each day, and is getting quality time for his health by riding 30 miles each day. You've seen Irvine. Housing prices are very high, and they're mostly suburbs that are disconnected from job centers anyways. Getting closer may not be an option. Some people are contractors or "task force" employees, and are not permanently tied to one location. Our Mark Phillips goes to multiple job sites for his work, and has to mix his modes frequently (including the train). Maybe he can't afford to move right now because of the housing market. Maybe his spouse works somewhere closer to their home. Maybe he likes the schools where he lives. Whatever the reason, "Tough shit - move," is a poor attitude to take when a forum member brings up a topic related to multi-mode commuting.

    Now, all that said, I agree with jacobk: folding is probably the recommended way to go. Reading Copenhagenize.com, you will see occasional posts about how trains are not very accommodating to bicycles in Northern Europe (of course, their problem is that there are TOO MANY bikes). Some solve this problem with folders or bike share programs. My Brompton does distance with ease, and holds up incredibly well for travel (airplane, bus, and train). The other option is driving to Oceanside with the bike on a rack and taking Metrolink from there. Oceanside has free parking, so no additional cost incurred beyond the drive. The sad fact is, once you own a car, the difference between car-lite and car-always is very minimal. Your gas will be comparable to the fare difference from Solana Beach, especially since Amtrak charges premium compared to the commuter trains for short haul routes. Also-also, Coaster and Metrolink both operate from Oceanside, so they DO both link up. There transfer schedule was revamped this year, but could still use some tweaking. Coaster from Solana, transfer in Oceanside, Metrolink to Irvine. It is possible.
    • CommentAuthorStephan
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    According to a source I know, the impetus for the bike reservation fee came from bike clubs who want to have rides that include a train ride but were running into problems getting all their members on the train. The reservation and fee is the way Amtrak chose to deal with the question. It works fine for the tourist or the occasional user, but of course it sucks for the regular commuter. Stay tuned. My understanding is that Caltrans, the agency that pays the subsidy for the Surfliner and makes these kind of policy decisions, has heard the complaints and is going to respond. I don't know if that means a reduced fee for monthly pass holders, no fee, or something else.
    • CommentAuthorsd_mike
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2013
     
    Wow. Obviously you misinterpreted my statements. So please, check the attitude.

    My point was two-fold.
    One, capacity for increased service on the LOSSAN corridor is lacking, as a result - not as many trains or as convenient a schedule for some. While it would be nice for Coaster and Metrolink to meet, however Amtrak is designed to fill that gap. Coaster is designed to commute to/from Oceanside and San Diego. Metrolink Orange County Line is set up for inbound commutes to Los Angeles, the Metrolink Inland Empire-Orange County Line is set up for Riverside. They are also run by three different agencies.

    Two, extreme long distance commutes are not optimal for any of the parties involved. They increase costs for everyone and increase time away from home.

    So yes, it sucks there is an increase. It affects all. We all want great services but at some point there will be a cost. As Amtrak, Coaster, and Metrolink are publicly funded in at least some part, we as a whole have to carry that burden. We still get a really great service for the amount we pay in ticket costs. In relation to the commute itself, sure, there is a health benefit to bicycling longer daily. I'd still rather be home earlier to enjoy things other than commuting. I don't want my home to feel more like a motel than a home.
  3.  
    No one chooses to commute long distances. however with this economy and not wanting to move my family every 3-5 years, has my kids asking "please, lets not move until we are out of high school" So, to support the family, I spend 4.5 hours a day, 2 hrs, biking getting exercise, and 2.5 hours sitting on the train working on emails and other office related projects. The goal, while supporting the family is not to drive 174 miles a day and burn up 1902 gallons of gas a year. Mass transit, and this includes Amtrak, should be encourage people to commute via train. If Amtrak wants to be profitable, then they need more riders. Raising rates for those regular customers who already spend $4296 will not help there cause.

    It's disappointing to hear that bike clubs may be the once behind this increase. Yes, once a month there are 3-5 bikes from a club trying to get on the train with there $5000 bikes and they don't want to get them scratched. However for those who actually use there bikes for transportation as oppose to simply getting a workout, we shouldn't have to pay $2400 for the privilege.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSmorg
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2013
     
    smreinecke:It's disappointing to hear that bike clubs may be the once behind this increase. Yes, once a month there are 3-5 bikes from a club trying to get on the train with there $5000 bikes and they don't want to get them scratched. However for those who actually use there bikes for transportation as oppose to simply getting a workout, we shouldn't have to pay $2400 for the privilege.


    I can totally see that. :o) I would catch the buses up north to ride Palomar & De Luz more often, but I feel bad about taking up one of the two slots on the bus' bike rack because sometimes I end up knocking someone commuting by bus & bike to work off the bus (I always get to the bus station very early to make sure I'm the first or second bike in line). That's particular sucky on more rural routes like the 388/389 Escondido - Pala Casino loop routes where there's only 1 bus every 2 hrs. :o( Have been thinking of catching the train north and then riding back, and I wouldn't mind paying extra bug for bike space, but I totally agree that they shouldn't charge the extra fee to people already using monthly/yearly pass. Regular customers aren't the folks a good business would want to alienate!

    Kudos to you for biking part of the way on your commute rather than driving! :o)
    • CommentAuthorVeloCafé
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2013
     
    There was a time I had no choice but to commute by car every day. When I moved here to SD I said NEVER AGAIN! So I can relate to your situation.

    If true, it was a negligent short sighted request of weekend warrior cyclists to ask for a reservation & fee to ensure they had space for their large group of bikes. However Amtrak should also have considered the impact and exclusion of daily commuters to this fee.

    I saw this come across on Twitter today and it's worth adding to discussion: http://www.sandag.org/uploads/projectid/projectid_420_15743.pdf
    •  
      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2013
     
    Personally I think the high speed rail plan is perhaps the dumbest thing I have followed in decades. Do people really want to go to Barstow? Honest?

    We have a train, the Coast Starlight, that runs from LA to San Jose (with Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo in between) and points beyond. Those tracks exist.



    Spend the cash to add the double tracks, eliminate the at-grade crossings, electrify the lines. That would make sense.
    •  
      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2013
     
    Personally I think the high speed rail plan is perhaps the dumbest thing I have followed in decades. Do people really want to go to Barstow? Honest?

    We have a train, the Coast Starlight, that runs from LA to San Jose (with Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo in between) and points beyond. Those tracks exist.

    Honestly, yes. The numbers along the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin routes show a desire for a north-south connection in Central/Northern California:
    Capitol Corridor August 2012
    - Ridership: 146,232 riders; -5% vs. August 2011; +3 vs. prior YTD
    - Revenue: $2,371,167; +3% vs. August 2011; 9% vs. prior YTD
    - On-Time Performance: 92%, YTD OTP of 94%
    - System Operating Ratio: 50% Fiscal YTD, 51% Calendar YTD

    Pacific Surfliners August 2012:
    - Ridership: 263,264 passengers; -5% vs. August 2011, and -6% below prior YTD
    – Ticket Revenue: -4% vs. August 2011 and +6% vs. prior YTD
    - On-time performance for August 2012: 67% (YTD FY 2012 on-time performance: 75%)

    San Joaquin August 2012:
    - Ridership: 102,385 passengers +4% vs. August 2011, and +7% vs. prior YTD
    – Ticket Revenue only: +5% vs. August 2011, and +9% vs. prior YTD
    - On-time performance for August 2012: 84% (YTD FY 2012 on-time performance: 88%)


    Some reasons to against your proposal:
    1) The Southern California portion of the line moves through heavily populated areas that would restrict speed.
    2) NIMBYs have been fighting Caltrain on exactly your proposal to widen and electrify. Given current CEQA rules, they can drag the fight out forever.
    3) The current route is unsuitable to HSR because of the twists-and-turns, elevation changes, and lack of width available to expand in most areas, especially along the coast in San Diego and Santa Barbara counties.
    4) The "mega-commuter" is here to stay, and the largest proportion is in Northern California originating from inland.
    5) The route already exists, and part of HSR's goal is to address a different market. Increase capacity and service along the coastal route, I agree, but the HSR route is aimed at making different connections. Rail is about serving intermediate stops, not just the end-to-end route. It doesn't need to be one or the other.

    An additional link for our OP, here's a little coverage on Metrolink investigating an expansion to San Diego based upon the new LOSSAN authority. I would also recommend looking into the National Association of Railroad Passengers if you intend to continue using rail on a frequent basis.
    • CommentAuthorVeloCafé
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2013
     
    There's been rumors for almost three years now that Metrolink would acquire the Coaster from NCTD and expand service further into downtown with a final stop near the Convention Center / PetCo Park instead of Santa Fe Depot.

    Amtrak would be more efficient with fewer stops allowing Metrolink / NCTD to handle intermediary stops.
    • CommentAuthorStephan
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2013
     
    Metrolink will not be acquiring the Coaster operation. Those are two distinct operators with legislatively defined service areas. What might happen is that the LOSSAN Corridor Joint Powers Authority might take over responsibility for the Pacific Surfliner from Caltrans Division of Rail. That will bring the decision-making about these things closer to the users. With any luck, that will prevent mistakes like assuming bike clubs represent the interests of all bicyclists.
    • CommentAuthoreaton
    • CommentTimeMay 4th 2013
     
    bikingbill:Personally I think the high speed rail plan is perhaps the dumbest thing I have followed in decades.
    No, the dumbest thing was buying desert land in anticipation of the rail. At least it's paid off now.
    •  
      CommentAuthorPaul
    • CommentTimeMay 6th 2013
     
    I rode the Surfliner up on Saturday. For the first time ever, I was told I had to put my Brompton in a bag if I wanted to store it on the rack, otherwise I would have to use bike parking. I pretended I didn't have the bag without consequence.
    •  
      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeMay 6th 2013
     
    Stephan:Metrolink will not be acquiring the Coaster operation. Those are two distinct operators with legislatively defined service areas. What might happen is that the LOSSAN Corridor Joint Powers Authority might take over responsibility for the Pacific Surfliner from Caltrans Division of Rail. That will bring the decision-making about these things closer to the users. With any luck, that will prevent mistakes like assuming bike clubs represent the interests of all bicyclists.


    They could adjust the schedules by a few minutes, so you could transfer from the Coaster to the Metrolink and visa-versa.

    Right now they miss each-other by minutes.

    What a Co-inky-dink.
    • CommentAuthorSam
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2013
     
    Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner Adopts Wildly Anti-Bicycle Policy


    An easy way for social media users to let Amtrak know their displeasure would be to tweet @PACSurfliners. If one would like to notify a local elected official, your Congressman or Senator would be the best one to contact. However, Streetsblog Contributor and Southern California Transit Advocates Board Member Dana Gabbard offers a more practical way to lodge your displeasure.


    Also email your elected rep by looking them up here. If you are a BikeSD member - say so. Apparently BikeSD members seem to get responses quicker.
    • CommentAuthorSam
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2013
     
    • CommentAuthoranton
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2013
     
    I honestly don't see the difference between the sign they posted downstairs claiming I have to reserve a bike spot and pay $5 each way and a sign that says "no bikes allowed." With a $5k a year already spent traveling Amtrak and another inherent $2k on top, one has to wonder, especially if Amtrak is hiding under the rouse of "safety reasons" for having too many bikes and not enough spaces. In fact, I'll go walk down there right now retype it for you all right now.

    Here you go:

    April 15, 2013

    The number of bicycles being carried onto the self service racks on pacific suriner trains often exceeds the number of take available and this is causing safety problems.

    Effective Saturday June 1, 2013

    -a reservation (bv space) is required for all bicycles carried onto pacific surfliner trains
    -the cost for each bike is $5
    -there are 6 bike racks on each train, in either the can car ....Tec
    -passengers put their own bikes into the racks when boarding. , the conductors lift their bicycle space tickets, and the passengers remove their own bikes upon arrival
    -where checked bags service is available, boxed bikes or those in bike bags may be sent as checked baggage. The special item charge is $10 and if a bike box is needed, it may be purchased from Amtrak for an additional $15
    -bikes may not be out in any other location on the train
    -the current free "first come first served" non-reservation bike process ends on last train on may 31st.

    CARLETON MCDONALD
    • CommentAuthoranton
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2013
     
    ^please excuse typos, that was on my iPhone
    • CommentAuthorVeloCafé
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2013
     
    On the 565 train this morning:

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
    •  
      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2013
     
    'safety problems'

    Is there any actual injuries here?

    Crazy.
    • CommentAuthorVeloCafé
    • CommentTimeMay 15th 2013
     
    Via Twitter @Amtrak: Effective June 1, a reservation will be required for bicycles on the #PacificSurfliner trains. Bicycle space will be free.

    Motion to close this thread and keep conversations to "Bikes on a Train" thread.
    • CommentAuthorModerator
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2013
     
    Thread closed. Discussion moved to "Bikes on a train"