Monday, May 18, 2009

Amtrak Long Distance Access "Issues"

I’ve been following the frustrations of a member at a discussion forum who resides in the UK and wishes to travel during May 2010 to attend The Players golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass Club, Ponte Vedra Florida. He wishes to use Amtrak from NY to Jacksonville; however owing to health reasons, he does not wish to rent an automobile and wishes to get about from a hotel near the course using public transportation. He is willing to take a taxicab from Amtrak to the hotel.

This dilemma certainly suggests how the entire commercial travel market is oriented around "fly and rent'. After noting the limited options members have set forth, it is certainly evident that access to Amtrak trains away from Corridor cities is a real problem; even taxicabs have a way of being scarce at stations.

But then to have an auto rental concern located at a station is simply a matter of volume - and the percentage of rail travelers that rent an auto at destination is minuscule. Most Amtrak Long Distance Coach passengers simply cannot consider renting an auto at destination, and are being “picked up’ by the friends or family they will be visiting. Amongst the small universe of Sleeper passengers, many fall into the “can’t/won’t/best not drive’ category. Even in leisure travel capitol Florida, there is only one station that has an on-premises auto rental outlet with both staff and autos at train times; that is Hertz at Orlando.

But another member participating in the discussion said I was all too quick to perceive a need for a rental auto at destinations to which I travel. Basically, if I’m traveling be air or rail, I will “automatically’ rent an auto at destination. If my comments suggested a perceived need for an auto when traveling, and going without saying in Daily life, I admit it - of course 95% of the US adult population holds same view.

Of the three 'away from home overnight' trips comprising fourteen nights I have made this year, one was air and the other two were using my auto (including Auto Train on one). Two others are planned with mode yet to be determined (Amtrak LD is not off the table BTW).

However, for the air trip to Florida last Feb and a meet up with my Sister, who resides in NY area, I simply booked “knee-jerk” the rental auto with Hertz along with my air transportation. On the journey, owing to a recurring ear problem, my Sister could not fly when scheduled, and had to stay over an additional two days until she could. Her first words to me after setting forth she was not presently fit to fly were “can you help me get a car before you leave?“ The last I saw of her was at a Hertz facility in Boca Raton so she could get her own auto 'for the duration".

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