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Passenger Trains > Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago


Date: 10/08/19 20:15
Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: inCHI

I wish I was around when the International still ran, I missed it by a few years. So, now with no good cross border connection to Michigan - Via and Amtrak schedules really don't seem to align very well - I looked out of curiosity at what Amtrak would do to route me from Chicago to Toronto. I expected the Maple Leaf from Toronto to Buffalo, a long layover, then 49 to Chicago. Instead I get: Toronto to Schenectady, 75 minute layover, catch 49. That means - ride 278 miles east, wait a little bit, ride 278 miles back, and keep going. I suppose that would at least be a good tour of the Water Level route, all in one day! But wow, what a way to route people. I would feel bad for casual travelers who booked that without realizing what the other possibilities were - like, spend 11 hours in Buffalo. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/19 20:18 by inCHI.



Date: 10/08/19 20:58
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: GenePoon

On a given date, the Maple Leaf arrives at Buffalo (1255pm) after the Lake Shore Limited departs (1220am). 
I had to use Multi-City and book the Buffalo-Chicago segment on the subsequent date. 

The long connecting time and date change probably throw off Amtrak's crude connecting-segment
algorithm since overall travel time is the same and connecting time at Schenectady is less.
I once knew an employee at Amtrak (now retired) and upon noticing this kind of anomaly in Arrow,
I would notify him and he'd correct it.  We had to do this over again, manually, every time there was
a schedule change, which then was twice a year.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/19 20:59 by GenePoon.



Date: 10/08/19 21:53
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: wa4umr

I did a "what if" a few years ago.  I did a what if I traveled from Whitefish, Mt to Cincinnati. I tried it on two different dates.  On one date it sent me on #8, the eastbound Empire Builder to Chicago and then on the Cardinal to Cincinnati.  Nothing special there.  So I delayed my departure a day.  The Cardinal only runs 3 days a week.  Leaving on #8 would put me in Chicago on a day that the Cardinal didn't run.  Amtrak came up with an outstanding way around the problem.  They would have put me on #27 to Portland, then #14, the Northbound Coast Starlight to Seattle, and then #8 back to Chicago.  Of course, I would be traveling back to and through Whitefish the next day on my way back to Chicago.  The cost was not extremely different.  It would have been a nice way to see the Columbia River, the route through the Cascades, and the territory between Seattle and Whitefish.

John



Date: 10/08/19 23:21
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: GenePoon

The cost may not have been all that different in Coach, but in Sleeping Car it would have been huge.



Date: 10/09/19 03:39
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: andersonb109

Sounds like a quick flight with far less customs hassles would solve the problem and save lots of time in the process.



Date: 10/09/19 05:43
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: abyler

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sounds like a quick flight with far less customs
> hassles would solve the problem and save lots of
> time in the process.

How did this work prior to say 1981?

Like when the Niagara Rainbow ran and stopped in Buffalo, Ontario, and Detroit, as well as the Vermonter, Adirondack, TH&P/CP Buffalo-Toronto train, or the Atlantic Limited, what happened at the border?  The schedules show at most a 15 minute stop for customs.

What year did everything become so onerous?  2001?



Date: 10/09/19 05:48
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: tomdoyle409

andersonb109 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sounds like a quick flight with far less customs
> hassles would solve the problem and save lots of
> time in the process.

I am certain that OP knows that flying is an option, but he apparently refers rail travel.



Date: 10/09/19 06:26
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: inCHI

tomdoyle409 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> andersonb109 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Sounds like a quick flight with far less
> customs
> > hassles would solve the problem and save lots
> of
> > time in the process.
>
> I am certain that OP knows that flying is an
> option, but he apparently refers rail travel.

Correct. I probably will have to fly because the rail options are so implausible. But I was curious to see what they were, at least. I could do Via 71 at 6:45am out of Toronto, get to Winsor before noon, but then miss both the morning and afternoon Wolverines out of Detroit by the time I get across the border. So then I'd need to wait in Detroit for 5-6 hours to catch #355 at 5:30 or so, and I'd arrive in Chicago at 11pm (if on time.) If I did layover in Detroit, the Detroit Institute of Arts is near the Amtrak station and a worthwhile way to spend my time. But I'd have luggage and the pitiful Amtrak station has nothing for that (that I know of.) And my total trip would have stretched into a 16+ hour event.



Date: 10/09/19 06:29
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: jeffgeldner

Several years ago I rode in the sleeper from Chicago to Buffalo and took a taxi to downtown. There I rode the Niagara Frontier's light rail line and visited the Buffalo History Museum. I caught the Maple Leaf at the Exchange St. Station for Toronto later that day. Not as convenient as the International but it worked.

I might add that I was amused when the Amtrak attendant removed all their stock of Pepsi products- then the Via attendant later boarded and replaced the supplies with Coke products. 2 different contracts, of course.

I have also used the Detroit/Windsor option. However, I stayed at the Dearborn Inn overnight so I could visit Greenfield Village (which has a train pulled by a coal burning steam locomotive). I left the following morning and crossed the border to Windsor. I Enjoyed  Via 1 service on board their train.A nice way to travel if one has the extra time. 

Jeff Geldner
Sequoia National  Park CA



Date: 10/09/19 08:22
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: joemvcnj

The best way to do it by ground public transportation is to take an intercity bus in the late afternoon from Toronto to Buffalo Airport, take a 2 mile taxi ride to Depew, possibly stop along the way to pick up some food, and sweat out 49 there. Alternatively, head to Rochester which has a nice, new intermodal station. 



Date: 10/09/19 10:18
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: DevalDragon

The cheapest and simplest way between Chicago and Toronto is to drive.



Date: 10/09/19 16:31
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: jp1822

Person in front of me at the Amtrak ticket counter asked agent for a ticket from Chicago to Plattsburgh, NY. I believe there may be a military base in Plattsburgh and he needed to near there. The Amtrak agent spent some time on the computer and then told the gentleman, there's no train that would take him from Chicago to Plattsburgh, NY. The system some how would not "put the trip together" because it would require a "layover" in Schenectady or Albany. I found this absurd. The agent recommended he take train to NYC and then she said "there was probably a bus" that would get him to Plattsburgh. Hmmmm. The gentleman accepted the answer and was about to book sleeper on the Lake Shore Limited when I intervened. Told him to overnight in Schnectad, Albany, or even NYC and the catch the next day Adirondack to Plattsburgh. The agent gave me a snarky look, but the customer was happy! Somehow the system should have been able to do this or flag it as a "layover" of some sort.  



Date: 10/09/19 16:34
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: GenePoon

The agent may have been told by Amtrak, or mandated by Amtrak policy, not to
suggest an overnight layover since most of the powers that be at Amtrak are
diehard, narrowminded corridorists and don't understand that (or sleeping car travel,
for that matter).



Date: 10/09/19 16:56
Re: Amtrak's funny way of booking Toronto-Chicago
Author: joemvcnj

If you try to book Chicago to Plattsburgh, system will say it can't be done and to go look at the routes or alternate stations. But I expect an agent to have some sense of Amtrak geography and their route structure if they want to have some value beyond being a human ticket vending machine. 

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/19 16:25 by joemvcnj.



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