Amtrak’s Cascades trains can now carry ten bikes, a small but potentially trip-saving change for a route that connects some of the continent’s bikiest cities.
The train connects Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, passing through Bellingham, Seattle and Portland. The fact that the train carries any non-boxed bikes at all is enough to make east coasters drool, and is necessary if the train wants to fend off competition from cheaper intercity transit options like the relatively new Bolt Bus.
Taking a bike on Amtrak costs $5 and must be reserved in advance. Too often, people booking late discover that all the bike spots have been taken, and it is especially not dependable to buy a ticket at the gate and expect a bike space to be open.
Bolt Bus, while not nearly as pleasant a journey (I-5 is a soul-sucking place), is much cheaper and does not require a bike reservation. However, your bike will not get the same TLC as it will on Amtrak: On Bolt Bus, it is treated as oversized baggage and shoved into the underbelly cargo area of the coach, but on Amtrak it will be hung on a bike rack in the baggage train.
More details on the changes, from WSDOT:
The Washington State Department of Transportation and Amtrak recently added more bicycle storage racks to all Amtrak Cascades trains, with space for 10 bicycles now available. Riders can reserve a seat and bike space through amtrakcascades.com/ or by calling 1-800 -USA- RAIL.
“Washington is a six-time champ as the top bicycle-friendly state and these bike racks will make it easier for bicyclists to combine Amtrak Cascades and bicycle travel to tour the Pacific Northwest – from Eugene, Ore. to Vancouver, BC, and all stops in between,” said Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson.
On-board bicycle storage racks must be reserved in advance and can only accommodate standard bicycles. The racks allow Amtrak staff to hang and secure standard bicycles on the walls of baggage cars. Tandem, recumbent, or other specialized bicycles will require a bicycle bag or box and must be checked as baggage at staffed Amtrak stations. Travelers who do not have a bicycle box can purchase one at staffed Amtrak stations for $15.
When Amtrak Cascades trains began service in 1999, six bicycle storage racks were included in each train’s baggage car.
To reserve a bicycle rack, buy tickets early for the best fares. All cities are on sale at 25 percent off when purchased early. Once on the train, local food and drink is available in recently- upgraded bistro cars.