Thursday, May 3, 2012

Congress urges Amtrak to provide roll-on/roll-off service to Pittsburgh

The Great Allegheny Passage has become a very popular destination for many touring cyclists. Several touring companies sponsor sagged tours, but I would guess the majority of riders are self-supported.

One of the challenges of self-supported touring is transporting your bike for one leg of the journey. Amtrak’s Capitol Limited Route between DC and Pittsburgh is one option. Currently your bike must be boxed for travel on the train. Roll-on/roll-off service would be much more convenient for cyclists and would likely attract many more passengers traveling the Passage.

We were encouraged to see that 18 members of Congress, including Representatives Connolly, Moran, and Norton, recently signed a letter to Joseph Boardman, President and CEO of Amtrak, asking that roll-on/roll-off service be provided:
May 2, 2012

Joseph H. Boardman
President and Chief Executive Officer
National Railroad Passenger Corporation
60 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Mr. Boardman,

Thank you for your interest in providing enhanced bicycle service to your riders. We are encouraged by the prospects of Amtrak being able to offer roll-on / roll-off accommodations to travelers with bicycles on the Capitol Limited route and strongly urge you to move foreword with implementing these improvements as soon as possible.

As you know, the Capital Limited line parallels the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal towpath, which together make a 335-mile bike trail that connects Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC. These trails were recently featured in the Washington Post travel section and are increasingly recognized as an international tourist destination. There are over 3.5 million visits to the Great Allegheny Passage trail system every year, many of them long distance riders who need transportation for themselves and their bicycles.

Roll-on / roll-off bicycle service is an important transportation improvement and will serve as a model for expunging this type of service nationwide. Providing these accommodations will help Amtrak attract new customers and will enhance tourism and economic development. These improvements are truly a winning proposition for everyone involved and we look forward to their successful implementation.

Thank you in advance of your attention tot his important issue. We look forward to continuing to work with you on solutions to allow this serve to begin as soon as possible, as well as long term options for dedicated rail equipment to handle bicycles efficiently and safely that help contribute to increased ridership for Amtrak, enhanced tourism, and economic development.


Bill Shuster, Earl Blumenauer, Corrine Brown, Mark S. Critz, Gerald E. Connolly, Peter DeFazio, Jeff Dunham, Mike Doyle, Bob Filner, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Dennis J. Kucinich, Patrick Meehan, Jim Moran, Jerrold Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Laura Richardson, Tim Ryan, and Edolphus Towns, Members of Congress.

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That is terrific news. I work in a bicycle shop in No. Va. We tell customers about the trail all of the time. Great way to spend a long weekend. Getting there is always the problem. Let's hope AMTRAK listens.

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