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Thread: Amtrak to San Antonio?

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    Default Amtrak to San Antonio?

    I am kinda bored and I was kinda missing trains, and tired of driving.. I had an idea to take a train down to San Antonio and hang out there for a few days, but I was realizing it doesn't seem very easy to do. Apparently it's $85 each way, they don't do student discounts, and it's a 12 hour train ride... the last time I booked a 12 hour train ride was across Poland, it cost me about $15, and it ended up being an insane 18 hour train ride.

    There is something wrong with Amtrak if it costs this much (like $160) and is 12 hours just to go to Texas. People may find it odd that some folks who don't use the transportation infrastructure are the ones who argue the hardest for more trains and stuff, or same with bus system and the local streetcar advocates, but this transit infrastructure is simply not usable. It just isn't worth a damn. San Antonio is a 7-8 hour drive. Trains should at least be able to keep up with car travel, both time-wise and cost-wise, especially if the route only has a 1-hr layover in Ft. Worth.
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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Considering that it is only $54 per person round trip, OKC to FTW, maybe you should just consider going there. Plenty to do in FTW as well. The reason it takes 12 hours is because the Heartland Flyer only goes to FTW. You have to connect to the Texas Eagle which runs between Chicago and San Antonio. Trains have layovers too my friend. European trains and Asian trains are better off than the US run Amtrak which is already subsidized, hence your evil ticket pricing.

    Also, regarding your post about about keeping up with the cars. The speed limit for the Heartland Flyer in Oklahoma is 80mph, but once it crosses into Texas they slow down to 55mph. Texas state requirement for Amtrak. Therefore it even effects the Eagle. Kinda lame, but that's why it takes soooooo long. Amtrak operates as scenic trains, not get from point A to point B 3/4 as fast as a plane.

    Lets fill up the Western United States with 1,000 people per square mile all throughout the scenic mountain ranges, make sure they're capable of paying taxes and being honest workers, and by then I'm sure the federally run system will be much cheaper. Probably not though, so enjoy your drive! ;-)

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    My recommendation would be to rent a Jeep Wrangler with the top down and road trip it to SA. You'd have a better experience than riding a slow moving train. Wear lots of sunblock.

    Oh, also I would take I-44 to Wichita Falls and then take 281 South straight into SA. It's a better scenic route than I-35. There are lots of neat small towns along the way including the historic and haunted looking Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, TX.

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    ljbab728 is offline Gold Member
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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    I am kinda bored and I was kinda missing trains, and tired of driving.. I had an idea to take a train down to San Antonio and hang out there for a few days, but I was realizing it doesn't seem very easy to do. Apparently it's $85 each way, they don't do student discounts, and it's a 12 hour train ride... the last time I booked a 12 hour train ride was across Poland, it cost me about $15, and it ended up being an insane 18 hour train ride.

    There is something wrong with Amtrak if it costs this much (like $160) and is 12 hours just to go to Texas. People may find it odd that some folks who don't use the transportation infrastructure are the ones who argue the hardest for more trains and stuff, or same with bus system and the local streetcar advocates, but this transit infrastructure is simply not usable. It just isn't worth a damn. San Antonio is a 7-8 hour drive. Trains should at least be able to keep up with car travel, both time-wise and cost-wise, especially if the route only has a 1-hr layover in Ft. Worth.
    Spartan, I"m not sure what you were looking at, but normal adult roundtrip fares from OKC to San Antonio are $130.00. It would certainly be iffy if you could drive for that amount. And you're wrong about student discounts. They offer a 15% discount for holders of a Student Advantage Discount Card.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    The drive is 470 miles, so if you average 20MPG and gas is $3.50 a gallon, that's about $82 just for gas each way. If you use the IRS standard mileage rate at .55 per mile, that is over $250 each way.

    And yes, it's about four more hours each way on the train, but train time is YOUR time to read, sleep and relax.


    You can't compare European trains due to the density of their population. How many times do you think you'd have to change trains for a 12 hour ride there??

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Brzycki View Post
    The drive is 470 miles, so if you average 20MPG and gas is $3.50 a gallon, that's about $82 just for gas each way. If you use the IRS standard mileage rate at .55 per mile, that is over $250 each way.

    And yes, it's about four more hours each way on the train, but train time is YOUR time to read, sleep and relax.


    You can't compare European trains due to the density of their population. How many times do you think you'd have to change trains for a 12 hour ride there??
    Gas prices are why I came up with this.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    Gas prices are why I came up with this.

    https://sites.google.com/site/okcrail/home
    Your line from OKC to McAlester would have to be rebedded, rebuilt, and relayed with all new tracks and ties. If Union Pacific still owns the right of way between these two cities, I doubt they're going to want to invest their money in it, so you're looking at the state buying it from them and then spending our hard earned money on it. Do you want that tax?

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by redrunner View Post
    My recommendation would be to rent a Jeep Wrangler with the top down and road trip it to SA. You'd have a better experience than riding a slow moving train. Wear lots of sunblock.
    Not sure that I would recommend a convertible this time of year, my top stays up most of the summer. The motorcycle stays in the garage as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by redrunner View Post
    Oh, also I would take I-44 to Wichita Falls and then take 281 South straight into SA. It's a better scenic route than I-35. There are lots of neat small towns along the way including the historic and haunted looking Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, TX.
    I have taken this route when there is bad construction backups on I-35 or when I have ridden the motorcycle up to OKC. A stop at Hard 8 BBQ in Stephenville is always a good stop.

    Also, I would love to redo the Baker Hotel but it seems a hotelier here in Austin is taking it on as a project.

    Statesman.com - Austin hotelier Trigger to lead restoration of Mineral Wells' famous Baker Hotel

    I haven't been by there in about a year to see if they have done anything yet.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    The reason it takes so long is because the trains can't go more than 55mph in texas, if I remember correctly. My mom is deathly afraid of flying so she always uses amtrak, usually the southwest chief though that goes to AZ.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by ljbab728 View Post
    Spartan, I"m not sure what you were looking at, but normal adult roundtrip fares from OKC to San Antonio are $130.00. It would certainly be iffy if you could drive for that amount. And you're wrong about student discounts. They offer a 15% discount for holders of a Student Advantage Discount Card.
    The ISIC/Student Advantage discounts were not valid on OKC-SAS.

    And I had no idea about 55 mph in Texas, now I understand. Imagine that, a stupid law in Texas.. I would totally just do the Jeep through the Hill Country, but I'm already set to drive across the Northern Rockies in a month anyway..
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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Brzycki View Post
    The drive is 470 miles, so if you average 20MPG and gas is $3.50 a gallon, that's about $82 just for gas each way. If you use the IRS standard mileage rate at .55 per mile, that is over $250 each way.

    And yes, it's about four more hours each way on the train, but train time is YOUR time to read, sleep and relax.


    You can't compare European trains due to the density of their population. How many times do you think you'd have to change trains for a 12 hour ride there??
    I'm all about relaxing on trains, but 12 hours is a hard train ride, I've done my share of those. The last time I had a 12 hour train ride, we ended up running someone over in Katowice, PL and then more construction delays made it 18 hours--but it was only like $15. How many times would I change on a European 12 hour train ride? It depends, there are always a dozen daily direct trains between all regional major cities (ie., Krakow to Budapest, Warsaw to Berlin, etc). But if you take an odd night route or something, or if you're getting off the intercity grid, then yeah there can be a switch every hour or so on those kinds of trips. It depends.

    The reason I even bother with the point of why Amtrak is so sucky in this part is because Amtrak actually offers decent service for the Northeast Corridor and somewhat okay service in the Midwest (in/out of Chicago). I am confident that they can do it, there just has to be a will. Believe it or not, the U.S. is not THAT sparsely populated. If you connect Oklahoma to points east and along I-35, it's doable density-wise, and it would be comparable to some places in Europe, particularly Central Europe which is augmented by mountain ranges. Countries like PL, CZ, HU, SK aren't all that dense, and have huge sweeping plains just like OK and MO, in fact, the train scenery there always reminded me of the drive from OKC to Chicago.
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    ljbab728 is offline Gold Member
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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    [QUOTE=Spartan;453719]The ISIC/Student Advantage discounts were not valid on OKC-SAS.QUOTE]

    If you price it on their website, it offers a discount of $19.50 off of the roundtrip fare from OKC to San Antonio

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    I've done it. It was miserable. From what I was told by the people running the Flyer, BNSF doesn't mind AMTRAK (Heartland Flyer) operating on it's lines, but UP does and makes the Texas Eagle have to work around it's freight trains. Not only is it a slow ride, but it is not uncommon to sit in a Texas cornfield for two hours waiting for a broken down freight train get out of the way.

    Also, the scenery is nothing to write home about. As I discovered, the "wrong side of the tracks" are usually BOTH sides of the tracks. You get to see the backside of every Texas city you pass through.

    I wouldn't believe the timetable either. It took me about 16 hours!

    Don't do it.
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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by CuatrodeMayo View Post
    I've done it. It was miserable. From what I was told by the people running the Flyer, BNSF doesn't mind AMTRAK (Heartland Flyer) operating on it's lines, but UP does and makes the Texas Eagle have to work around it's freight trains. Not only is it a slow ride, but it is not uncommon to sit in a Texas cornfield for two hours waiting for a broken down freight train get out of the way.

    Also, the scenery is nothing to write home about. As I discovered, the "wrong side of the tracks" are usually BOTH sides of the tracks. You get to see the backside of every Texas city you pass through.

    I wouldn't believe the timetable either. It took me about 16 hours!

    Don't do it.
    I've heard numerous similar horror stories about flying and driving as well. The scenery from your plane window isn't much to get excited about either and, while I'm sure you had a bad experience, many people enjoy it a lot because it's normally much less hastle, more comfortable, and more relaxing.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by OKCisOK4me View Post
    Your line from OKC to McAlester would have to be rebedded, rebuilt, and relayed with all new tracks and ties. If Union Pacific still owns the right of way between these two cities, I doubt they're going to want to invest their money in it, so you're looking at the state buying it from them and then spending our hard earned money on it. Do you want that tax?
    You must be thinking of a different track than I am. All of the track I used is in use today, at least according to the Oklahoma DOT rail map. The yellow line is in Phase 4 so that is ways off anyhow.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    I'm a bit confused by the OP. If you are taking a train because you want the quickest trip between point a and point b than you will not like it. If you are taking a train because you want something different and have the time to do it than go for it.

    Something to consider. When I was still living in Dallas I took the Texas Eagle to St. Louis with a cousin and friend. We each chipped in $30 extra each, got a sleeper room, and took the night train. IMO it was a very enjoyable experience. We had dinner in the car, met some really interesting people, and when it was late (around Little Rock AR) we simply went to the car and fell asleep. At 8 am we woke up in Downtown St. Louis. No traffic jams, no "whose going to drive" musical chairs, no TSA agent gropefest. Yes it was 15 hours, but we weren't in a hurry to begin with. With that in mind I'm not sure I would have liked it as much w/o the sleeper or having to switch trains. But I still wouldn't discount it.

    Personally, I went to that area last February and I was so burnt out on the stupid drivers and outrageous traffic on 35 my next trip to SA will either involve an Amtrak ticket or Southwest Airline FunFare.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    I also wish we had better train service throughout the country. Hate to say it but even if our wish was granted tomorrow and work began on a great new train project, at the pace our government and those projects move everyone in this thread will either be old and gray or dead before we see something working. Makes one want to not even bother.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Questor View Post
    I also wish we had better train service throughout the country. Hate to say it but even if our wish was granted tomorrow and work began on a great new train project, at the pace our government and those projects move everyone in this thread will either be old and gray or dead before we see something working. Makes one want to not even bother.
    That is true with a nationwide system. However, regional rail systems could be put in place very quickly, but the federal government would have to stay out of it. Just look at how much time is wasted on our streetcar just to apply for federal funding (with no guarantee of getting any). Interurban service between OKC and Tulsa could start relatively soon but the problem becomes, how do you get around in each city once you get there. The local infrastructure has to be in place first.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by adaniel View Post
    I'm a bit confused by the OP. If you are taking a train because you want the quickest trip between point a and point b than you will not like it. If you are taking a train because you want something different and have the time to do it than go for it.
    Well, I think there should be some kind of in-between. I am not expecting high-speed rail service from OKC to San Antonio anytime soon, maybe not even in this lifetime. I don't see why it has to take 12-16 hours though. It is a 7 hour drive, so to me, it would be nice if the train could be maybe an 8-9 hour ride. Basically I just mean that I don't expect rail to ever be the "most convenient" mode of transit, however, it would be nice if it weren't sooo inconvenient. Does that make sense?

    15 hours from San Antonio to St. Louis, considering that distance, is actually not bad at all.
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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    Just look at how much time is wasted on our streetcar just to apply for federal funding (with no guarantee of getting any).
    Yeah, and if that effort comes through, it could be the easiest $50-75M that the city has ever earned. I'm not sure what you're trying to say about federal transit, but that is traditionally how interstate infrastructure gets funded. It's just that we're currently too geared toward highways.
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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    I took Amtrak to San Antonio last fall. I believe we arrived in S.A. about an hour and a half earlier than their schedule would have indicated. I asked the train conductor how come we were so early and he said they build in some wiggle room in the schedule because they don't know what kind of freight traffic will occur. Just know that when u get on in the morning its gonna be an all day trip because its amtrak and all. The stretch to Ft. Worth seems to be fast though.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
    Yeah, and if that effort comes through, it could be the easiest $50-75M that the city has ever earned. I'm not sure what you're trying to say about federal transit, but that is traditionally how interstate infrastructure gets funded. It's just that we're currently too geared toward highways.
    I am saying that instead of the federal government collecting money and sending it back out with all kinds of conditions and studies attached, let the states keep the money and spend it how it is needed locally. The $75 million didn't originate in D.C., they just took it and then gave it back with instructions on how to spend it. Cutting out the middle man (the federal government) would make things less expensive and faster. Even states the receive more in benefits than they pay in would be better off because of the reduciton in red tape.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluedogok View Post
    Also, I would love to redo the Baker Hotel but it seems a hotelier here in Austin is taking it on as a project.

    Statesman.com - Austin hotelier Trigger to lead restoration of Mineral Wells' famous Baker Hotel

    I haven't been by there in about a year to see if they have done anything yet.
    We bought a few acres at PK Lake just before the enormous wildfires this spring. To get there we take TX-180 right through MW. As of a month ago, no work had begun.

    The company I work for is involved in the restoration of the slightly smaller, but no less opulent, Settler Hotel in Big Spring, TX.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    You must be thinking of a different track than I am. All of the track I used is in use today, at least according to the Oklahoma DOT rail map. The yellow line is in Phase 4 so that is ways off anyhow.
    No, I'm pretty sure I know what line I'm talking about. Being a rail buff, I know it used to be a Union Pacific line, formally, MKT. There's many parts of the line that are washed out, especially along the South Canadian River. It may go only as far as Shawnee but beyond that, it's not in operation.

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    Default Re: Amtrak to San Antonio?

    Quote Originally Posted by Just the facts View Post
    I am saying that instead of the federal government collecting money and sending it back out with all kinds of conditions and studies attached, let the states keep the money and spend it how it is needed locally. The $75 million didn't originate in D.C., they just took it and then gave it back with instructions on how to spend it. Cutting out the middle man (the federal government) would make things less expensive and faster. Even states the receive more in benefits than they pay in would be better off because of the reduciton in red tape.
    i don't think i am disagreeing with you unless you are saying Oklahoma is a "Donor State". I have heard that all of my life but recent reading has indicated that the tide has turned on it and we get back more now than what we put in. Of course we probably haven't yet made up for the decades of donor status and the tide could go back out again...

    And your point is taken that the strings and red tape that can be avoided is a plus.

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