Amtrak launches new carry-on bike service for the Vermonter — just in time for Bay State Bike Week 2016.
The service, which is a two-year pilot project, provides passengers on the Vermonter with the opportunity to travel with their bikes for the first time in over a decade.
The pilot service was spurred by Amtrak’s work with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont Department of Tourism, Adventure Cycling Association, and the Vermont Rail Action Network, a state-wide rail advocacy group. And while initial space for bikes is a bit limited (3 bikes per train at the moment, with space for a 4th bike to be added in June), it is expected that additional space for bikes may be added if the demand is there.
You can reserve space for your bicycle on the Vermonter by selecting “Add bike to trip” when you book train travel on Amtrak.com, by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL, or by visiting a staffed Amtrak ticket office.
The cost is $10/bike for travel between St. Albans, Vt, and New Haven, Conn., and $20/bike if you trip involves a station south of New Haven.
Here are the basic guidelines:
• Only standard size bicycles are permitted at this time.
• Each passenger may bring one bicycle.
• You must be physically capable of lifting your bicycle up to shoulder height.
• You must have a travel document (ticket) for your bike
Traveling with your bike on the Vermonter
Look for the “bike-friendly” sticker on the coach when your train pulls in to the station.
Once on the train, bicycles will be stored in a special luggage compartment which has been designed to convert into a bike rack.
After boarding, you will be required to remove the front wheel of your bicycle before hanging it by the back wheel and securing it using the provided strap. Loading instructions will be available in the bike rack area and Amtrak crew members will be available to assist if necessary.
If equipped with panniers, a large seat or saddle bags, the items must be removed from the bicycle before hanging it on the bike rack.
A little history
Longtime passengers on the Vermonter may recall that the train had its own baggage car up until about 2004. Since then it hasn’t, until now, been possible to bring a bike with you on the Vermonter unless it could be folded up and loaded as carry on luggage.
Groups in Vermont, notably the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Vermont Rail Action Network, have been in discussions to get bikes back on the Vermonter for the past five years.
A better long-term solution, if the demand is there and the economics work, would be to add one of Amtrak’s new bicycle friendly baggage cars (shown below) to the Vermonter during the cycling season. These cars are in service today on many of Amtrak’s long distance routes.
Bring Your Bicycle Onboard (Amtrak)
“Amtrak Launches Roll-on Bicycle Service on the Vermonter May 1st”
Adventure Cycling Association | May 3, 2016
“The Vermonter to offer carry-on bike service” (archived)
By Judy Simpson | WCAX-TV Burlington, Vt. | April 29, 2016
(includes video that demonstrates the process for taking a bike on the train.)
Last updated: May 4, 2016