No Class in Business Class.

I frequently take the Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Chicago and, rather than book a sleeping car all the way, I buy a Business Class ticket from Boston to Albany and book a sleeper from there to Chicago.

There are two reasons for this. First, I save about $50. Second, after the Boston section joins the New York section in Albany, anyone in the Boston sleeper has to walk through at least six coaches to get to the dining car. 

The business class car is divided roughly into thirds. In one section of the car—a little over a third, I’d say— are big comfortable seats, two on one side of the aisle, one seat on the other side.

There’s a middle section where an attendant serves food and drink to all passengers, both business class and coach.

The other third of the rail car is a lounge area supposedly for all passengers. It’s fitted out with five booths, each accommodating four people.

Except that one of those booths is posted as being for use by the conductors only and is off limits to all passengers.

And now Amtrak has removed two other booths and replaced them with—yes— bicycle racks!

What’s wrong with that, you ask? Well, in addition to the jarring appearance of bicycle racks in the middle of what purports to be a lounge, the fact is it leaves only two booths for an entire trainload of passengers. Some “lounge area” that is!

Rail Passengers Association president and CEO Jim Mathews points out that the conductors really do need a workspace to deal with all their paperwork and it does seem that the lounge car is the only practical place for that. But, says Mathews, any new coaches should have a small private office area specifically dedicated for use by the conductors. 

And accommodating bikers and their bikes is a fine idea, but there has to be a better way than having them in racks in the middle of the lounge car. There just has to be!