Bikes on Amtrak - subtle update to the FAQ needed - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

Bikes on Amtrak - subtle update to the FAQ needed

John Pescatore

I just finished a ride across Florida that got interrupted by weather. My original plan was to get on Amtrak at Jacksonville with my bike but backup was to get on the previous stop at Palatka.

The Amtrak FAQ for bikes says "Enter your origin and destination in the Fare Finder (for example, Los Angeles to Seattle). If bike service is available, an icon with a number of spaces available will display." I saw the icon, saw it said zero spaces available - but figured one space was my bike getting on in Jacksonsville. But, even telephone Amtrak agents couldn't book me from there with a bike - they kept saying all bike space was full.

What the FAQ should say is: "Enter your origin and destination in the Fare Finder (for example, Los Angeles to Seattle). If bike service is available, an icon with a number of spaces available will display. If the spaces available says zero, it may mean that the station you have selected is unattended, which means bicycles can NOT be loaded there. Our telephone service agents don't know this, though."

Turns out that if you just look at the info page for any Amtrak station, you will see Baggage listed under Station Details, but that is just a heading! You have to click on it to see "No checked baggage service" displayed...

Luckily, local Enterprise rental car had a pickup truck they wanted to be up in JAX anyway, got a cheap one way rental and made the train from JAX. Nice baggage guy at JAX said if the online station listing says "shelter" then there is almost never baggage service, which makes sense I guess.

Reply    Link    Flag
4 weeks ago
Karen CookTo John Pescatore

Hi,

I have noticed something like that.  If you try and book your bike from a station without bike service it says there are not spaces.

If you are trying to book from a station with service but it says no bike spaces are available, you can sometimes decipher where the bottleneck is by clicking stations down the line.

Karen

Reply    Link    Flag
3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo John Pescatore

Timely information, and very good to know.  I just discovered this myself this week, trying to book a trip from Tucson (attended) to Benson (unattended).  I don’t think the agent at the station understood this was the issue though, and just thought all spaces were taken.  Fortunately, you can take folders on as carry-on luggage, at least in theory.  They sold me the tickets and confirmed the policy, so we’re hopeful.  If I remember, I’ll come back and record the result next week.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 weeks ago
John PescatoreTo Scott Anderson

Actually, I just broke the code: if you look the online Amtrak .pdf route schedule (for example, here) and you see an filled circle next to a listing, that is an unmanned station and you can't load or unload a bike there.

Of course, if you see a filled-in circle, the key says "Staffed Station with ticket office; may or may not be open for all train departures." 

So, to recap: open dot, always bad. Filled in dot, sometimes bad.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 weeks ago