Friday, April 23, 2004

Bikes on Amtrak - Reply Letter from Amtrak President David Gunn

Below is a reply to a letter the BCGP sent to Amtrak asking that former smoking cars on long distance Superliner Coaches allow some space for bikes.

60 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002
tel 202 906.3960 fax 202 906.2850
David L. Gunn
President and Chief Executive Officer

March 12, 2004
Mr. Alex Doty
Acting Executive Director
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
100 South Broad Street, Suite 1355
Philadelphia, PA 19110-6735

Dear Mr. Doty:

Thank you for your letter of March 15, 2004, concerning bicycle carriage on Amtrak trains.

As you may be aware, Amtrak carries only boxed bicycles in checked baggage cars, with some exceptions. These include state-supported trains in California, Chicago Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Maine service. The states in each of these cases have requested and provided funding for a variety of options ranging from overhead racks and designated bicycle spaces in coaches to roll-on space in converted cab cars and locomotives. On the rest of our national
system, only folding bicycles may be brought onto coaches, provided that they meet certain specifications.

Given the shortage of baggage cars in our fleet, we made the decision to redeploy them from the Vermonter and the former Twilight Shoreliner to routes with greater demand. Unfortunately, demand for the bicycle racks on the Vermonter never materialized. The baggage car was returned to service on the Federal, which replaced the Twilight Shoreliner, on January 19 of this year.

In the exceptions noted above, our internal studies show that no injuries have ever occurred as a result of onboard bicycle stowage in coaches equipped with racks bolted against the walls, as on our Surfliner route in California, or in the overhead racks provided on our Downeaster service in Maine. Unfortunately, unless we have this type of arrangement, bicycles can block access and egress within cars and may strike passengers and employees when not adequately secured.

While Amtrak will discontinue smoking on long-distance trains (again, with a few exceptions) effective April 26, no decision has been made regarding further use of these smoking lounge spaces in the lower level of our Superliner equipment. Because of our severe equipment shortage, they may eventually be redirected in a way that that will help increase revenue by
adding lower-level seating or to help reduce costs by adding a mixed-use for baggage. Any other use, including allowing bicycles to be added to that mix, would depend on funding and equipment

While I regret not being able to offer you a more positive outlook in the near term from your perspective, I trust that you will understand the constraints under which we operate.


David L. Gunn
President and Chief Executive Officer