So I asked Amtrak (again)…
@ paulheckbert Do you get the sense that PennDOT doesn’t have their heart in this?
Someone at PennDOT has a heart? Who knew?
But things are still on schedule for the Vermonter to have bike-holding baggage cars by April?
Yes. The new baggage cars are being fitted now for spring deployment.
Hmm, is it gonna be a rack in a passenger car for the Vermonter? Or a separate baggage car? It doesn’t look like a lot of the Vermonter stations offer checked baggage service.
Would you be able to access the bikes at stations that don’t offer checked bags?
My understanding is that RORO will be available every place the train stops. How it gets handled at each station may vary greatly, depending on the layout of the station and what sort of baggage car is in use. Too many variables to explain in one post. Incomplete list:
* If bikes have space to themselves or are shared with other baggage
* If you have to hand the bikes up four feet to someone in the car, or just up a short couple of steps, or just push it on from a level platform
Lots more to it than that. Lots more. And even that will change over time and with new routes added. This is still highly fluid. Right now, let’s just be happy with that, yes, there will be RORO service, this year, on those couple of routes, and that more info will be forthcoming.
There’s a phone meeting today about it, which unfortunately, I am going to miss because of a work conflict. Some of this info might be discussed then.
Not that I can speak with any authority, but it sounds so far like RORO is
A:self serve and if so B:will only be at what port authority calls “high platform
stations”. No handing bike to attendant.
Also looks to be a dedicated part of the car, at the end.
The Pennsylvanian has no high platform in Pittsburgh or most/all of its stops. You have to climb up narrow stairs into the passenger car. An Amtrak employee helps you with the big first step from the ground, and assists with getting your carry-on baggage up or down (so I’d guess they’d be just as helpful with a bike).
Does the Capitol Limited have any high-platform stations?
It’d be great if RORO serves all stops. On Amtrak’s site somebody from Amtrak seemed to suggest the opposite, that the goal of RORO was just to eliminate boxes for bikes traveling as checked baggage. Hope that’s wrong, or that’s just step one of many steps.
I’d suggest the Roll in RORO is aimed at self load/unload. But yeah, the boxes
are a huge pita.
The boxes, in my experience, were only a moderate PITA. You didn’t have to take the wheels off or anything, just the pedals, the handlebars on a drop bar bike, and the saddle on a big bike. Much better than a shipping-sized box.
I did catch today’s meeting. We’re looking at more like mid-May for rollout.
Pennsylvanian isn’t happening this year.
I would love to take the capitol down with bike, see Monument Hill etc…
(Station is like 2is mi from there), Whitehouse another mile…
Then scoot back the same day or next morning or something.
How many bikes can we do this with at once, assuming no bikes are in car from
Chicago? (or is there a way to pre-order for a group trip more capacity?)
Action alert from the League of American Bicyclists:
“TODAY the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on an amendment to standardize roll-on service for bicycles, wheelchairs and other devices used for transportation by people with disabilities.
Please ask your Representative to support the Lipinski Amendment to standardize bicycle roll-on service at Amtrak stations.”
Looks like it’s just a requirement to report on progress, may be pretty soft, but it’s something.
If what they want for wheelchair / mobility vehicals is roll on / without some
scisor lift thing that they use now, this could be very very sticky.
The ADA standard for ramps is 1inch lift to 1 foot length. Take a 4′ rise to the car
and you’re at 48 linear feet of ramp, even zig zag, with the minimum width could take the whole width , or length of the available platform space.
A higher baggage car like say Deland Fla is more like 6 or 7 feet.
If this would go through I could see millions of $ and / or the lack of ability to
upgrade many/most stations to compliance. Alternative is redesign the cars??
As it stands, loading a wheelchair is a pita, but at least it can be done.
I’m 10,000% for bike racks RORO etc, but not sure ADA compliance will ever
(fwiw I ride an electric bike largely due to limited mobility, walk with a cane
somewhere around 40-50% of the time)
Huh, weird, I was not logged in. Also looks like I can’t edit my post myself. Thanks for the heads-up, JZ.
Signed. I hope it isn’t too late in the day. And that there’s any hope in getting Keith Rothfus to vote for anything that helps Amtrak.
It’s a bit odd to me that in this situation RoRo is being bundled with ADA. It has always sounded to me like the bike service is more hindered by the configuration of the cars, or access to a baggage car, not the physical access at the stations.
And if Amtrak service isn’t already ADA compliant, that would be absolutely mind boggling to me.
Caltrain to add additional bike space http://blog.sfgate.com/inthepeninsula/2015/03/19/caltrain-bicyclists-increase/
Data from Caltrain shows that since 2010 through 2014, there has been a 121 percent increase in the number of biking commuters, indicating that more than one in ten of all Caltrain riders are now bringing their bikes on board.
Wait, I’m still confused (and not just about the ever-slipping timeline). I’ve heard from Amtrak personnel that the new baggage cars are already being delivered, but I doubt those would be RORO since that would allow passengers to wander through the luggage car, grabbing stuff. Plus, *no* Vermonter-specific stations have baggage handlers, so there’s little point in putting a baggage car on that specific train.
The RORO trial in 2014 involved racks inside the passenger cars — on the Superliners’ lower level. That’s super-duper-convenient, since that would allow bikes to travel to Cumberland, Connellsville, and Harpers Ferry along the trail, but that wouldn’t apply to the Vermonter since it runs single-level equipment.
As for Pgh-NYC, you can currently check a boxed bike on Amtrak but it’ll travel via DC. You’ll need to have it aboard the Capitol Limited at 5:20 AM, it’ll connect to the overnight 66/67 (the only Northeast Corridor train with baggage), and will get to Penn Station at 2 AM the next day.
@marko82 – On Caltrain we had seats removed to install dedicated bike racks onboard, and generally we prefer to sit near the bike racks to keep an eye out for thieves. We’ve had also had to fight for every single last rack for decades and will probably have to continue to, even though research consistently shows that it’s the most economical approach and that it builds ridership.
It’s a slightly different animal from Amtrak service allowing RORO on baggage cars.
^this is why this is soo frustrating. First, you need to fight the system – in order to become a customer. Then they have different equipment on different trains running to different places, and sometimes your stuff has to go on a different train-and-route than the person who owns the stuff. Just put the damn racks on the trains!
And, jym, thanks for checking in.
I want RORO so I can take my mountain bike to huntington and then ride to raystown lake and mountain bike and camp! (can’t do without RORO since no checked baggage service at huntington, PA) or hop on the train at Cumberland (cant do without roro since no checked baggage service at cumberland, md) and get a ride back to Pittsburgh.
Cumberland, Md., linking Amtrak station to biking trails
Cumberland is happening this year. Huntingdon and Raystown isn’t happening for a long time yet. The Pennsylvanian didn’t even make the long list.
Ok, not following this as closely as I should maybe, BUT.
I’m about to buy a ticket for PGH to TOL (toledo). I want to take my bike.
I get that it’s $15, I presume I pay that online? or will I need to go to the station
to manually register for RORO?
TOLedo being a major station I would _hope_ it can debark the bike.
It is a gutted superliner car? Can I sit on second level? (anybody know?)
This is going to be cool, not much more than the dirty dog AND I’ll have my bike
for my 4 day vacation! (www.hamvention.org)
There’s no RORO service on either Pittsburgh route yet, and Amtrak hasn’t yet announced how it will work when it gets here.
For now, your bike would travel as checked baggage. You get 2 checked bags free; upgrading one of them to a bike instead is $10, and then there’s another $15 to buy a bike box from them (or you can bring your own). More details here in the section on bikes as checked baggage.
The Wikipedia page for the Capitol Limited has more info on which cars they use than I see on Amtrak’s site. It says “In early 2015, Amtrak temporarily reverted to their five car consist, due to the dining car and sightseer lounge going in for maintenance.” No idea when that Superliner II Sightseer Lounge car will go back in service.
Wow, I thought it was running.
Just talked to PGH local station and you are 100% right.
He said they just got training on RORO and there are ‘new baggage cars’
Advised me to call the 800number for possible dates it would be available.
I will know the rollout date before anybody, since I’m on the Amtrak committee. There have been numerous delays getting the racks fitted and the work done.
Thanks Stu. Apr 1 would be great, May 1 would still work.
Past may 14 I have no use for roro period. (Unless they added it to my fla train
that I’ll be on, with bike-in-box on Jun 1)
Is there any reason someone on the capital with bike can’t use a trailer (if the
tralier folds to acceptable amtrak baggage size) as checked bag?
I do this going to Fla, my one of my checked bags is my storage-tote-cum-trailer.
27Gal HDX black and yellow tote + used steel kid trailer and some bolts.
I think the statement by the guy @ the station that they got trained on it last
week may be a good sign. If not Apr 1, HOPEFULLY May.
Any word on this? Mid May is approaching fast and knowing if I could make use of roll on at Cumberland would sure help with my May bike ride planing.
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