I made another quick trip down to NYC and when I was coming back, my northbound Empire Service train waited in NY Penn Sta for a late Regional from Virginia/DC because there were quite a lot of people--more than I ever noticed before--making the transfer. I was seated near one of those four-seater configurations (two facing forward, two backward) at which three people, all strangers, began talking, prompted by the "excitement" of two of them catching the Empire Service train when they had arrived late into Penn Station and expected to have missed the connection. One woman had gone by train to Alexandria and was now coming home, getting off in Croton; another, by train to Washington DC and was now returning to Poughkeepsie. The Poughkeepsie-bound woman was telling the other one and a third person, also going to Poughkeepsie and who had never taken Amtrak before, what a nice ride it was up the Hudson River and how much she liked taking Amtrak and not driving. She was telling them, too, that there were other trains from Penn Station, to Boston, for instance, and Montreal, Toronto, and maybe, she thought, there still was one to Florida. The other woman wondered if there was a train to Maine. I could not resist intruding to fill them in on a few particulars, telling them there were in fact two daily overnight trains to Florida as well daily trains that terminated in North Carolina and one in Savannah, Georgia, a daily train to New Orleans that stopped in Atlanta, several trains to Pennsylvania including one that went all the way to Pittsburgh, some trains from Boston into Maine, a daily train to Chicago and another longer one that went three times a week, and some other details, like that there were other trains one could connect with in Chicago and so on. The woman who was going to Poughkeepsie mourned the fact that she had not known she could take the train to Pittsburgh, where she needed to drive in a few days' time, and said she would be considering it in future. None of these people seemed to mind the delayed connection (granted, it wasn't that long a delay, and they were happy their connecting trains waited for them) and all were talking about taking trains more in future, since it was so beautiful (granted, it was a gorgeous day) and so relaxing compared to driving and also because gasoline costs were so high.
People in the Northeast are already used to taking commuter trains and whatnot and are very open to longer train travel if it is comfortable and affordable--esp day trips. I should mention, though, that these people were all single travelers, and that will be the biggest market--maybe some couples too, but for families, it is still probably cheaper to drive. . . .
This article was recently sent to me. It apparently ran earlier this month in someone's column in the Long Island newspaper, Newsday:
quote: The woman who was going to Poughkeepsie mourned the fact that she had not known she could take the train to Pittsburgh, where she needed to drive in a few days' time, and said she would be considering it in future
Her not knowing about service to Pittsburgh opens up an old debate that too many people have forgotten about and given up on: route and schedule marketing and advertising.
Amtrak marketing spends millions on pretty pictures on billboards and magazine advertisements. However despite long calls for informational advertising telling people where Amtrak goes and when it goes there, the lady in question never saw or heard anything that said Pittsburgh, 10:50 a.m., Penn Station.
It wouldn't cost Amtrak anything to post signs like that in its Empire Service trains.
Why anyone in Amtrak thinks the general public knows where trains go baffles me.
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