Monday, May 24, 2010

The Economist: Amtrak's WiFi failures

The Economist Blog has a post with the headline "Amtrak's WiFi failures" and it goes on to state this point among others: "None of the price-conscious customers—including loads of business travellers—who have defected to BoltBus or Megabus over the past few years are going to come back to Amtrak just because it put WiFi on Acela. If Amtrak did decide to enter the twenty-first century and install WiFi on all its trains, it might be a different story."

I found this blog post to be ignorant. I've taken BoltBus multiple times and believe me it ain't used by business travelers. It's mostly young people or folks on personal travel not looking to get someplace cheaply. Business travelers will use Amtrak since it is much nicer and they'll pay more since it's not money out of their own pocket. Amtrak is losing those young folks and economy travelers which I hope they can try to staunch but it'll be tough to beat a $15 ticket from New York to Boston and still make money; I mean my Chinese delivery cost me $15 the other night. Anyway the Economist blog post missed the point I feel in that the real issue is that the WiFi roll-out across all of Amtrak has been slow. This has given the bus services a very good leg up on Amtrak and now those people who defected to the buses will not come back to Amtrak for personal travel. I am one of those people. Why pay $60 to get to Boston from NYC for personal travel when the bus is $15? I will however use Amtrak for business travel.

So the title of "Amtrak's WiFi failures" is just silly. It's not a failure but it has been slow. Amtrak had to pilot the WiFi roll out so they chose Acela, a fine place to start if you ask me; and they do have a plan to roll out WiFi across all Amtrak services even though the post gives the impression this is not the case. I do hope Amtrak can pick up the pace of the Amtrak wide roll out.


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