Monday, January 30, 2006

Acela on the Weekends

Amtrak announced this weekend that it will introduce a new pricing system for Acela and Metroliner trains beginning in early February. Currently Amtrak offers two fares for these trains--peak and off-peak. The new system will add what we might call a "peak-peak" and an "off-off-peak" fare, one very expensive, the other quite affordable. So, instead of two fares, there will now be four. The off-off peak fares, not surprisingly, will apply to certain weekend trains, and the peak-peak fares, I suspect, will apply to rush-hour trains on weekdays.

For those of us with flexible travel schedules, this is a wonderful opportunity. One-way Acela fares between DC and Boston, for example, may now cost as little as $150.00 on Saturdays. And if you're not aware, Amtrak already allows--and will continue to allow--the use of "Discounts" on off-peak Acela fares. That means that I can ride the Acela between DC and Boston (on a Saturday) for $128.35 one way ($151 minus my 15% Student Advantage Discount).

Amtrak is making these changes to maximize profit on the Northeast Corridor. The off-off peak fares will enable them to fill empty weekend trains, and the peak-peak fares will allow them to extract more money from passengers riding the very popular weekday Acela (and in particular, early morning and early evening) routes. If you feel like splurging, upgrade to first class for $94 each way. Ouch!


Anonymous Soren said...

Ben, is the cheapest one way Acela fare still more expensive than the average advance plane ticket between Dc and BOS?

6:08 PM  
Blogger Evan said...


7:28 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

(oh, and hi, Patrick!)

7:29 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Yes, but you have to consider how stressful it can be to fly out of DC and of Logan. I, too, am more inclined to fly that route, but put me in a long security line at BWI or at the gate of a delayed flight at Reagan (there's not much standing room), and I'll be pining away for the "all aboard" call. Remember, too, that with Amtrak you can simply show up and hop aboard the train. No lines, no security, no hassles--except when a power line collapses or a freight train derails, but that's another story.

8:36 PM  

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