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train reservations

Ellen on 11/14/2021 3:21:42 PM:
Greetings Seven of us are planning to bike between Buffalo and Syracuse May 31st to June 7th. Not sure which town we will begin and start. Still figuring our preferences. We will use the train to return to our cars. My question is....should we lock in reservations now or can we wait til much later such as beginning of May. We still have a couple who are not yet committed. I'm not sure how quickly the train fills up or is heavily used that time of year. Is it reasonable that we could just show up day of and purchase a seat with our bicycles? Truly appreciate your feedback and insight!

wnybubba from Bflo/Roc on 11/18/2021 8:11:14 PM:
Couple thoughts here... unlike getting a bike rack on Amtrak in DC or Pittsburgh (GAP and C&O trails), securing a rack for returns on the Erie Canalway is much less crowded and offers more service. That said, you definitely want to make advance reservations. Obviously weekend travel is busier than weekdays - so that plays into your planning. I would hardly ever consider biking without a reservation unless I had plenty of time and a place to stay. First issue: I'm not sure that any Amtrak train can handle 7 bicycles. A quick look shows that the Maple Leaf and Empire Service only carry 4 bikes and the Lake Shore Limited handles 6. You get to figure out how you are going to handle those logistics! Looks like there are trains that are a couple hours apart. I was going to advise that you should watch and see when racks began to sell, but in your case, that won't work well in that you need them all. So I guess you should nail down a date and press on with reservations ASAP. I'm thinking that could be as late as February or March and still be good -- especially if you are a little bit flexible on starting/ending dates, but in any event, the sooner the better. Also, there are different levels of ticketing. If the one couple was hesitant, they can purchase refundable tickets. Now, for the big question... why so long to bike 150 miles? That's like a three day ride for most people. Just throwing it out there as an observation. Possibly you are planning stay-overs along the way. On other tip... if you are trying to look at availability online and having difficulty (you have to select a train/ticket before you can see the racks available), telephone Amtrak ticketing because the Agent can see what racks are available over multiple trains/days. Have a fun trip. Planning is a fun part of it. PS - Leave extra time to get to your return train so you aren't having to worry about getting there in case of some mishap. The ride should be no-stress!