"Amtrak Bike Service: What Is It & Where To Find It"
Where to find Bicycle Service Information
Amtrak provides information about bringing bikes on board, but Adventure Cycling has augmented that with our Multi-Modal Travel page where potential passengers wanting to bring bikes on board can find a spreadsheet listing the timetables and services. We also provide an instruction sheet on how to sort this information for easier use. In addition, there is a link to our interactive Amtrak map. Scroll over the map to see what line, station, and service is provided.
Expanding Carry-On Bike Service
There is a good deal of potential for expanding carry-on service. With the growing number of U.S. Bicycle Routes and the Adventure Cycling Route Network, cyclists could really benefit from having more carry-on capacity.
But there exists a good number of challenges to getting this done. With carry-on service, there are many differences in fees, bike capacity, and station service. Equipment differences explain the capacity differences: some trains have dedicated bike cars with racks, some have café cars with floor racks, some can take one bike per coach car, and some have bi-level coach cars that use the lower level for bikes. But bi-level cars can’t be used in the Northeast Corridor because tunnels and bridges don’t have enough height clearance.
State-controlled, short-haul routes (less than 750 miles) choose their fees (or lack of fee) based on their own service goals. Some stations don’t have carry-on bike service because the train runs on such a tight schedule that it can’t afford loading/unloading time (“dwell time”). Some stations have short platforms, making it impossible to load bikes into the baggage car without “re-spotting” the train and therefore, adding too much dwell time. Other platforms are too low relative to the height of the bike-baggage car and so there is no service at those stations because the reach is too high for customers to hand up their bikes.
I've used almost every variation of this that Amtrak offers on my trips. It would be nice if they had consistent service on each of their trains, but that is truly a "first world" problem. It is nice to be able to use the train for many trips, and I have found that the trains offering baggage service and bike boxes are by far the best service. Remove the pedals, turn the handlebars, roll the bike into the box and let them handle it. The other accommodations can be a hassle both loading and unloading.