How To Travel Amtrak

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City of New Orleans, Southbound, Memphis

Over the past few years, as the TSA has gotten more and more aggressive without any security improvements, many libertarians and normies have turned to alternatives of the airlines. Whether its by car, bus, or train, its easy to avoid being pornoscanned, patted down, or put thru a simulated Holocaust experience. On top of there being little or no security, these other forms are usually more comfortable and flexible.

I have ridden on Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus, and Boltbus, each multiple times. The way to think about it is that buses are the economy class, and trains are the upgrade. Trains are usually a bit faster, at least in the northeast, and certainly more comfortable. They also have a cafe car selling basic food and drink at minimum, while longer distance trains have a full service dining car.

Its pretty simple to book an Amtrak ticket, like with any airline, perhaps even easier. Simply select the cities you want to travel to and from and look at the schedules. The northeast has over a dozen trains each direction every day, while long distance trains are either daily or triweekly. The best advantage of trains is its usually (but not always) downtown to downtown. In the northeast, the train is extremely competitive with airlines, even without higher speed Acela. You can travel New York to Boston in about five hours. The plane is about one hour travel time, plus another hour on both sides getting to and from the airport, and then at least an hour for security and checkin. At that point, it almost makes sense to take the train. You would think the airlines would push the TSA and government-run airports for a more streamlined experience.

Amtrak used to give paper tickets, and you can still get them at machines in major stations or offices, but today mostly operates with etickets. In fact, you dont need to show anything usually, you can just say your name and they look it up. Amtrak says they require identification, but I have never been asked. One time they said “IDs out”, and then never checked them. In fact, you probably could use a pseudonym with no problems. To access the platform in major stations, attendants will often check that your ticket is for that train. This is probably a good thing to ensure you dont take the wrong one. After boarding and departure, a conductor comes by to scan your barcode on the printout or your phone.

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Dining Car, Crescent

On board, you can settle in to what is practically first class on a plane: very comfortable seats with good cushion and lots of legroom. Amtrak also allows you to take two personal items, two carryon items, and two checked items (major stations only) free of charge. However, Ive abused this heavily by carrying more than allowed (Ive also done this on airlines). It seems to be: if you can move it, you can take it. But that does not mean show up with a dozen suitcases tied together. If you want a little more privacy, longer distance trains offer some bedrooms at additional cost (best booked well in advance). One thing lacking is a midlevel public bed car, where you might share the car or room with strangers, but get your own bed and curtain. This is common in Europe and elsewhere.

Amtrak is a semi-private company like the post office. And just like the post office, you can get away with a lot more than with private companies when it comes to breaking certain laws. Amtrak is more heavily regulated than private enterprises, despite being partly owned and run by the government, and half expected to make a profit (unlike roads, airports, highways, street parking, etc). If you use the roads, why the heck not use the trains, which actually are trying to be profitable, and offer mass transit in an anonymous way. Its also worth noting that there are no taxes on tickets or food (and the few souvenirs). What more can you ask for? Its hard to understand the libertarian objection to taking the train. You are no more avoiding government subsidies by driving, taking the bus, or flying. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, like travel used to be. You might even be able to sleep!

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Crescent, Northeastbound, Atlanta

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