Friday, January 09, 2009

Amtrak Monthly Pass / Amtrak Commuter Pass

[UPDATE: See my post on 2011 Monthly Amtrak Pass costs for the PHL-NYC commuter]

A monthly Amtrak Pass, or as Amtrak calls it a "Multi-Ride Ticket", can be purchased at
  • One Monthly Ticket, valid for unlimited travel for an entire calendar month, between Philadelphia 30th Street Station (PHL) and New York Penn Station (NYP) as of January 2009 is $1,152.00.
  • One Ten-Ride Ticket, valid for ten rides within a 45-day period (same station pair/effective date as above), is $512.00.
At the start of month I gauged how much I needed to commute and bought the monthly or 10 trip accordingly. I bought them at the Amtrak ticket kiosks; Amtrak only recently offered to buy these on their site. Which one I purchased varied but I often bought the monthly. The monthly is the cheapest option if you commute regularly, by regularly I mean 10+ round trips (so 20+ one way trips) in one month (not that either price is hugely economical mind you). Plus you can get on any Regional train with either ticket type without a reservation so they do offer this huge convenience.

There is no monthly or multi-ride option for the Acela. Acela tickets are full price and must be purchased for each individual leg of your trip. Neither of the above ticket types can be used on the Acela, and they'll kick you off if you try and claim ignorance. The Acela is the Amtrak money maker and the conductors enforce that you have a valid Acela ticket.

So the monthly and 10 trip is what Amtrak offers for regular riders. There is no "commuter pass" or any other viable low cost option for regular Amtrak riders. Amtrak seems to discourage commuters with its pricing in my opinion, but that's the way it is and since Amtrak had record revenue and ridership in 2008 I don't think this will change in the near term.

I get this question often and wanted to post this information as it is kind of buried on the site.


  • Thanks for making the assessment process easier (drive to Trenton and rail in or take Amtrak). Too bad it's over a 1k/mo....

    By Blogger Mark Waldo, at 11:38 PM, February 03, 2009  

  • I have been researching this a lot this week since I am looking very seriously at a position that would have me commuting from Trenton to Wilmington (~55mins). I was shocked to see that the Acela rarely stops in Trenton (6:46 am would be great) and that it only cut 9 mins off the total trip. Has anyone made the Amtrak commute on these legs of the NEC? Other that the wireless card/acct what other advice do you generally have about using Amtrak as a regular/daily commute option?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:02 PM, February 04, 2009  

  • A response for Matt in re "commute from Trenton to Wilmington":
    I know of no one that commuted to Wilmington from Trenton via Amtrak but it is clearly doable. I was generally pleased with Amtrak's service though I was very upset with the huge pricing increases they implemented while I was commuting. If you can absorb the cost Amtrak is your best commuting option - Amtrak is reliable overall, they have plenty of trains along the NEC so you can take your pick, and they are by far the fastest option for you. Don't worry about not taking the Acela, the regional trains are fine, I nearly always got a seat and during rush hour; it'll be mostly professionals who just want to get on the train fast, be seated in comfort, and get off fast at their destination.

    By Blogger Guy in NYC, at 7:36 PM, February 04, 2009  

  • I commute daily from Wilmington to Metropark. After trying all options, driving is the cheapest and most predictable. Driving to take nj transit added 40 minutes to my trip and Amtrak is rarely stops at metropark (first one in the morning is 927am!) and ridiculously expensive. It's a shame really. When I took the job I just assumed I'd take the train...and then I liked into it. Good news is I gave a company car and I travel a lot so it's not as bad as it sounds.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:19 AM, December 22, 2009  

  • I know this is kind of an old post, but it's salient to me now. I just wondered if you know whether the monthly ticket prices change throughout the year, for example are they cheaper in summer and more expensive again in fall, or similar?

    By Blogger liz, at 12:26 PM, June 01, 2010  

  • liz,
    Amtrak monthly ticket prices stay the same throughout the year.

    By Blogger Amtrak Track, at 10:58 PM, June 08, 2010  

  • Awesome--thanks!

    By Blogger liz, at 11:05 PM, June 08, 2010  

  • Hey,thanks for creating this blog. So I live in Philly and am thinking of working and commuting to NYC. I don't want to drive but I have not worked out the logistics of public transportation. I was thinking of just doing the Mega Bus or the Bolt bus daily, but they are not always reliable. What is the best option for the Philly NYC commute while keeping cost at bay. The Amtrak monthly unlimited pass is higher than my rent so that's totally not an option!

    By Anonymous NatNice, at 8:03 AM, August 19, 2010  

  • You mention getting kicked off the Acela if you tried using your monthly pass on it. Would the same happen if you boarded a NE Regional that's on the restricted list? I can see that happening fairly easily and genuinely by accident.

    Second question, Amtrak's website doesn't mention business v coach for the monthly pass. It doesn't even offer the option when buying on-line so I assume it's coach only. Would that be correct?

    Thanks for posting this blog. It's been very helpful... certainly more useful than Amtrak's own site. FYI, my new commute is Wilmington to NYC. It's a temporary project and luckily I'm able to expense the travel so it's not a huge deal. But I do want to avoid the $5000/month Acela charge on my personal credit card if I can avoid it. Apart from the wifi, I've not found the NE Regional that much worse than Acela anyway.

    By Anonymous Jon, at 12:26 PM, September 08, 2010  

  • Response for NatNice:
    Amtrak is a ton of money but the most convenient. MegaBus and BoltBus are cheap but I think they’ll take a really long time to get into Manhattan from Philly, like minimum 2.5 hours and probably higher during rush hours. Then getting out at night won’t be a picnic either. It’s just such a pain in the ass to get into NYC via car/bus.

    The cheapest but most viable option for the commute is Septa to NJT. This will take about 2 hours and will still make for long days but it’s half the cost of Amtrak.

    Good luck, all Phi-NYC commuting options will have caveats, choose the least painful one for you.

    By Blogger Guy in NYC, at 12:27 AM, September 23, 2010  

  • Response for Jon:
    Don’t know what you mean by the NE Regional ‘restricted’ list exactly. When I was commuting my monthly pass worked on all NE Regional trains, even the reserved ones. I’m sure this is still the case but call Amtrak to be sure.

    Monthly passes are valid for coach only. You can just sit in biz class and claim ignorance if they bitch to you and ask you to leave. Anyway, there’s no real difference between coach and business class on the Regional trains; a little more leg room but that’s it, no free drinks or better seats or anything. If you want a good Amtrak experience then take Acela and pay the premium, but as you say it’s not worth like 5 times the price of the Regional.

    Commuting from Wilmington to NYC – you’re crazier than Phi-NYC commuters, hope it’s been working out.

    By Blogger Guy in NYC, at 12:37 AM, September 23, 2010  

  • Considering monthly pass from PHL to NYP, anyone know cost of monthly parking?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 AM, September 26, 2010  

  • I recently started working in Baltimore, but live in Philly. I'm considering taking Amtrak. Is there any other option aside from the $1,000 monthly ticket listed on Amtrak's website? It's cheaper to rent a place in the city!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 PM, September 27, 2010  

  • As for monthly parking costs, there are options right at 30th Street station that are probably $250+ for a monthly. A few blocks from 30th St it gets much cheaper but I don't have rates handy.

    As for commuting to Baltimore from Philly, sorry I don't know much about commuting South from Philly. My guess is there are much fewer commuting options for you than going North to NYC. Baltimore is roughly the same distance from Philly as NYC so Amtrak is likely your best bet in terms of getting there quickly and conveniently. Yes, Amtrak is expensive, a drawback for sure. Good luck.

    By Blogger Guy in NYC, at 12:52 AM, October 12, 2010  

  • this is a ridiculous amount of money per month. What are people riding in? trains made of gold. Too much money!!!!!! no way

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 PM, October 16, 2011  

  • I know this blog is old so I hope that people are still connected to it. I'm wondering how the anonymous person did commuting from Philly to Baltimore. I am considering a job in Philly (live in suburb of DC but would take train from BWI). Am I crazy?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:04 AM, April 08, 2012  

  • I work in NYC and currently live in Priceton, NJ. My wife's been offered a job in Wilmington, DE. We have a little daughter and hence it looks like the viable option for us would be to move to Wilmington and then for me to take the Amtrak to NYC. Anyone doing this?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 AM, May 17, 2012  

  • Yes, this is the best amtrak forum yet. With regards to the earlier question on 'restricted' trains on the regional. Yes, I just had the conductor tell me today that my 3.26 pm train does not accept any multirides. This is big news to me since I only accepted this job in Wilmington ( I commute from trenton) because this train was availble. Now I'm really stuck. I'm thinking I will just get on it anyways. Anyone had an experience with this??? Thanks! This is the best/most useful blog ever on amtrak

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 PM, May 24, 2012  

  • Thank you for posting this information it has been very helpful.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:47 AM, December 05, 2012  

  • Seems like im posting something on a dead forum since last year. but thought ill just give it a try.

    I will be commuting from edison to wilmington and not sure Amtrak is my option(crazy expensive) and neither NJ Transit+ SEPTA (takes too long) - finally thinking to take NJTransit from Edison to trenton and Amtrak from trenton to Wilmington - Any idea on how feasible that would be? or any cheaper/better option for my long commute?

    driving is another option but its almost like catching an Amtrak if i consider the gas and Toll.


    By Blogger PM, at 12:07 AM, June 08, 2013  

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