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Posted: 12/10/2011 7:09:40 AM EST
Going home for the holidays. Will be traveling from Pittsburgh to the suburbs north of NYC. Looking into various travel options as my beat up old Pathfinder only gets 13 mpg and I was shocked at how expensive Amtrak is.

Megabus will take me from Pittsburgh to Manhattan, round trip for $64, 8 hours each way. Plus additional $20 for fare to get to the burbs.

US Airways will get me from PIT to LGA, round trip $193, less than 2 hours each way. Plus additional $15 or so for airport shuttle parking.

Driving my car will take 7-8 hours each way and run about $240 in gas. No TSA rules though and I don't have to sit next to a random stranger.

Amtrak is the real winner here though. 12 hours each way and the cost? $195. Plus garage parking fees. WTF?

Longer and much more expensive than Megabus and cost is about the same with flying, but takes 6+ times as long. Not seeing any advantages over the competition. Unless I was on the no fly list, why would I choose Amtrak over the airlines. Even then, why not choose Megabus over Amtrak. Both offer wi-fi and larger seating, but Megabus can get me there 4 hours quicker for more than $100 cheaper.

Honestly, I'll probably end up driving simply because its a hassle to fly with a million gifts and if someone gives me something that is carry on unfriendly then I need to check my baggage, but I do know that no matter what, I sure as hell won't choose Amtrak.


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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:17:01 AM EST
From DC to NYC it's no cheaper than flying until you factor in the cost of getting to/from LGA and Manhattan

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:18:55 AM EST
Why do you think they have such huge subsidies and are still barely limping along? The Bos-Wash corridor is really the only place that makes sense for them to run at the moment. But don't worry, let the government "invest" billions of dollars on some "high-speed" rail (really 80 or so mph) and they will all turn around, right? right?

And that 12 hours is *scheduled*, not actual... Somewhere online there was a site that tracked their on-time performance, it is quite humorous at times on some routes.
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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:22:13 AM EST
Just drive; it's not a bad drive at all.
You'll be much happier driving yourself w/o stinky people and the ability to stop whenever you like, than the extra $150 would ever bring you



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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:28:17 AM EST
I took an Amtrak from Huntington, WV to Charlottesville VA one summer. It was a nice ride and relaxing, but took about twice as long as driving would have. It was a hundred bucks or so.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:29:48 AM EST
Rent a car.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:31:12 AM EST
The Dallas to Chicago route is cheaper than flying, but takes a long ass time.
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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:32:29 AM EST
I can't believe that people actually use Amtrack for real transportation. I rode Amtrack from Los Angeles to San Diego years ago when my children were little for "laughs & giggles," it took like 3.5 hours. I could've driven there in ~2 hours, and on the return trip, we had to wait for a friend train to pass. I will never ride on one again. We spent $75 each adult and half fare for each of my 3 children. And the taxpayer kicked in like +20% to boot.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:37:47 AM EST

Originally Posted By warlord:
I can't believe that people actually use Amtrack for real transportation. I rode Amtrack from Los Angeles to San Diego years ago when my children were little for "laughs & giggles," it took like 3.5 hours. I could've driven there in ~2 hours, and on the return trip, we had to wait for a friend train to pass. I will never ride on one again. We spent $75 each adult and half fare for each of my 3 children. And the taxpayer kicked in like +20% to boot.

My parents did the exact same thing for me when I was little. Same experience, and I have not been on Amtrak again. I will gladly take Metrolink to downtown LA though, as I HATE driving in downtown and trying to park there..

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:52:04 AM EST

Originally Posted By slimslade:
Rent a car.


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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:59:27 AM EST
I have to go to Shitcago once a year on business. Amtrak is the only way to go. It is definately worth the $$$$ to not have to deal with Shitcago traffic ( i.e. 4 lanes of crazy people driving 90 mph for 100 feet, slam on the brakes, and then not move for 15 minutes....then repeat over and over again ) and parking. Cost like $30 to park downtown the last time I drove, plus gas. Round trip fare for Amtrak was $46 I think.

I wouldn't want to do the Amtrak thing regularly but for my occaisional trips, its a good option. YMMV

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 8:46:14 AM EST
Originally Posted By Justin-Kase:

Originally Posted By slimslade:
Rent a car.




Cost of a 4 day car rental, plus gas would put me back just a hair more than driving my own car out there. It would save my car some 800+ miles though.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 8:55:54 AM EST
I took Amtrak from DC to NYC last Christmas. Slow, too-frequent stops, power going off all the time, etc. On the way back it was horrendously overbooked, people standing in the aisles, etc. I won't do it again... I'd sooner drive.

We should let Amtrak die. Passenger rail just doesn't make sense in most of this country. As someone pointed out, the Boston to Washington line is probably feasible. Let's auction off the trains and cars and rail access to a private concern and let them succeed or fail. If they fail, that means we really don't need it at all.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 9:04:26 AM EST


Passenger rail really only makes sense on long overnight corridors, with all roomette consists and auto-train capability, and with limited stops. Everywhere and everyhow else it pales in comparison to the other available modes of transportation.


FYI - the Northeast corridor does not make money, it is actually a greater drain on taxpayer dollars than Amtrak's LD routes. A few years ago Congress tried to transfer ownership of the NEC to the northeast states, but the latter would have none of it since it meant the loss of the federal subsidy.
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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 9:08:10 AM EST
Jackson, MS to NOLA is cheaper than driving and you can drink on the train.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 9:11:54 AM EST
If your time is worth anything to you, and your time is worth more than $15/hr, fly. If you like driving, then drive.

I would under no circumstances take Aktrak or a bus.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 9:20:02 AM EST
From Saint Paul MN to Minot ND. The nice part is amtrack runs at night so in theory you could sleep on the train.

Flight ~$700
Amtrack ~$130
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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:10:07 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/10/2011 5:14:09 PM EST by warlord]
Originally Posted By The_Gooch:

Originally Posted By warlord:
I can't believe that people actually use Amtrack for real transportation. I rode Amtrack from Los Angeles to San Diego years ago when my children were little for "laughs & giggles," it took like 3.5 hours. I could've driven there in ~2 hours, and on the return trip, we had to wait for a friend train to pass. I will never ride on one again. We spent $75 each adult and half fare for each of my 3 children. And the taxpayer kicked in like +20% to boot.

My parents did the exact same thing for me when I was little. Same experience, and I have not been on Amtrak again. I will gladly take Metrolink to downtown LA though, as I HATE driving in downtown and trying to park there..
Metrolink in So. calif is a whole different ball game.

I took my family to the San Diego Zoo for a day trip on a lark, planned it on Friday nite. Left my house at 5:30am with two sleepy eyed kids, and got to he SD Zoo at ~8am. We at dinner and left SD at lik 7, and got home at like 10pm. Long day, but diffeent.

ETA: I hear you about getting around downtown L.A. It is a PITA at best. I did jury duty there a few years ago. Rode Metrorail there for $5 rount trip. Best $5 I ever spent.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:29:04 PM EST
Every year I have a conference I attend on the East Coast. One year I decided to do something different and take AMTRAK. WOW! It was going to take almost 48 hours to get from OKC to NYC and around 3 grand.
How in the hell does that busines stay going?
I rode it last year from NYC to Boston and back. Why are there guys on the train punching tickets? That is 100 year old technology. In Europe I buy a ticket and go thru the turn style like you do on the subway, there's not a person on the train being paid to punch tickets.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:38:35 PM EST
Your government subsidies at work!

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:39:18 PM EST
KC to Chicago in 7 hours and 90 bucks roundtrip.....subscribe to Amtrak savers program...its a great way to travel

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:40:02 PM EST
Originally Posted By E-Mag:
From Saint Paul MN to Minot ND. The nice part is amtrack runs at night so in theory you could sleep on the train.

Flight ~$700
Amtrack ~$130


Yea, to Milwaukee AND back would run you about 200-230 bucks from Minot. Would be my only option to get home if I decided to work the oil fields in ND and the cost isn't bad at all.

Most other situations Amtrak would be my last thought though. I didn't even consider it when I was looking at the job situation out there till another poster(I believe it was you, E-Mag) pointed it out to me.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:46:38 PM EST
Greensboro, NC to Richmond, VA $50 for business class.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:51:52 PM EST
drive .... gas is cheap these days

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 5:58:13 PM EST
I'm taking the auto train to Orlando soon for $1800 round trip. 2 adults, 2 kids, private bedroom with bathroom, and large vehicle. Why not just drive? Because I have 2 very young children and don't need to hear them cry for 14 hours in the car! They can bounce off the walls in the bedroom while their parents take turns drinking in the dining car. We can't fly because we need the van full of kid crap, car seats, etc in Florida.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 6:03:24 PM EST
On the right routes, its great. Here in the 95 corridor, its fine.

When you start getting onto lines dominated by freight, the time goes way up.

When you start changing timezones, the cost goes way up. Short, straight-line trips are best.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 6:07:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By slimslade:
Rent a car.

this. a relative rented a car for a week and it seemed cheap ––like 139 bucks or something

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 6:10:35 PM EST

Originally Posted By Oofda:
I'm taking the auto train to Orlando soon for $1800 round trip. 2 adults, 2 kids, private bedroom with bathroom, and large vehicle. Why not just drive? Because I have 2 very young children and don't need to hear them cry for 14 hours in the car! They can bounce off the walls in the bedroom while their parents take turns drinking in the dining car. We can't fly because we need the van full of kid crap, car seats, etc in Florida.

that's crazy talk

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 6:20:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By 69cutlass:
Originally Posted By slimslade:
Rent a car.

this. a relative rented a car for a week and it seemed cheap ––like 139 bucks or something


When I graduated from boot camp my parents rented a car to drive from WI to San Diego, CA. Cheapest option by far. I think the train would have been around 1,300-1,400 bucks ONE WAY.

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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 7:55:02 PM EST
I considered it when my now ex and I were kicking around the idea of going to upstate NY to visit her family up there, but we decided it'd be cheaper to fly into Buffalo, but the trip never came to fruition.

It was also a possibility when we were considering going to Detroit to visit that group of her family.
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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 8:02:03 PM EST
I won't ride the train. I have a friend who is legally blind and takes public transport and this last summer he decided to do the train to get to his folks' place in Texas. over 2 days in the train and a few dollars less than flying.

Going more than a day with NO shower and not being able to sleep well.

No thanks!!

It's FLYING for me.


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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 8:20:42 PM EST
Originally Posted By Lefthandpath:
Going home for the holidays. Will be traveling from Pittsburgh to the suburbs north of NYC. Looking into various travel options as my beat up old Pathfinder only gets 13 mpg and I was shocked at how expensive Amtrak is.

Megabus will take me from Pittsburgh to Manhattan, round trip for $64, 8 hours each way. Plus additional $20 for fare to get to the burbs.

US Airways will get me from PIT to LGA, round trip $193, less than 2 hours each way. Plus additional $15 or so for airport shuttle parking.

Driving my car will take 7-8 hours each way and run about $240 in gas. No TSA rules though and I don't have to sit next to a random stranger.

Amtrak is the real winner here though. 12 hours each way and the cost? $195. Plus garage parking fees. WTF?

Longer and much more expensive than Megabus and cost is about the same with flying, but takes 6+ times as long. Not seeing any advantages over the competition. Unless I was on the no fly list, why would I choose Amtrak over the airlines. Even then, why not choose Megabus over Amtrak. Both offer wi-fi and larger seating, but Megabus can get me there 4 hours quicker for more than $100 cheaper.

Honestly, I'll probably end up driving simply because its a hassle to fly with a million gifts and if someone gives me something that is carry on unfriendly then I need to check my baggage, but I do know that no matter what, I sure as hell won't choose Amtrak.





Yes, as yo noted, people still ride Amtrac.









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Link Posted: 12/10/2011 8:23:40 PM EST
people that are scared to fly

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Link Posted: 12/11/2011 11:47:39 AM EST
Originally Posted By bdub:
On the right routes, its great. Here in the 95 corridor, its fine.

When you start getting onto lines dominated by freight, the time goes way up.

When you start changing timezones, the cost goes way up. Short, straight-line trips are best.


The 95 corridor is great.

As a kid I used it to ride from south west CT to NYC several times a month. Where I grew up was a town made up of NYC commuters and the train station was always packed early in the morning. Anything not bordering the Atlantic though....

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Link Posted: 12/11/2011 12:32:39 PM EST

Originally Posted By E-Mag:
From Saint Paul MN to Minot ND. The nice part is amtrack runs at night so in theory you could sleep on the train.

Flight ~$700
Amtrack ~$130

The family and I rode from Seattle to Philadelphia and back again. We had a private sleeper room. Was awesome but expensive.

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Link Posted: 12/11/2011 7:50:35 PM EST

Originally Posted By Towely:
Originally Posted By E-Mag:
From Saint Paul MN to Minot ND. The nice part is amtrack runs at night so in theory you could sleep on the train.

Flight ~$700
Amtrack ~$130


Yea, to Milwaukee AND back would run you about 200-230 bucks from Minot. Would be my only option to get home if I decided to work the oil fields in ND and the cost isn't bad at all.

Most other situations Amtrak would be my last thought though. I didn't even consider it when I was looking at the job situation out there till another poster(I believe it was you, E-Mag) pointed it out to me.
It was and I would have never thought of it but one of my relatives told me about it.
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Link Posted: 12/12/2011 4:18:58 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/12/2011 4:21:19 AM EST by stockshift]
Originally Posted By bdub:
On the right routes, its great. Here in the 95 corridor, its fine.


Yep. I can get from PHL to NYP (Philly to New York) in 90 minutes for $36 (one way). Stay on the high speed rails and things work very smoothly. I'd rather take Amtrak to NYP or DC than drive.

Edit: alternatives are cheaper but nowhere near as fast. If I take SEPTA/NJ Transit not only do I spend 2.5 hours on the train (one hour more), I also have to sit outside and wait for a transfer from SEPTA to NJT at Trenton, just to save $10 on a ticket. The Megabus routes are about the same speed, sometimes even slower because they have to deal with downtown Philly and NYC traffic.

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Link Posted: 12/12/2011 4:26:55 AM EST
A while back, I was going to visit a friend outside of DC. Figured I may see what it would cost to hop a train up to NYC to visit the younger sibling, but DAMN. It cost about twice as much as flying.
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Link Posted: 12/12/2011 4:30:10 AM EST
[Last Edit: 12/12/2011 4:30:30 AM EST by Rockracer]
I send my daughter Amtrak tickets when she visits me.
Cheaper then bus, driving or flying for the route.
You have to be selective about what time and day to go.

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Link Posted: 12/12/2011 4:31:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By Lefthandpath:
Originally Posted By Justin-Kase:

Originally Posted By slimslade:
Rent a car.




Cost of a 4 day car rental, plus gas would put me back just a hair more than driving my own car out there. It would save my car some 800+ miles though.

The other advantage is that in the event of a breakdown your not 200 miles from home trying to a repair. Call rental company get new ride delivered.

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Link Posted: 12/12/2011 4:35:07 AM EST
Originally Posted By NoVaGator:
From DC to NYC it's no cheaper than flying until you factor in the cost of getting to/from LGA and Manhattan

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From Richmond VA to NYC it's almost $200 cheaper than flying.

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