Good news for travelers in the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak is lowering fares on its Acela Express by 25 percent. The new rates begin March 3 and are in effect through June 25. A ticket from New York to Washington can be had for as little as $99 and a New York - Boston ticket will be as low as $79. To get the low fares, tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance and are nonrefundable.
The reason for the discount comes down to one word: recession. In January, Amtrak reported a 14 percent decline in Acela ridership despite the traffic surge generated by Barack Obama's inauguration. For the most recent four-month period Acela traffic is off 10 percent, Bloomberg reports. The decline is attributed to a fall-off in business travel. So Amtrak, hopes to recoup some of its losses by pricing the train to appeal to the leisure passenger.
What's not known is whether the business traveler is abandoning Amtrak altogether or downgrading to the recently upgraded Northeast Direct service to save money. For some trips, the time savings on Acela over the conventional Amfleet-equipped trains do not justify the premium paid. On the other hand, Acela other amenities besides speed that can attract the leisure travelers, such as the large windows and better food options.
If Amtrak's strategy does work, expect to see a lot more college students on board headed for weekend jaunts to the Big Apple, Boston, Philadelphia or Washington.
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