Toledo Talk

Amtrak

Any thoughts on taking Amtrak from Toledo to the East Coast?

I tried searching TT, but most of the treads seemed specifically related to issues with trains between Toledo & Chicago.

created by mom2 on Mar 31, 2015 at 07:29:42 am     Other     Comments: 20

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I took Amtrak Toledo to NYC in December. It was on time to New York and 3 hours delayed coming back. Train leaves Toledo at 2:30 am so you're up all night (hard to sleep on the train). Return train leaves New York at 4:30 pm and again you are up all night. It was super to get off the train and walk right to your hotel though!

posted by MaryCooksalot on Mar 31, 2015 at 08:11:48 am     #  

I've never ridden Amtrak, but my son has to make a college visit trip to NYC so this thread made me go look at Amtrak for that trip. I couldn't believe what I saw, no wonder Amtrak is losing money:

Amtrak trip to NYC (on my dates) $462 with a 15+ hour trip there, 14+ hour trip back.

Megabus trip to NYC (on my dates) $260 with a 12 hour trip there and back (the bus is faster than the train!)

And if I would have been able to plan the trip more in advance, picking a date in August:

Amtrak is $360

Megabus is $90

Wow.

Anyway, Mom2, ever think about Megabus? The Toledo bus stop is on UT campus, off of Dorr Street entrance.

posted by MsArcher on Mar 31, 2015 at 09:04:40 am     #   1 person liked this

We took it to NYC back in 2002. We were upgraded to a sleeper car for a small amount. I didn't mind the length of the trip given the fact that I don't sleep well in any moving vehicle anyway, and I like being able to move around. That particular trip was pretty cool because it was my first visit to NYC and coming out of Penn Station smack in the middle of Manhattan was surreal for me. I don't recall our arrival/departure being significantly delayed in either direction. It seems that the bulk of the delay issues are that corridor between Toledo and Chicago.

As MrsArcher said, Megabus is another option and definitely more economical. My son takes it frequently. However, I've yet to pick him up on time, so keep in mind that they seem to frequently run behind as well. Also, the Toledo stop has been moved over to the Scott Park campus.

posted by valbee on Mar 31, 2015 at 09:43:09 am     #  

I thought about taking Amtrak to the West coast, riding a sleeper car all the way. The thing that put me off wasn't the cost, but the fear of picking up parasites such as lice or, worse yet, bedbugs. Once the bedbugs get hold of you, you'll play hell getting rid of them. Plus, the bugs are very prolific in NYC.

The Megabus is cheaper, faster and comfortable. The view from the upper deck is nice, and I understand that they offer Wi-Fi on the bus.

The downside to the Megabus is that their schedule is more of a guideline than an absolute rule. I've seen the bus arrive 30 minutes late, and I've also seen it arrive 20 minutes early and leave 10 minutes early - meaning that you can be on time and miss the bus. Main Lady and her three little darlings take the Megabus all the time and seem to enjoy it - which would suggest the bus is full of moonbats. So if you are a gun owner whose political preferences lean to the right, either pack your gat or keep quiet on the bus - they might put you off somewhere in Podunk, IL or Nowhere, IN, sans luggage and money.

posted by madjack on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:05:14 am     #  

Didn't realize they moved the Toledo stop again. I've taken three round trips to Chicago on Megabus, and all of them were ontime, but that has been a few years ago.

posted by MsArcher on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:06:01 am     #   1 person liked this

Wow, Mrs Archer, your dates must be in demand.

I can get round trip Amtrak tickets for my family of 4 for under $500 total on our dates!

$270 each way for 4 tickets. With AAA discount, the round trip is $486.

posted by mom2 on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:14:50 pm     #   1 person liked this

That's 2 adult tickets, 2 kids under 12 in the family of 4.

Apparently kids 2-12 travel for half price with adult ticket purchase.

posted by mom2 on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:24:43 pm     #  

I went to Boston on amtrak and paid about 350 round trip back before winter

posted by lfrost2125 on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:44:37 pm     #  

Sorry my wife and I went, so that was 350 for 2 round--trip tickets

posted by lfrost2125 on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:45:28 pm     #  

mom2 posted at 12:14:50 PM on Mar 31, 2015:

Wow, Mrs Archer, your dates must be in demand.

I can get round trip Amtrak tickets for my family of 4 for under $500 total on our dates!

$270 each way for 4 tickets. With AAA discount, the round trip is $486.

Should have been clearer; my prices were for two adults (sorry, I may have to let him go to college alone but he sure isn't going on a trip to NYC by himself until I have to let him!)

posted by MsArcher on Mar 31, 2015 at 01:01:22 pm     #   3 people liked this

Ah, that makes more sense.

I know there can be some variation in price based on travel dates, but I couldn't believe it would be enough of a variation where one ticket would cost almost as much as I'd pay for a family of 4.

The half price tickets for kids under 12 makes a big difference. It's an affordable option for us that way. Not so much if we had to pay 4 full price tickets.

Plane tickets would have been a little over $1,000.

Driving and parking in NYC would have cost almost $500. (We have older cars and would have rented for a road trip.)

$486 to go right into Penn Station, which is blocks from our hotel, is sounding like a decent alternative.

posted by mom2 on Mar 31, 2015 at 01:12:29 pm     #  

Eek...I checked Megabus out of curiosity to see what the rates would be.

On our travel dates, Megabus would be over $900. And no reserved seats are available for the return trip.

I'm leaning towards Amtrak after looking at the options.

posted by mom2 on Mar 31, 2015 at 01:35:13 pm     #   1 person liked this

After riding trains around Europe, I so want to like Amtrak. I really really do.

But their pricing structure makes no sense to me sometimes. There's no way I am paying the same price for a 14 hour train ride that I would pay for a 2 hour flight (and in a lot of instances, the time doesn't matter to me...I would take the more relaxing travel mode over an airport--but not at the same price).

Trains are not airplanes. There are only so many seats that can be fit on a plane (although the airlines continually try to break the laws of physics and my kneecaps with new seat arrangements). Train sold out? Bullshit, add another coach car/sleeper car. Problem solved. And, you could probably keep a reasonable price point for travel. There seem to be a ton of idled cars in Chicago any time I am in Union Station.

Then there's the issue of heading to our train barn during the overnight hours to catch a train...groan. Doesn't exactly help (but with fewer than a handful of flights out of our airport each day, I guess the train doesn't look so bad...).

I've never seen Megabus prices so insane, as mentioned in this thread. I travelled back and forth between Kansas City and Toledo quite a bit in the summer of 2011 and took the Megabus each time. I think the highest fare I paid back then was $40 one way, thanks to booking in advance. Train fare was always something crazy like $250 each way. For that price, I would have driven to Detroit, parked in the big blue lot, and flown direct on Southwest or Delta.

I like the sleeper cars on Amtrak. Got to say I got friendlier service when I rode in the Northeast, but they are used to a different clientele travelling between DC and Boston. I've had some rude people and some great people on the rides through the midwest. All depends.

posted by oldhometown on Mar 31, 2015 at 07:25:55 pm     #  

I just booked my wife's and my ticket to go out to Boston in Nov. Flying was 1,064 . Got Amtrak for $368 round trip. I'll deal with the long train trip as long as I don't have to deal with airports or flying.

posted by lfrost2125 on Mar 31, 2015 at 08:41:09 pm     #  

I took Amtrak a couple times to Chicago and never again. ONLY thing I liked about Amtrak was free parking.

Every time except once the train was delayed (and we are talking delays of two to three hours, not a half hour). Nothing at all to do at the Toledo station if you are delayed. At Chicago you are at least at Union station.

The tracks are owned by another company (I believe it's Conrail) so their trains always have priority. Last time I took Amtrak I said never again because there some kind of switching problem and the trip took nine hours between Chicago and here with the time we were stopped on the tracks. I could have driven to Detroit, flown to London and cleared passport control in less time:) And the snack car isn't open the entire time they close at night. So if the snack car closes at midnight and the 8 p.m. train doesn't leave until 11 the snack car still closes at Midnight and you are stuck with no place to buy food at on the train as well.

If the trains to the east coast are anything like to Chicago, I would avoid it. And the ride is a lot longer to NYC or boston or DC.

You can find reasonable fares to the east coast if you are flexible. I can usually get Detroit to NYC or Boston for $240ish round trip and it's only a little over an hour in the air. If the flight gets messed up there are other alternatives (i.e. if you are flying out of LGA, they can reroute you out of JFK or EWR and there are a lot of flights and airlines doing that route). If you are on Amtrak you are pretty much screwed if there is a long delay.

I wish the US had decent rail service. I take Eurorail between London and Paris once a year for a day trip and the longest any of those trains have been delayed is 15 minutes and they are usually running right on schedule. Same with Via between Windsor and Toronto. Very rare they aren't on schedule and if the train is more than an hour late arriving you get a certain of your fare paid back in a credit on future travel and if it's four or more hours late arriving you get 100 of your fare back in a voucher for future travel--if Amtrak did that on late trains they be broke on just the Toledo/Chicago delays;)

posted by jamesteroh on Mar 31, 2015 at 09:08:51 pm     #  

Chicago is the nation's largest and busiest railroad hub. 15 Amtrak lines alone terminate at Union Station. Traffic may be a factor in delays. This may not impact an eastbound traveler leaving Toledo as much as it would impact someone inbound to Chicago.

I wonder if the same amount of passenger and freight traffic pass between London and Paris each day. Or Windsor and Toronto. I don't know the total volume of each. Geography seems to place Chicago at an advantage in the accumulated convergence of so many of distinct track and routes and all the switching that goes with it.

posted by justread on Apr 01, 2015 at 06:30:40 am     #  

I love Amtrak. We once took two toddlers all the way from Toledo to Dallas. We had a great time. I've also traveled east to Philly, Washington and New York. Every year we've traveled to Chicago. The train is always on time on the way back, but the train out of Toledo is often 2-3 hours late with numerous 'pull-overs' on the way for freight trains-which have the right of way. The trip to Chicago is under $100 dollars per person round trip. However, this coming June, I'm going by Megabus for the first time. $32.00 round trip. It will be interesting to compare.

posted by Toledostrong on Apr 01, 2015 at 08:45:37 am     #  

Windsor and Toronto does four roundtrips a day on their train (another thing I like about this trip there are various times during the day to take the trip, it's impossible to do a weekend trip on the train to Chicago unless you take Friday off). Toronto probably has much train traffic as Chicago. Not sure about Paris, but I am sure London has as much train traffic as Chicago.

If a train is late arriving in Toledo by three hours from Chicago, then it would impact someone travelling eastbound.

The disadvantage that Amtrak has is that the tracks are owned by the freight companies. I wish we had better Acela service to NYC and Chicago from here with convenient times and I would take Amtrak more as opposed to driving to DTW to fly.

Someone from my church takes Amtrak to Oregon every year to visit her mother and loves it. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of free time to spare when travelling.

posted by jamesteroh on Apr 01, 2015 at 04:19:12 pm     #  

Amtrak is great if you have the time. We've taken it to Virginia Beach (whole family) and New York. Planning a few other trips west in the future.

You have to consider the journey part of the adventure, if your only goal is to get to the destination as fast as possible then it's not for you.

posted by breeman on Apr 02, 2015 at 07:02:34 am     #  

Amtrak is great if you have the time. We've taken it to Virginia Beach (whole family) and New York. Planning a few other trips west in the future.

You have to consider the journey part of the adventure, if your only goal is to get to the destination as fast as possible then it's not for you.

posted by breeman on Apr 02, 2015 at 07:02:34 am     #