Friday, August 15, 2008

Amtrak Sucks!

I travel to Philadelphia from NY and back once a week for work. The Amtrak train typically takes about an hour and a half and is ordinarily not a terrible ride. However, often, there are delays. Especially, on the returning evening trains. Yesterday, I went to Philly, in part, for a dinner for a colleague who was going to London for a year. I had timed it perfectly to get on the returning 9:10 p.m train hoping to be home by 11:00 in time to catch some of the Olympics and get to bed at a reasonable time. The train, however, was delayed by more than an hour. Basically, I found myself boarding the train when I should have been arriving at my destination. How frustrating! There was hardly an explanation or apology from the railroad, much less a rebate of any kind. Yes, I know about "the best laid plans of mice and men" and all that crap, but the fact that delays happen so often, I think, displays a basic lack of consideration for passengers' time and priorities. Unfortunately, there are few options for rail service on many Northeast routes and so we're basically at the mercy of Amtrak's piss poor service. Interestingly, Amtrak's Acela Express trains, which are more expensive, are rarely ever late. And, sometimes, they hold up the regular trains to let the Acela get through first when there are backups at the train station. I guess these days one must pay a premium to have one's train arrive and depart at the scheduled times (the Acela makes the trip in one hour, so the premium paid is presumably for this benefit; when someone decides to pay less and take the longer ride I don't think they should have to sacrifice punctuality as well). Anyway, I hope some entrepreneur out there will read this and come up with a plan to provide a competitive service because at this time all that's left for this frustrated customer to do is bitch about the problem on her blog. Thanks for listening.

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