Anyone recently use Amtrak to Chicago from either Toledo or Ann Arbor?
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Yes. The train was late to arrive, and we wound up in Chicago about three hours later than scheduled. It cost more than driving, and the amenities were ho-hum. The only plus is that we did not have to deal with traffic and parking, but in the future I would rather find a cheap flight to Chi-town than waste my time on Amtrak.
I have a friend in from NYC right now who used Amtrak. No idea how service en route to Chicago is though.
Here in the Midwest the Amtrak trains get bumped in priority to freight trains, which generate more revenue. In something like a dozen recent trips in which I either participated or picked up/dropped off passengers, every single train was late. One time the train carrying the passenger I was picking up was eleven hours late.
Never used Amtrak to get to Chicago, but I have taken the Megabus to Chicago twice. Both times the bus was on time and actually worked out really well.
I have been debating the Chicago Amtrak for a while now too. For the wifey and I, a round trip would be $178. I figure this to be a wash financially when factoring gas, tolls, and $40 per day parking at a Loop hotel. What I don't like is the fact the train is supposed to leave Toledo at 5:30ish in the morning, and is scheduled to arrive back in Toledo at around 2am. Gives you alot of time in Chicago, but DAMN, that's early/late.
For me the travel time is the determining factor if this is a trip that following some sort of schedule (such as a conference or job interview). There are few things in life that annoy me more than losing 2-3 hours to something like a late train, as dead time can cost me more money than I save. If you are on a trip where train delays are not a big deal, taking Amtrak can be relaxing, but personally I would rather roll the dice on a flight: you can catch a puddle jumper out of Detroit to Chicago that gets you there in an hour (plus der Fatherland Security factor) and is not much more in cost if you book a few weeks out.
What about the flights out of Toledo to Chicago? I guess it just depends on where you are going but I've never had an issue going from O'Hare to downtown on the Blue (I think) Line. I used to do Midway to downtown on the Orange line all the time after a flight outta Toledo. Sure miss those Midway flights.
I've only had the train to Chicago be late maybe 2 out of 7 times I've taken it.
It's a good deal price-wise, and you don't have to worry about dealing with car there.
Comfortable ride and gets there in the mid morning, which is perfect for me.
The only other choice I'll occasionally make is the Megabus if I can get a really good price.
I haven't taken it recently, only a few times when I lived in Chicago about 10 years ago. The first time it arrived on time and the other times it was several hours late. It kept stopping for freight trains to pass, was dirty and smelled like a port a pot.
I've taken the train once and the Megabus once and I'll take the Megabus from now on. We got our seats for $15 each way and it was on-time there and a little early coming back. Amtrak was 2 hours late into Chi and 3 hours late coming back because we had to stop on a siding outside of Gary for 2 hours to let freights pass, as someone else said. Rail will never be a viable passenger option in the Midwest till it gets priority.
Railway travel is no longer a viable passenger service because it lost priority years ago. Cars, buses, and air travel have killed the passenger train, Amtrak was only kept alive through a bleeding fund from the taxpayers.
My friend just left for the train (via cab, we've been drinking so no driving!). His trip is scheduled at about 3am. Kinda crazy but way cheap compared to flights to NYC.
I have taken the Megabus several times to Chicago and have never had a problem. The only problem is that there is no longer any parking at the stop at Southwyck. Both the mall lot and the chiropractor's office are blocked off so you can't park there so I think I'll be taking it from Ann Arbor from here on out. Unless someone can suggest a place to park.
I just checked Orbitz, avinsurer, and a flight out of Toledo Express was about $100 more than a comparable flight out of Detroit Metro.
I must have some really good luck or something.
I took Amtrak from Toledo to Pittsburgh over 4th of July 2009. It was fine. The train was 30mins late to arrive, but I got to Pittsburgh on time. I slept the whole way. That being said, my next trip to Pittsburgh, I took a rental car. Renting a car for the weekend (Friday-Monday) was cheaper than Amtrak. I used Enterprise.
I am using Amtrak again from Toledo to Boston this 4th of July. It's the cheapest way to get there by far but is also an 18 hour trip. I intend to do a lot of reading/writing and relaxing on my trip. This may not be for everyone, but I'd rather save the money and spend the time absorbed in a book than drop a load of cash on a plane ticket.
Anyways, I've never had a problem with Amtrak. I didn't have high expectations either. It's alright.
LC, if they could be consistently on time, I think it would go a long way towards boosting ridership. I loved riding the train, and I would pay more for the comfort (I drank, I ate, I talked to interesting strangers, I fell asleep across 2 seats, I walked! MUCH more enjoyable than the bus!) if I knew I was going to get where I'm going on time.
I took the Amtrak between Seattle and Portland, OR and it was amazing. Clean, modern, left exactly on time and got us there 20 min early. They even had little monitors where you could see where we were in relation to the destinations. Plus, the view was spectacular. If every train trip could be like that, I would be a big fan.
Until gas prices went over 3 bucks a while back the train wasn't really even considered by most people. Its a shame too, if you ever visit Europe its amazing what a train system could be. We had that once but its sadly fallen a lot compared to the 40's 50's.
Agrees with linecrosser. I would love to be able to take a train to pretty much any major city in the US. My grandmother has dreamed of being on a train and had thought about getting her a ticket so she can come see me, but sadly the closest one to her is 1.5 hrs away in another state and only leaves at midnight. With the timing and distance she can be here quicker by driving.
Agree that it can be a mixed bag with Amtrak. Have done a couple trips--one was fine each way (on time, no problems. The other trip was in march with the door to our car (the sliding door that opens and closes when people move between cars) was stuck wide open. In March. One cold trip.
America will never have a decent train system until private companies get involved to improve service (on board and on track) and have their own track laid. Also, prices have to come down for the train or go up for air travel. As long as it costs the same for a 2 hour flight that it does for a 1 day train trip, the flight will win every time.
As for Europe, I flew to Rome in 2005 and went all over Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Czech Republic, Switzerland) by train. Awesome experience. Avoided crowded airports.
Got on a train from Rome to Munich at 8PM and arrived in Munich at 8AM fully rested and ready for another day. Left Munich (oh so slightly inebriated) at 11PM and arrived in Vienna at 7AM ready to go again. It is a cool way to travel--sightsee during the day and get to your destination while you sleep. Trains were clean, comfortable, and had non-surly attendants on board.
Has there been any updates on the train overhaul that the president was talking about last year? Heard some of the stimulus money was going toward adding new major stations with a hub in Chicago.
just an update at the hub Chi already has would be good. people sitting everywhere on teh floor waiting is my one big memory. maybe it was a bad weekend. the food court was good tho.
We're not in Europe...we drive cars and take aeroplanes here in the motherland.
>I just checked Orbitz, avinsurer, and a flight out of Toledo Express was about $100 more than a comparable flight out of Detroit Metro.<
Such a bitch that airlines actually expect you to pay a profitable fare, eh? Not to mention...Toledo-Chicago use to be a pretty large air market from the local airport. Unfortunately people see Spirit or Southwest (who isn't the lowest fare around anymore), cream their pants, fly them, and then turn around and bitch their local airport doesn't offer the service anymore. Toledo use to have an airport manager that came out and said in an interview that Toledoans need to "use it or lose it" as far as the service they had at the time. Well...the dumbasses didn't pay attention and guess what happened. From over 40 daily departures a day down to what...8 or 9?
Sooner - I don't think the point is that people expect the airlines to take a loss on the fare. The point is that most people wouldn't pay $100 more for a fare to fly out of Toledo, when Detroit Metro is so convenient.
I lived in Monroe County for a long time (and even now just live just across the border in Sylvania Twp). To save $100 and have direct flights, it was worth it to go to Detroit.
Don't get me wrong, I've flown out of Toledo before and liked the experience. But, when I do get around to traveling these days, I am a budget conscious flyer.
(Though post-kids, I rarely fly any more. Used to be a regular at the airport for work & fun though.)
Forgot to include - if the difference in price were less significant than $100, then it might be a different story. But $100 or more extra is pretty steep for most people around here, I'd imagine.
Then multiply that by the number of people in your party and it can add up fast.
You missed the point. Which I may have been too tired to accurately write out. We are talking strictly Toledo-Chicago a route that use to always have 10 flights or more a day on it, direct/nonstop/whatever you wanna call them, until United left and then again when ATA was in town. The service was available (still is only 4 a day right now) at a lower fare then, but it has since gone up. Why? Because Toledoans didn't care to use the service at the local airport and took the drive north. So they "lost" the service they are complaining about not having. The service now is to provide flights TO Toledo, not to service the originating Toledo traffic. The fares are a bit higher because they are serving the connecting business passenger coming in from out of town. By all accounts, Allegiant's flights are about the only thing service the local market. Toledoans before didn't want to use service because the plane in Detroit sat a few more people...so they lose it. The current situation was brought around by the local populace decision and complaining about fares is a bit out of place because it is what they essentially wanted.
historymike - it's not all about $$$. If you want options, yea detroit is better, I won't lie. Don't try and get to detroit airport 20 minutes before your flight and expect to make it. $20 a day at the Mac ($12 in the quick park?) or $8 a day 2 minutes from your car? I prefer arriving 20 minutes prior to my flight and walking right on and not worrying if security is 20 minutes long. It's not all about the fare. I guess it's all about preferences.
Mom - I wouldn't blame you for going to DTW living in Monroe County.
Yeah, I'm in the OWE. A drive from here to TOL is not much shorter than a drive to DTW. There are essentially no direct flights to the multitude of destinations per year that I fly to, so to pay more and longer travel time on that connection doesn't make sense. Nor cents.
I did fly to FL direct from Toledo this winter and it was totally cool, except when I wanted to stay an extra few days and realized I would have to stay longer than I wanted because it was essentially a "charter flight" that didn't have daily service.
True, avinsurer, but $100 a ticket times two people adds up to some serious savings. If that number was closer to $50 a ticket (or less!) it would begin to be worth the shorter drive to Toledo Express. Besides, I have a relative who lives a stone's throw from Detroit Metro, so long term parking can be free for me.
I did luck out and begin my trip to Spain in 2008 via Toledo Express (then to Detroit, then Paris-De Gaulle, then Madrid), which meant that I only had to pass through der Fatherland Security down here, where there was no line. In Detroit the lines for check-in and/or scanning can indeed be quite lengthy.