Although Amtrak has not begun to operate the Adirondack & Ethan Allen trains north of Albany-Rensselaer or Schenectady stations Amtrak has installed bicycle racks on all its passenger coaches operating in New York State. When the Adirondack & Ethan Allen trains do begin operating bicyclists in Saratoga, Warren, Essex, Clinton, & Washington Counties. Bike Racks on Amtrak’s New York State Trains
By Harvey Botzman*
As the New York Bicycling Coalition representative to the Amtrak/Adventure Cycling Association Bicycle Task Force and a RBC member who bicycle tours I am happy to announce “Amtrak’s Carry-On Bicycle Service” is now available on all Empire Service and Maple Leaf trains traversing New York State.
It is much easier for bicyclists traveling with their bicycles to use Amtrak’s New York City to Niagara Falls New York State trains. The new bicycle racks in the Empire Service & Maple Leaf passenger coaches allow the bicyclist to roll/carry their bicycle into the passenger coach and hang their bike on the bike rack. No box or bag required. The bicyclist and their bicycle will be traveling together. These new bicycle racks are now on all northeastern route passenger coaches (except Acela) as well as on the Empire Service & Maple leaf trains.
Daily, there are two trains traveling in both directions between Niagara Falls and New York City. These trains stop at Niagara Falls, Downtown Buffalo (Exchange St.), Buffalo-Depew, Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Utica, Amsterdam, Schenectady, Albany, Hudson, Rhinecliff, Poughkeepsie, & Croton-Harmon. There are eight (8) additional Empire Service trains (with Carry-On Bicycle Service bicycle racks) going no further west than Albany-Rensselaer Station. Due to the pandemic no trains travel north from Albany to Plattsburgh NY/Montreal QC/Rutland VT. When the north/south bound (from/to Albany) Adirondack & Ethan Allen trains return to service they will have bicycle racks in each passenger coach.
Both unboxed & boxed bicycles are carried in the baggage car of Amtrak’s long distance Lake Shore Limited (New York City Chicago) train. Bicyclists using the Lake Shore Limited’s checked bicycle service are limited to departing/alighting only from NYS Amtrak stations having checked baggage service. Like most of Amtrak’s long distance trains, the Lake Shore Limited is to become a thrice weekly train after October 12, 2020. Plus, the Limited stops neither in downtown Buffalo (Exchange St.) nor in Niagara Falls, New York.
In a forthcoming post & article on the New York Bicycling Coalition’s web site/newsletter, I’ll describe how to bicycle tour New York State in short 2-4 day segments using Amtrak and your bicycle. No longer is there a need to drive a car to a start location along the “lateral line” of Amtrak & the Erie Canalway/Empire State Trail when bicycle touring. Hurrah!
To reserve your seat and bicycle rack go to: https://www.amtrak.com/home.html
1. Place your departing & destination stations, date departing/returning, and number of passengers in the boxes on the 1st screen of the Amtrak web site. Click “Find Trains.”
2. A second screen pops up and gives you a choice of trains. You choose the time you want to depart (Train number/name) AND the price you want to pay for your coach or business class seat. Click 1st “Add to Cart.” AND 2nd “Continue.”
3. The “Traveler” information screen appears asking for your name, email address, & telephone number; Amtrak Guest Rewards number, & other information. Fill in the boxes. Click “Continue.”
4. Finally, the “Customize Your Trip” screen pops up! This screen is where you reserve a bicycle rack. This screen tells you how many racks are still available on the train you have chosen to ride and the total fee.
a. If have chosen a round trip reservation, the Amtrak’s booking program assumes you will need a bicycle rack for both ways of your trip. If you need a bicycle rack on only one segment of your round trip then you will have to change the number of bike racks to “1” otherwise the program will automatically add the fee for two bicycle racks.
b. The Carry-On Bicycle Service/Checked Trainside Bicycle Service bicycle carriage fee is not refundable.
c. The Carry-On Bicycle Service bicycle rack reservation fee (for Empire Service & Maple Leaf trains) is $20.00 each separate time you travel by train, that is board a train with your bicycle. If you need a rack on a different train you will have to pay another bicycle rack fee.
For more Amtrak bicycle carriage information: https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/bring-your-bicycle-onboard.html
For tourism information from tourism bureaus mentioned in this article. Specifically ask for bicycle maps and bicycle trail information from tourism bureaus. Let tourism officials know there are bicyclists wanting to visit their area. On the tourism organizations’ web sites search for bicycling information using term: “Things to Do,” “Outdoors,” “Recreation,” “Cycling,” & “Bicycling.”
*Harvey Botzman is a New York Bicycling Coalition Director Emeritus. For 25 years he researched, wrote, edited, & revised 7 bicycle tour guide books His New York State tour guides are “Erie Canal Bicyclist & Hiker Tour Guide,” “Finger Lakes Bicyclist’s Tour Guide,” “’Round Lake Ontario: A Bicyclist’s Tour Guide,” and “’Round Lake Erie: A Bicyclist’s Tour Guide.” All his books are out of print.