I continue to be stumped by amtrak...advice?

Old Mar 24th, 2017, 02:04 AM
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I continue to be stumped by amtrak...advice?

I'm trying to compare prices between flying and taking the train to SF. I know, there is a significant time difference. But I can't decide which I want to do. To be convenient, I need to go leave from Bellingham. So it's Alaskan (expensive) or Allegiant (the reviews concern me and the add on fees are ridiculous)...and then there is Amtrak whose online booking system seems to have been set up by disgruntled ex DMV workers.

It shows Bellingham to Portland (casacades) and Portland to SF, (Starlight). But won't show me a complete Bellingham to SF option. I would think these trains connect? Is it because I'm on the mobile version? Is it because Amtrak hates me? All of the above? I'm starting to feel persecuted here... heeeeelp.

(Posting for our resident train fanatic, but if anyone has recent experience with this route, PLEASE chime in).
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 02:16 AM
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Based on playing with the website, there are no trains that get into Portland (Union Station) from Bellingham that would allow you to get on one into SF (Financial District)without requiring an overnight.
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 02:20 AM
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Oh, hell. That's what I was afraid of. Yet another attempt to ride the rails foiled. It's like they don't actually want paying customers.

Thanks for looking!
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 02:41 AM
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I am fortunate being in the Northeast as we have a lot of choices of trains and reliable schedules so I take it all the time. Elsewhere, I realize there are schedule issues and limitations - there was one train that leaves for SF from Portland that leaves 10 minutes before you would arrive if on schedule!
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 02:56 AM
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Sigh...yep, that sounds like Amtrak on the west coast. I'm not surprised, nor, to be honest, is it likely that I would trust a layover short of several hours anyway. But I don't want to pay for a hotel.

I give up on this every few years, then I spend time on the east coast and that renews my optimism and I try again. Recent articles about Trump cutting the long distance Amtrak routes have made me want to take off even more, but it's always so impractical. I don't even know how they get the number of suckers that buy tickets now.

Probably just going to fly Alaska as I did the math and it comes to less than driving anyway.
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 05:10 AM
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"To be convenient...." There is nothing convenient about Amtrak. Take a plane. HTtY
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 06:11 AM
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In all fairness there is nothing "impractical" about taking a lot of the Amtrak trips and routes. Out of the northeast corridor in which Amtrak actually controls the route, the corporation is at the mercy of freight rail owners. Their on-time record is deplorable IM Experience and I don't care what people say: they are often late.

Once, I flew to Portland specifically to take the Empire Builder back to Chicago. I walked into the Portland station and was told, "We're sorry, but we're not exactly sure where the train IS right now" (it was broken down on the way into the city is where it actually WAS).

And please, just because YOU have to spend an overnight somewhere doesn't make it "inconvenient" for everybody. Your having to do so is what happens when you don't have much rail service AT ALL.
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 06:44 AM
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OK, you have to get to Seattle King St station before 9:30AM.
There are no Cascades trains that arrive in the morning early enough to catch the Coast Starlight (9:35AM).
Your only option by train would be to take the last Cascade from Bellingham to Seattle and spend the night at the HI hostel which is within walking distance of King St. station.
From Bellingham to San Francisco - Fisherman's Wharf is within 15 minutes of 24 hours. If you buy the coach ticket more than 2 weeks in advance, you can get it for $109.
My advice is to fly Allegiant even if you do pay a little more. Travel light - no checked baggage.
Consider what your hotel room in San Francisco will cost for an extra night when deciding whether you can sleep on the train from Klamath Falls to Sacramento.
In May DW and I share a roomette from Winnemucca to Chicago.
We go onward from Chicago in Business class seats to Erie PA.
The roomette we bought on Amtrak Guest Rewards points.
Many of our online purchases earn AGR points and our car rental from Erie will earn 50 points per day.
To those Amtrak haters that think 1 train a day on a route is bad, consider the poor folks on the Sunset Limited and the Cardinal that have 3 trains a week each way.
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 06:55 AM
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I used to ride the Amtrak Cascades regularly from Seattle to Portland. For that trip, it worked really well. But my sisters used to ride the Coast Starlight from San Francisco to Seattle and those trains were always late!
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 09:33 AM
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Thank you for explaining that, Tom! I kept thinking the the Coast Starlight started in Seattle, and I couldn't figure out why it was not popping up. Amtrak was a less likely trip anyway; I just could not figure out what problem I was having with the booking system. I wish it would show "alternate times". I'm staying in an HI in SF so I've decided to just add a night onto there instead.

Yes, Dukey, I get that. But I was referring to the lateness too, as I've also seen that, and wouldn't think late trains are any more convenient to folks than connections that don't work. Did you enjoy your Empire builder ride?
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 11:01 AM
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I just flew Allegiant to Vegas and while it wasn't the best experience. It wasn't the worst. Just pay for everything when you book your ticket and download their app. And book far in advance.
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 11:38 AM
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Thanks, williamscb13! I figure that I've got low expectations when it comes to flying anyway
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 11:48 AM
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The Allegiant flight from Bellingham to the Bay area lands in Oakland. Here's the Bart connection. https://www.bart.gov/guide/airport
There is a place to check on the on time performance of Amtrak trains on the Amtrak website.
There have been a few times that I took the Southbound Coast Starlight and arrived in Sacramento at least 30 minutes early.
If you did decide on the train you could also ride a Cascades train to Portland or even Eugene to spend the night.
The southbound CS leaves Eugene about 5:10PM (sometimes late).
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 03:54 PM
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I take the pacific surfliner or coast starlight at various times throughout the year, usually from the central coasst of CA to southern california. The website is not easy to read and I wouldn't attempt it on my mobile!

Allegiant isn't so bad. You get what you pay for... no bells and whistles and if you can do it without checking a bag, even better.

I would fly and also check Alaska rates, they have many, many direct flights and often at reasonable prices.
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Old Mar 24th, 2017, 04:55 PM
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I will do just about anything to avoid Allegiant. I used them last week because it was the only straight through flight to Evansville, Indiana out of Sanford/Orlando. I received a text at 5:30 am for our 7:30 am flight. I know it was due to the snow storm and our plane was given to some other flight but they never offered that info. We could not reach anyone on the phone or the website so went to airport and got told we could go to Cincinnati that day, closest airport... We went back home and waited for the rescheduled flight which we never heard any info on so went back to airport and got ourselves on a flight to Owensboro, Kentucky for the next morning. A 40 min ride to destination but better than missing our party. The agent mentioned a voucher for our trouble but not holding my breath. I did inquire online but no word seven days later. They have zero communication via phone or website.

I love Amtrak on the east coast. I think it will get worse not better as there are budget cuts and they are at the top of the list.
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Old Mar 30th, 2017, 01:48 PM
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Coast Starlight is notoriously late coming north (starting down in California) because Amtrak does not own the tracks so there are many delays.

It's a really fun train though, because of the observation cars, bar/dining cars, sleepers, etc. Cascade is more like a bus (seating wise).
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Old Mar 30th, 2017, 10:26 PM
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The last 3 times that I rode the CS northbound we were on time or slightly early to Klamath Falls.
The Talgo trains used on the Cascades runs are much nicer than any Amtrak bus.
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Old Mar 31st, 2017, 06:52 AM
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My travel planning has become much less complicated since I eliminated Amtrak as a possibility of getting me from one place to another.

HTtY
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Old Mar 31st, 2017, 08:18 AM
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Did you check Southwest out of Seattle? They may have cheaper flights.

Also, check flights into OAK - you can take BART (metro train) from either SFO or OAK.
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Old Apr 1st, 2017, 09:16 AM
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Remember, the Coast Starlight does not go into San Francisco. The closest station is Emeryville in the East Bay (what I call the "Berkeley Side"). From there, you are shuttled by bus into SF. And it's a pity that there's no BART station right there.

And the Coast Starlight is notoriously late . . . I've been on it 3 times up and down the coast from LA and it's been anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours late the times I've taken it.

Having said that, taking it from Seattle to Emeryville is an awesome trip (one way only!). I would use Southwest for the balance of the trip (i.e. return to Seattle or Portland)
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