Basses on Amtrak?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by bellabass, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. Hi,
    I need to get from Boston to NYC with my bass in a Gage case and I'm looking for an easier/cheaper option than the plane. I know that the train is pretty fast, has anyone here had experience of taking their bass on an Amtrak train? I emailed Amtrak and they told me to purchase an additional seat. Obviously, my bass in its flight case would not fit, but I was thinking that maybe I could squeeze it in a wheelchair accessible area on the train... presuming that that exists. Can anybody help, advice etc? It's hard to organize this sort of thing from the other side of the world.
  2. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    I used to ship most of my basses by Amtrak for about $75.00 anywhere in the country in my David Gage case. A few years ago Amtrak changed their freight rules and will not ship anything that large any more. DANG!
  3. ctcruiser

    ctcruiser Guest

    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    The business class car (right behind the engine) has several spots that should have plenty of room for your bass case.

    Getting on in Boston, you would be one of the first getting on board the train, so you should be able to park it safely.

    If in doubt, stop by the train station and go to the track for the southbound Amtrak and ask the conductors. Most of them are very friendly and will give you an honest answer. You could even get on board quickly to take a peek before they leave the station.

    Bonus - -It is next to the bar car!
  4. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    There is another way. Just take it in a soft case. There are usually spaces at the end of the cars for luggage and often there is a closet type space (without a door) with enough vertical to hold a bass. I just bungie it in place. If you are really concerned you can just stay with the bass in between the cars, I've done that as well.
  5. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I'd also check the dining car. I take Amtrak to get back home for weekend trips. On the times where the train is over sold-they have the rest of us sit in the dining car. Last time, there was a guy in a wheel chair in this big open space. I think a bass could easily fit there.

    Also-if the train isn't super crowded, depending on the train that i take-there's often a set of 4 seats all facing each other, the bass would take up at least 2 of those and fit comfortably.
  6. Cool, thanks for all of the good avice.
    I would love to visit the train station and ask the conductor but we don't have Amtrak in New Zealand! Bummer. Also since I will have travelled with my bass to the USA by plane it will have to be in the flight case.
    It sounds like my bass would fit somewhere, maybe I'll just risk it and turn up at the station with it on the day.
  7. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    Amtrak stopped taking basses in boxes and shipping containers because of the events of 9/ll, but I have heard, though not confirmed that they will accept them again.

    I took my bass on Amtrak once and had been told I would have to purchase an extra seat. I boarded the train where they did not have a ticket agent available. When I told the conducter about the extra fare for the bass he said "that's rediculous" and didn't charge me. But they had a lot of empty seats that day. My bass was in a padded bag and not a "flight" case.
  8. basswraith


    Mar 10, 2003
    If you look for the handicap sign on the out side of the car, that tells you which car has a few seats taken out to make extra space. U can rest your bass down there. Its usually at the front of the train car. Good luck.
  9. tmw

    tmw Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 17, 2006
    Delmar, NY
    I took my UB from Albany to NYC a couple of months back. Not knowing about any restrictions, the conductor told where I could place my bass (nicely, of course) and off we went. There was a designated area for luggage and it worked out fine. Since I had a ride home, I cannot say the return trip would have been as pleasant.
  10. mheintz

    mheintz Guest

    Nov 18, 2004
    In the past, I bought a seat. Or twice, when I travelled from Boston to New York to DC to Cincinnati, I got a sleeper, put the bass under the bed and slept on top. I wouldn't recommend it, but it was cheaper than flying.
  11. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    "If you look for the handicap sign on the out side of the car"

    Are you suggesting something about DB players? :)
  12. A few years ago I took Amtrak from here, Oakland (San Francisco Bay Area) to Seattle, I had a solo gig that would pay for the ticket and still a small fee, where If I flew it would all get eaten up by the oversize charges. I brought a soft case and Bungy chords and put it behind my seat in the very last row I bungy chorded it in. It was great and a nice way to travel but it took 25 hours or so.
    The next week I went to Austria for some gigs and it took about 4 or 5 hours less to fly from SF to Munich and take a train through the alps to Linz!
    That trip was about 19 or 20 hours in total.
  13. Cool thanks everyone.
    My new plan is to ditch my Gage case in Boston, amtrak with my bass to NYC in it's soft case for my audition, amtrak back to Boston with it to pick up the Gage, and fly with it to Houston from Boston for my next audition.
    Complicated, but it seems to me that the hard case is the problem here, and not the bass-on-train part. Sounds like I'll have no issues taking it on in it's bag.
  14. MingusAmongUs


    Nov 11, 2006
    Newtown, CT
    Oh the things we bassists must do...
    sometimes I really DO wish I played the flute!

    just kidding.
  15. isolated

    isolated Zenji

    Dec 7, 2004
    Hey BB,

    Let us know how this works out. I'll be doing some east coast schlepping in the next few months and as I have no driver's license, I'd love to know if this is a viable transport method.

  16. Andrew Chilcote

    Andrew Chilcote

    Mar 20, 2007
    I've taken Amtrak twice from Boston to New York and back again and here's what I've experienced.

    Both times getting on in Boston: It was like they didn't even notice I had the instrument with me

    Both times getting on in New York: Gave me total **** about it, made me buy an extra seat and still threatened me with making me check it.

    Personally, I never want to ride Amtrak again back from New York. If you must do it, buy an extra ticket ahead of time, and show both tickets when they're letting you on the platform, then hide one of them as you get on the train, and only give the conductor one to click, unless he demands a second ticket for your bass. If he doesn't click the 2nd ticket (happened to me only once), you can return it at the station in Boston minus 10%, no questions asked.
  17. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Andrew has the right idea. The only thing I would add is to have a selection of different length bungee cords. If you can spring for the Acela, you get better treatment at both ends as well.
  18. BenRechel

    BenRechel Guest

    Aug 15, 2013
    Before the Oct 2013 luggage policy revision, I'd just show up with it, be friendly and courteous, and put it in an empty seat or tie it up at the end of the car- I always travel with a bag of rope and bungee cords, regardless of my means of travel, so that I'm prepared.
    Since then, I've bought a child seat and put the bass next to me many times and the conductor simply chuckles and moves on.