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Acela w/ Guest Rewards v. Megabus

Hello Fellow Amtrakers! I hope you're all enjoying your summer and getting a few trips on the rails in. I could use some opinions on Acela and Guest Rewards....

So as you guys who use Acela and have Guest Rewards know riders get a 500 point bonus for riding Acela for a long enough distance (like New York to Boston) and I've had Guest Rewards for about five years now and am finally getting close to the magic number needed to get one free one way ticket in zone 1.

I'm about 500 points away and would certainly love to have the ticket but I'm still not sure if its worth it. I could really use your opinion in my decision making process. I'll brake down my options with a make-shift chart below:

NYC-BOS options:

Acela                                                         Northeast Regional                        Megabus

3 1/2  Hour Trip                                       4 Hour Trip                                       4 Hour Trip
Very Comfortable                                    Pretty Comfortable                         Not So Comfortable
$90-120                                                    $60                                                    $10
500 Guest Rewards Points                  120 Guest Rewards Points          0 Guest Rewards Poi ts

Is it worth it to ride Acela? I love the thought of riding High Speed Rail in the United States and it would be great to have the free ticket but is it worth the monies?  What do you think?


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
I really like taking the train, especially the Acela, which is shiny and fast and clean and all that. But I can't resist the insane cheapness of MegaBus, and I expect I will mostly be taking the bus to New York for the near future. It is SO CHEAP! Where you're close to your rewards program bonus, you can almost look at it as you're getting two trips for the price of one, but even then, MegaBus is cheaper.

Basically it's a personal decision though. Riding the train is nice, but I'd rather spend my money on something else when I have the option.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
I just love the ride on the Acela train, and have used it from time to time when I visit friends in the Boston area, but I mostly use the "Regional" because of the cost. If I did not hate taken LONG bus rides I m-i-g-h-t take the bus ( the last time I did a 4 hour bus ride [not to Boston] I could not wait till I got off the bus.)

You are correct the Acela is a Very Comfortable ride a lot more then the Regional or a bus. Plus remember that the bus can be a lot longer then 4 hours because of traffic problems and on most buses you are stuck in your seat, but on the train you are allowed to get up and walk around.

A note on cost: Sometime I will find a Acela train where the cost is only a few dollars (around $10) more then the regional so I will then take the Acela. This is true on SOME of the short Acela trains, the ones between NYC<->BOSTON and not the full Boston<->DC run.

For what it's worth I di the trains. If you want to save the money and not get the points - take the bus.

Note on points I think I am a few points short [maybe even over] of a Zone 1 round trip - will have to look.

Well whatever you do, enjoy the trip.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
I think I'd rather take the Regional. Nothing against Acela, and if you're in a hurry it's a great ride, but I've got enough time to take the Regional. That, and I'm a little bit too big to fit comfortably in a Megabus seat.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
Well, if you use 5,500 points to get a "free" one-zone ticket that normally costs $200, then the real value of 5,500 AGR points is $200. Then each AGR point is worth $200 / 5,500 = $0.036. So those 380 extra AGR points you get on Acela vs. Regional are worth $13.82.

Amtrak wants you to think that a few hundred AGR points are extremely valuable, but they're really not.
Jul. 29th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)
The NYP-BOS route doesn't have a huge time differential vs. the Regional. I usually took the Regional, but I took the Acela once because the departure/arrival times were exactly what I needed. It's a very nice, comfortable ride, feels a little bit like Star Trek: TNG, and as people said, you can get up, walk around, buy food, spread out at your seat, etc. But there isn't enough high-quality track between NYP and BOS to get the speed bonus - a ton of time is lost both south of Providence as well in that huge loop over Queens where you cross Hells Gate.

That part of the NEC is largely shared with commuter trains, either the Boston MBCR, the CCR (Connecticut Commuter Rail), or Metro-North out of New York, so the areas it can reach full speed are very limited.

Having said all that, check the prices of both - depending on the time of day the difference in price is not always that much - the time savings (and cost) of the Acela is in the NYP-DC route.

Having said all of that too, I would never have taken the bus over the Regional. The trip is too long and being able to nap or eat or do whatever on a smooth and extremely quiet train is worth every penny since you don't arrive in NYC already tired -the view you get of Manhattan from the elevated tracks in Queens is stunning - after you come off of Hells Gate, you enter Queens on an extremely high track that loops through Queens before dropping down into the LIRR rail yards right before you enter Manhattan via tunnel. It's an amazing view, absolutely stunning.

So I guess the short answer - go for the Acela if you think you'll use the free ticket before it expires, and if not, go for the Regional.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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