Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Amtrak to woo riders with discount fares

Amtrak last week announced that it will cut fares on Northeast regional trains by up to 25 percent during the summer in an effort to boost ridership. From June 2 through Sept. 3, Amtrak will offer passengers 25 percent off the lowest published coach fare on Northeast regional trains. Reservations are required and must be made at least 14 days in advance.

I'm a fan of Amtrak adopting pricing promotions to boost traffic but I don't like the two week advance purchase thing here. Why not make it a 2 day advance purchase? Or a floating reduction kind of plan; if you book 2 weeks in advance get 25% off, 1 week in advance 15% off, 2 days in advance 10% off. I'm assuming many Amtrak trips are fairly spontaneous and a majority of trips are booked a few days or less in advance. This will benefit the planners but I don't see this boosting ridership all that much and I'm sure there are lots of empty seats on Amtrak so why not adopt a more aggressive approach to fill those empty seats? If not, then Amtrak should cut capacity to save costs until ridership picks up again.


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