Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Amtrak: Labor talks to resume next week

Story in the Nashua Telegraph about negotiations continuing: "Amtrak said Friday it planned to resume negotiations with nine unions next week to avoid a crippling strike that could affect commuters in New York City"

I've seen no news about an imminent resolution, but it is good that talks will continue.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Boston Braces for Possible Amtrak Strike. A strike more likely to happen?

The Boston Globe has a story about the impact to Boston commuters an Amtrak strike would cause. This has nothing to do with the Philly-NYC commuter but the article noted a couple things that were new to me about this strike situation:

Amtrak workers have been working without a new contract for eight years, receiving only cost-of-living pay increases since 2000. An emergency presidential panel created to avert a strike recommended last week that workers receive a 35 percent raise through 2009, plus tens of millions of dollars in additional back pay for the years without increases. The unions were pleased by the report, but Amtrak would probably need help from Congress to pay for the full increases and has asked for a smaller raise.

This implies that Amtrak would need Congress to allocate money for any back pay and that Amtrak wants the raise percentages to be lower. Can these two matters be resolved by the end of the month? Congress giving up a lot of money and unions agreeing to a lower percentage raise don't sound like things that would get resolved fast.

In a statement, the unions said a strike is one of three possibilities, which also include a negotiated settlement and congressional intervention. David White, a spokesman for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, said the unions have invited Amtrak back to the negotiating table, using the panel's recommendations as a basis.

Interesting to know what the union defines as the three potential outcomes on January 31st. I didn't know that the union asked to meet again with Amtrak, not sure if another meeting has been set.

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Trenton Station to be Improved notes SEPTA Watch Blog

Came across a post in the SEPTA Watch Blog noting that New Jersey Transit would be renovating its Trenton station. The post quotes the New York Times article "New and Improved Stations Top List of Rail Projects to Benefit Riders":

The renovations will triple the size of the Trenton station and add about 6,600 square feet of retail space, said Richard R. Sarles, New Jersey Transit’s executive director. A main focus of the construction is to widen the overpass/concourse area where passengers wait, buy tickets and cross over the tracks to change trains, he said.

This is great as Trenton station was a real mess if you ask me. This station is part of the reason I do not like the SEPTA to NJT option to get to NYC. If this station is made to be more comfortable than this option becomes more palatable. I'm still high on Amtrak as it's the fastest most comfortable option to commute to NYC from Philly.

SEPTA Watch is a nice blog on public transit in the Philly metro area.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

NY Post Article: 'Burbs in Rail Trouble. Amtrak Strike Threatens NJ and LI

The New York Post article 'BURBS IN RAIL TROUBLE AMTRAK STRIKE THREATENS NJ & LI comments how an Amtrak strike would paralyze NY Penn Station. If the strike occurs, LIRR and NJ Transit service to NYC would nearly shut down as Amtrak owns the Penn Station tracks. So a strike by Amtrak unions would put out all commuters to NYC, not just those on Amtrak trains.

The article further notes that a Amtrak strike was "very likely". All NYC commuters need to plan contingencies for Jan 31. Possible contingencies: Chinatown bus? Work from home? Call in 'sick'? Any reader suggestions?

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Amtrak unions say hopeful dispute can be settled

Reuters article about Amtrak unions happy with recommendations Friday by the special presidential board involved in settling their long running contract dispute with Amtrak. This may possibly avoid a strike at the end of January. If the special presidential board recommendations were approved wages would rise by more than a third and workers would get back pay. The board also advised against the railroad's proposal for changing work rules.

The unions seem to be happy with this suggested resolution. Perhaps there will be no impact to Amtrak commuters? With wages increasing by 33% the result would likely be higher fares for commuters at some point later in 2008.

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"Amtrak Workers May Strike At End Of Jan"

Article on (New York affiliate) about the possible Amtrak strike at the end of January 2008. Nothing new in this article that I didn't mention prior but as we get deeper into January I'd say the likelihood of a strike increases significantly.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy 2008! Response to a readers question in re NYC-Philly commute

A reader recently posted this question to me:

"You give a positive impression of the commute Philly-NYC. I am personally considering undertaking NYC-Philly commute 4 times a week for 2 years. For instance, are there are lot of delays? Can you take the express train with the monthly commuter pass?"

I'll give my comments on each part of his question. I get similar questions a couple times a month so I'd like to go into detail

Comment: "You give a positive impression of the commute Philly-NYC"
Response: Yes, Philly-NYC commuting via Amtrak I thought was perfectly fine. Lots of other professional do it though less now since a monthly pass is expensive (over $1,000/month).

Comment: "I am personally considering undertaking NYC-Philly commute 4 times a week for 2 years"
Response: 4 days a week is certainly is doable but if you can get that to 3 days a week you'll be even better off. I found when I commuted 3 days a week or less I was less tired at the end of the work week and a bit more energized during the week. And if you're able try not to do 4 commuting days in a row as I found this to be overly tiring. Maybe go up Mon and Tue, stay at home Wednesday, then up again Thursday and Friday.

Comment: "For instance, are there are lot of delays? "
Response: There are delays but it's quite tolerable overall. It was rare I had delays of more than 20 minutes. You'll have to take 10-15 minute delays in stride though.

Comment: "Can you take the express train with the monthly commuter pass?"
Response: No. Only regional trains. This means you cannot take the Acela trains with the monthly pass. You can upgrade to an Acela train with a monthly for $20 but you have to do this at the teller window, and thus wait in ungodly long lines.