Thursday, August 07, 2008

Philly to NYC Amtrak Monthly Unlimited Pass for $459? This is via the Amtrak USA Rail Pass. Commuting to NYC from Philadelphia now affordable again? Not really...

Amtrak recently opened up the USA Rail Pass option to US citizens. You can see pricing for these Amtrak rail passes here. The 30 day East Rail Pass at $459.00 Peak is less than half the cost of a monthly unlimited between Philly-NYC! This is less than the 10 trip ticket. This is even less than what I was paying for a monthly pass 4 years ago.

Some info from the USA Rail Pass page on the Amtrak website:

"The USA Rail Pass is not intended for use as a commuting pass."

Question: Do I Need Tickets and Reservations?

Answer: Yes. Your USA Rail Pass is not a ticket. When traveling on a USA Rail Pass, you must have a ticket and a reservation for each train you board. You must make reservations and pick up your ticket(s) before boarding any train.

Reservations for train travel should be made as far in advance as possible; seats available for USA Rail Pass passengers are limited on each train. We do not recommend waiting until the day of departure to make your reservations since there is a greater chance that seats allocated for the USA Rail Pass may not be available on your desired train. If your plans are not flexible, non-USA Rail Pass seats may be available at an additional cost.

Question: How Do I Get My Tickets?

Answer: Make Reservations: Travelers from outside of the United States can make reservations prior to arriving in the United States by calling (001) 215-856-7953 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday from 8:30-17:00 EST).If you are already in the United States, call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) and speak to a reservations agent.

Pick-up Pass and Ticket(s): You can pick up your pass and tickets at any staffed Amtrak ticket office in many Amtrak stations by showing your USA Rail Pass or Pass Confirmation Number.

So Amtrak does not explicitly ban commuters from using this pass but clearly they do not want commuters to use this. You also have to make reservations in advance and they seem to limit the number of seats available for USA Rail Pass use. Furthermore it looks like you have to pick up your tickets from an actual Amtrak agent and not via their kiosks. With the 10 trip or monthly you can get on any train you want with no reservations. Getting a ticket from a human Amtrak agent is a killer, those lines at the Amtrak windows at 30th Street Station and Penn Station are massive.

So this really does not look to be a viable option for the Philly-NYC commuter.


  • interesting. thanks for the info. do you know if amtrak guest reward points can be used for a monthly pass? if so, i was thinking about getting a credit card that rewards w/ amtrak points.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:40 PM, August 08, 2008  

  • No, your AGR points cannot be used towards a monthly or 10 trip pass. I did use my AGR credit card to rack up points and convert them to individual tickets to save on my commuting costs. So it is worth getting and using often. You can see my post on leveraging AGR here.

    By Blogger Guy in NYC, at 8:34 PM, August 09, 2008  

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