Traveling by Train with Your Bike in NYS
By Harvey and Justin
With the exciting launch of roll-on service for bikes on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited route, we think now is a great time to provide an update and some details on traveling with your bike by train in New York State.
Harvey Botzman, an NYBC board member and representative who’s a member of the Amtrak / Adventure Cycling Association Bicycle Task Force, traveled on the Capital Limited Amtrak route early this month. Although Harvey travels with a folding bike (allowed to be carried in the passenger cars of almost any Amtrak train), he found the Capital Limited was ready for roll-on service (the carriage of unboxed bicycles), which was launched two days ago. Harvey reported that the Capital Limited’s conductor and train staff were eagerly anticipating serving the bicycling community.
The Capital Limited is a wonderful train, and, unlike trains traversing New York State, such as the Lake Shore Limited, the Capital Limited has two level coach trains. These types of train cars cannot be used in New York State due to the height of tunnels going into New York City’s Pennsylvania Station.
Harvey and others have been working to determine when the Lake Shore Limited will be equipped with a baggage car with hooks for roll-on service. Currently, on trains in New York State, passengers with bikes must use boxed bicycle carriage service, which costs $15 and requires removing the pedals and turning your handlebars.
Boxed bicycle carriage service is available when traveling the Lake Shore Limited train but not on the Empire Service, Maple Leaf, Adirondack, and Ethan Allen trains. Amtrak will then carry bicycles to any other station with checked baggage service, which is only available in NYC, Albany, Schenectady, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, & Buffalo-Depew (not Buffalo-Exchange St.). That is the caveat, both the departing and the arriving stations MUST have checked baggage service.
We strongly encourage you to call the station you want to depart from to make certain they have a bike box in stock. At this time of the year bike boxes go out of stock in stations faster than usual.
We’ll continue to advocate for trains across New York State to adopt roll-on service. We believe the Lake Shore Limited (NYC to Chicago/Boston to Chicago via Albany) will be among the first to have it in its baggage car. With our continued push and pressure, we think that we can successfully influence at least one route to implement roll-on service by the summer of 2016.