Could you please get Amtrak to give us the same rate that we have enjoyed for 25 years?

Robert McCann wants the same Amtrak fare he’s enjoyed for the last 25 years. He’s upset that the price had almost doubled. Is there anything that we can do for him?

Question: For the last 25 years, my wife and I have been traveling round-trip on the Amtrak auto train from Lorton Va., to Sanford, Fla. When we return from Florida, we book tickets for the following year, so that we get the best price.

When I got home and called to buy tickets for our next trip, I was told that I had to wait 14 days before I could book. I called on the fourteenth day and was told I could book the tickets for $1,500. I explained that the tickets were always around $830. And, I was told “yeah” if I had booked them sooner. They wouldn’t let me book any sooner.

We are going to Florida this year to celebrate our 58th wedding anniversary, and our 80th birthdays. We can’t make the long drive to Florida. We are retired and $730 more for the auto train is a big jump. Can you help us obtain a fair price?– Robert McCann, Philadelphia

Answer: Sometimes our advocates get cases they aren’t sure how to approach — and your case was one of them. We don’t advocate cases that involve getting a better rate for a product or service.

But, our advocates did suggest that you try to advocate for yourself. They recommended that you start by writing Amtrak’s customer relations department. If that was unsuccessful, their next suggestion was that you try to contact company executives for assistance. We list executive contact information on our website under Amtrak company contacts.

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Our advocates also told you to review the FAQ section of our website for suggestions on resolving your dispute.

You called Amtrak’s customer service department and were told that there was nothing that could be done. You wrote to an Amtrak executive and did not receive a response. Then, you called the company executive of customer relations. This time you received an email from Amtrak confirming your tickets for a cost of $892.

We don’t know why Amtrak adjusted its price for you, but we’re glad it did. Perhaps it was because you and your wife are loyal Amtrak customers and have been making this journey on Amtrak for 25 years. This was self-advocacy at its best.

Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight.

  • finance_tony

    Oh well. Amtrak won’t exist in any recognizable form within a year or two. May as well liquidate the place and give discounted rates to senior citizens for one last hurrah.

  • Alan Gore

    You expect prices to go up over time, but that big a jump in one year for a highly subsidized service is suspicious. The clerk she called was probably looking in the wrong place.

  • Alan Gore

    On the other hand, had Californians allowed Obama’s fully funded high speed Los Angeles – San Francisco rail link to be built without useless litigation driving costs to the moon, we would see a lot more public support for trains today.

    Now that infrastructure is back as a political issue, the whole debate seems to center around the public cost of projects. I think that’s a little off target: what I would like to see is an administration that fixes the legal system by preventing NIMBYs and Luddites from filing frivolous court delays. That’s why we can’t build even purely private projects like Cape Wind, the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Thirty Meter Telescope, which involve zero public funding.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Some advocacy is probably a good thing, because not every project should be built (I’m thinking of the purple line in DC). Just because someone wants to build a freeway through your planet, you shouldn’t have to travel to alpha centauri to file a protest (though don’t forget your towel). But I agree that such challenges should be consolidated into a single, rapid proceeding, so that we get consensus on whether the project is legal or not, to allow appropriate projects progress.

  • Alan Gore

    Every kind of project has technical standards for its type that it must meet, which include vetting for safety and environmental impact. We have expert agencies like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that see to that. But what we’re seeing today is fully permitted projects getting attacked by activists Just Because. These are the people – no expertise to judge the projects they condemn – that I would like to see locked out of our court system so that we could actually make some progress again.

  • PsyGuy

    It’s sad, in Japan the trains are the best. I’d rather take the train than fly. They are fast (the train from Tokyo to Kyoto is 2.25 hrs), inexpensive (well kind of) reliable and pleasant.

  • PsyGuy

    That was amazing of them, they really had no reason to do, proof that again, Chris can do anything.

  • michael anthony

    Locking certain people out of the court system is a slippery slope. Just who decides who has a truly vested interest? For example, there is a strong push to cap medical malpractice awards to a miniscule amount. Some malpractice costs last a lifetime and the costs of care run into the millions.

    It seems a step away from true democracy. Many people who truly have a vested interest don’t have the $$ to fight, thus they turn to advocacy groups for help. For example the people whose land is directly affected by certain pipelines are up against big oil. Without activists and advocates, they might just as well as roll over and play dead.

  • Mike

    It amazes me that the US cannot come up with a viable nationwide rail system. I’ve traveled in Europe extensively and find the train system fast, efficient, and affordable. There’s no way in heck that a ticket from Philly to DC should be as expensive as it is. In Europe, a comparable ticket is half the cost.

  • Lindabator

    Just on the bullet from Kanazawa to Tokyo last week – sat in coach, with more legroom than 1st class air here in the US – clean, great signage, safe —- WISH we had that here!

  • PsyGuy

    This is why I stay in Japan and not the States.

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