NYBC advocates for Roll-on Service in Amtrak Trains

Filed Under: Advocacy & Policy, Local Communities, NYBC Activities, NYBC in the News
Post By: jwilson
Posted On: December 16, 2012

New York Bicycling Coalition Director Harvey Botzman and NYBC President Paul Winkeller attended the 4th New York-Vermont Bi-State Intercity Passenger Rail Study meeting in Mechanicville NY on December 11, 2012. For over 25 years Harvey and the New York Bicycling Coalition have been advocating for unboxed bicycle carriage facilities (AKA roll-on service) on Amtrak trains and bicycle amenities at train stations throughout the State.

Amtrak Roll-On ServiceIn 2008, the Coalition and Cyclotour Guide Books submitted extensive comments on the NYS Department of Transportation Rail Plan in regard to carriage of bicycles on trains. It is the Coalitions position that unboxed bicycle carriage facilities and station enhancements will significantly increase ridership on all Amtrak trains traversing the State. Such facilities could easily stimulate the development of a vibrant bicycle tourism industry like Vermont’s.

The object of the Study is to plan a new route for the Ethan Allen train from Albany through Schenectady and Mechanicville NY to Rutland VT. There would be no change to train service on one of the world’s most scenic train routes, the Adirondack. The Adirondack’s route is from New York City through Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs and Whitehall NY to Montreal QC.

Harvey’s questions and comments concerned the inclusion of un-boxed bicycle carriage facilities on Amtrak’s current trains using the routes from New York City (the Adirondack, Maple Leaf, Lake Shore Limited, and Empire Service trains) and from Albany-Rensselaer (the Ethan Allen train); the need for platform level loading of passengers and bicycles, and the economic benefits of providing roll on/roll off facilities for bicycles, kayaks, and other large sports equipment. Loading/unloading of passengers and bicycles at the platform level meets the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and will speed up the embarking and disembarking of passengers as well as bicycles.

Roll on/roll off bicycle carriage facilities as well as bicycle lockers at stations are very important for the economic development of the Adirondack and Lake Champlain tourism areas. The tourism economy within New York’s Adirondack Blue Line as well as throughout the State is experiencing a significant increase in the number of off road and on road bicyclist tourists. These bicycle tourists as well as kayakers and canoeists travel to the Adirondacks and the Lake Champlain area by automobile from New York City, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto. Currently there is no public transit (intercity bus or train) capable of transporting their sports equipment (bicycles, kayaks, canoes) to these outstanding outdoor playgrounds. Amtrak can boost its ridership as well as the tourism economies of these areas simply by providing unboxed carriage (at a small fee) of bicycles, kayaks, canoes, and skis.

Peter Bardunias, President & CEO, The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County; the representative from the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce; Mechanicville’s Mayor; local elected officials; and many citizens at the meeting agreed with Harvey and Paul that current and future trains traversing this route as well as all of New York State need unboxed bicycle carriage facilities to bring tourists to the area and stimulate economic development.