Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Monday, August 18, 2014

Amtrak 'Multi-Ride' 2014 Costs - Amtrak Commuter Pass / Monthly Pass for the Philly-NYC Commuter.

2014 pricing and details for the Amtrak 'Multi-Ride' option are below. The Amtrak 'Multi-Ride Ticket' is the best option for anyone considering commuting or currently commuting between 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and Penn Station New York City-Manhattan on Amtrak. Financially it's the best Amtrak deal for the regular PHL-NYC commuter, and it is the most convenient since you don't have to buy an individual ticket for each train. You can just hop on nearly any train you want.

From the Amtrak site: "Multi-Ride Tickets, which allow you to ride multiple times within a set amount of time, are available in monthly, ten-ride, six-ride and two-ride options. Multi-Ride Tickets are not accepted on all routes. Read the Multi-Ride Tickets terms and conditions for travel, reservation and ticket requirements."

These prices I got today from the site and are between stations PHL and NYP:
$1,350.00 One Monthly Ticket The monthly ticket is valid for unlimited travel for an entire calendar month.

$600.00 One Ten-Ride Ticket The ten-ride ticket is valid for ten rides within a 45-day period.

In June 2011 the costs were $1,260.00 and $560.00 respectively. That's less than a 10% increase over three years. Amtrak ridership keeps increasing, if people are willing to pay, then prices will continue to increase.

You cannot take any Acela trains with these passes, but you can take most Northeast Regional trains. Click here to see what trains you can take with the Monthly Ticket or Ten-Ride Ticket.

Click here for more info on the Amtrak website about Multi-Ride tickets.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

CBS: "Christie On The Defensive As Commuters Gripe About Mass Transit Delays"

CBS story about "Christie On The Defensive As Commuters Gripe About Mass Transit Delays" due to his cancellation of ARC (Access to the Region's Core), a project that would have created a new tunnel under the Hudson River for trains and helped improve train service into and out of Manhattan (Christie killed ARC in 2010).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Philly Inquirer "Amtrak's on-time performance runs off the rails"

I like stories that give specifics of Amtrak performance particularly along the NEC, hard numbers for on-time arrival percentages are not easy to find. 

Article Highlights:

* Amtrak trains have been late nearly 30 percent of the time in the past 12 months, considerably worse than the year before.

* Amtrak says the issue is that most of its routes operate on tracks owned and controlled by freight railroads. And a federal-court decision last year - which is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court - undercut Amtrak's ability to compel freight operators to give priority to passenger trains.

* In the 12 months ending in June, only two of 33 Amtrak routes met the railroad's nationwide goal of 85.5 percent on-time performance.

* In the eight months ending in May, Amtrak's on-time record was 73.6 percent, down from 85.1 percent in the same period a year earlier. And June was worse than May on 24 of 33 routes.

* Acela Express trains were on time just 76 percent of the time in the eight months ending in May, compared to 89.3 percent during the same period a year earlier.

* In June, Acela on-time performance fell to 72.9 percent.

* Northeast Regional trains were on time 76 percent of the time for the first eight months of fiscal 2014, compared to 86.7 percent in the same period in fiscal 2013.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Amtrak Looking To Boost Acela Express Capacity, Speeds

Jason Rabinowitz at Forbes wrote an article stating that Amtrak said it has issued a RFP to "acquire new trainsets to supplement and eventually replace its aging Acela Express." The Acela Express runs along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and is operating near capacity and often sells out before and after major holidays.

The RFP seeks up to 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets capable of meeting or exceeding current Acela trip-times on the existing NEC infrastructure. Amtrak is also looking to increase the passenger capacity of each trainset by 40 percent, or 120 passengers. 

"The Northeast Corridor needs more high-speed rail capacity to help move the American economy forward," said President and CEO Joseph Boardman. "More and more people are choosing Amtrak for travel between Washington, New York and Boston. New equipment means more seats and more frequent departures to help meet that growing demand."

This is great news, Amtrak is adapting to meet higher demand, this is good for the NEC and good for the economy.

These three cities account for half of Amtrak ridership article and map showing Amtrak usage is dominated by the New York to DC route, which connects the two highest-ridership stations and has #3 Philadelphia in between them. Those three cities accounted for over 18 million boardings in 2013, over half Amtrak's total ridership.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Amtrak Northeast Corridor Acela Plan now 160 mph, was 220 mph in early 2013

Amtrak issued a draft specifications for new trains to replace existing Acela's calling for 160 mph, not  220 mph Amtrak had said prior in January 2013.

Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority in Jan announced they were jointly seeking proposals for trains that could run at 220 miles an hour on the West Coast and the East Coast. California still wants 220-m.p.h. trains for its planned high-speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Acela travels up to 150 mph over a short stretch, but the top speed between NY and DC is 135 mph. The train's avg speed is much lower; over the approximately 300 mile trip between Philadelphia and Boston, the Acela averages 64 mph.

Improving Amtrak train performance will be incremental. The service I hope will get better and faster over time. This seems to be the case so movement in the right direction, even smallish improvements, is good and must be encouraged.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New York City bound Amtrak train ends up in Philadelphia suburbs

An Amtrak train headed to New York City ended up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Train #644 missed a signal after leaving Philadelphia's 30th Street station

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Amtrak Boarding Madness" from The Economist

A story from The Economist about why Amtrak does not allow people to stand on the platform at Penn Station before trains pull-in. The reasons provided by Amtrak as noted in the story are quite tepid. You can stand on the platform at 30th Street Station and at any subway stop in any city you stand on the platform waiting for the train, so why not at Penn Station for Amtrak. The Amtrak Blog implies it is "illegal" to stand on the platform but did not note a specific law. 

My guess is that probably for Penn Station Amtrak just wants to make sure everybody has a ticket before they get on the train. This was never too big a deal for me. As a commuter I knew where to board with minimal lines and how to avoid those tourists with huge bags who were always slow, so I never had an issue getting on sufficiently quick. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Former Amtrak President David Gunn Still Hates Moynihan Station"

A New York Observer article by Stephen Jacob Smith notes how "Former Amtrak President David Gunn Still Hates Moynihan Station".

I like the plan to convert the Post Office/Farley Building to be Moynihan Station and replace Penn Station. David Gunn has some important points though about the drawbacks to the plan that the Observer clearly notes:

"From a transportation point of view it makes no sense." For passengers coming from the 1/2/3 trains, "what the Farley Building [Moynihan Station] does, is make you walk from Seventh Avenue all the way across Eighth Avenue. You'll have to go under the Eighth Avenue subway, then climb up to the [new] head house, which is to the west of Eighth Avenue, over towards Ninth Avenue."

Mr. Gunn noted that New Jersey Transit built a concourse that empties out on Seventh Avenue, reflecting its closer proximity to Manhattan's center of gravity and most of its north-south subway lines. One way to accommodate a head house at the old Farley Post Office would be to simply continue to allow passengers to board at the current station. "But [the real estate concerns] didn't want us to let people on at the old Penn Station, because I think the real estate developers had shops they wanted people to patronize at the [new] Farley [Moynihan Station] head house [that will replace Penn Station]"

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Amtrak's annual losses at lowest level since 1975

Courier Post Online story about Amtrak finances for 2012, highlights:

Amtrak's fiscal 2012 $361 million operating loss (year ending Sept. 30) was down 19 percent from 2011 and the lowest total since 1975. Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman said this is a sign of progress.

Boardman laid out an agenda for 2013 that includes delivery of the first of 70 new electric locomotives and 130 long-distance passenger cars, expansion of the Acela service in the Northeast with an additional New York-Washington round trip, and beginning the work necessary to acquire new high-speed trains.  The new locomotives will be easier to maintain and more energy efficient, using regenerative braking to feed energy back into the power grid.

Amtrak trains carried 31.2 million passengers in the 2012 fiscal year , the highest annual ridership since in 1971.

Amtrak showing improved finances and ridership are great signs, they need to invest to make the system more efficient and expand the service as the economy improves.