New Bike-Friendly Amtrak Baggage Cars Rolling Into New York Soon

Filed Under: Advocacy & Policy, NYBC Activities
Post By: jwilson
Posted On: June 20, 2014

NYBC is pleased to announce an exciting development with our efforts to bring roll-on bicycle service to New York’s Amtrak routes.

On June 17 Amtrak announced that field testing has begun on new baggage cars that will be in service on all 15 long-distance routes by the end of 2014.  The new cars will be equipped with built-in luggage racks that will be able to secure unboxed bicycles (no more struggling with bike boxes!).

As if this news isn’t enough, this equipment is being built right here in New York. The five-year, $298.1 million contract to build these and other cars was awarded to CAF USA, which created 575 jobs to perform manufacturing and final assembly work at its plant in Elmira, N.Y.

Photo courtesy of Amtrak

Photo courtesy of Amtrak

New York’s only long-distance Amtrak train – the Lake Shore Limited – will soon feature the new bike-friendly baggage car service on its route between New York City and Chicago.  

The improved service will allow cyclists to travel seamlessly to many upstate destinations, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Albany.  The service will also contribute to bicycle tourism in the state by providing a more convenient way for cyclists in Chicago, Cleveland and other points west to access some of New York’s best bicycling destinations and events.

New York Bicycling Coalition has long advocated for roll-on bicycle service on Amtrak trains in New York, and we remain committed to introducing and improving rail transportation options for bicyclists in an effort to promote bicycle tourism across the state.

While this news is fantastic, we will continue to push hard for the implementation of roll-on bicycle service on Amtrak corridor routes in New York.

In 2013 NYBC worked with Amtrak to organize a number of demonstration rides to test a roll-on bicycle rack system on the Adirondack, Ethan Allen, and Maple Leaf trains (New York’s short-distance “corridor routes” that do not have baggage cars).  The test generated valuable feedback for Amtrak and demonstrated the significant demand for this service among New York’s bicycling community, but a number of barriers for implementing roll-on bicycle service on corridor route trains were identified.

In early 2014, NYBC Executive Director Josh Wilson was appointed to the Amtrak Bicycle Services Task Force.  Comprised of Amtrak officials, US Senator Charles Schumer (NY), passenger rail association members, transportation professionals and state bicycle advocacy organizations, the Task Force is working to identify both long-term and short-term solutions for improving Amtrak bicycle access and services in the Northeast.

NYBC is confident that the Amtrak Bicycle Services Task Force will be successful in identifying roll-on solutions that can be replicated on corridor routes in New York and the Northeast.  This fall, the Task Force plans to execute a pilot project on one corridor route in the Northeast to facilitate and document a design solution for passenger car bicycle racks that can be replicated across the Amtrak system.

Stay tuned for more updates on our work to improve Amtrak bicycle service in New York State.