Charter bus ridesharing: Skedaddle app

Two years in the game, Skedaddle seems primed for a classic hockey-stick adoption curve. One advantage of a charter bus is you are more likely to get like minded people aboard, by the natural grouping associated with finding and installing a particular app. Fifteen riders 48 hours prior to start are required or the ride will be cancelled. To help meet this requirement, consider the following points.

Some rides I see start in the originator’s neighborhood, which may not be convenient to others. Just like Uber Pool, Lyft Line and the like, moving a block over (several blocks perhaps for Skedaddle) will give you a better chance at a desirable ride.

Make the time and location value-adds vs. just using Amtrak

Some rides I see cost more than the equivalent Amtrak ticket plus Uber at both ends. I suppose the appeal in this case is getting fans of the particular event all together. Otherwise, maybe they had a bad train/bus experience motivating the move to charter bus sharing.

What could Amtrak do to avoid further ridership loss to bus-sharing

Despite some Amtrak trains selling out on the Northeast Corridor at popular times, more growth is possible for Amtrak and they shouldn’t simply say we don’t have enough trains. Increasing demand allow raising ticket prices. Many of these could be resolved by having an OBS chief onboard, like the Auto Train uses for a single-point escalation of customer service issues, and keeping the staff from straying too far from service standards.

Trash/restrooms

One of the biggest complaints is of towels overflowing onto the restroom floor. Are disposable gloves and Swiffers too expensive? Maybe a disinfectant spray?

Amtrak Wifi is still fundamentally broken on the Northeast Corridor

Even in Acela Express first class, where one pays up to $441 for a one-way ticket, Wifi works very poorly, even in urban areas, even when the built-in usage meter says less than 100 devices are using the Wifi. First Class boards first, yet upon boarding the high latency low bandwidth connection faults are already apparent. As I have for years, I simply use 4G from my own device.

Amtrak OBS: Spotty performance

Even in Acela Express first class, OBS (on board service staff) attitudes can be surly or brusque and some pretend not to know what hot towel service is, despite the top-line billing of this service on the Acela website. There really needs to be a “secret rider” program instituted, giving out swag (e.g. free AGR points) to paying Acela Express First Class customers and have them note service deficiencies

Amtrak conductors: spotty performance

I have repeatedly observed that the conductors on the Amtrak state-contract routes like Michigan Service and Shore Line East in Connecticut have a vastly better attitude and treatment of customers than the Amtrak-owned routes. Some of the rudest conductors are on the Northeast Corridor. Some examples

  • rudely awakening passengers on 66/67 at NYP for tickets, when the tickets are left on the tray or seatback
  • rude treatment of late-upgraded first class Acela Express when upgrade didn’t show in system (this was pre-eTicket)
  • taking up one booth per conductor or conductor pair in the lounge car, especially when all other booths are full

Amtrak equipment maintenance: customer facing

Even in Acela Express first class (notice the theme?)

  • seat window curtains might be tattered and frayed at the bottom.
  • lavatory mirror might be deeply scratched and corroded
  • doors to vestibule might not stay closed