Saturday, September 5, 2015

Amtrak Train Memories & Improvements

The first time I rode the train in the United States, I was with my mom and my pink rabbit blanket. My baby sister was there, too, and we were headed to Denver, Colorado from Nebraska. I was four-and-a-half.

I remember the big, bright window best - looking out while I felt the train chug along beneath me. That memory is a good one, one that I think about once or twice a year. It was exciting to have my rabbit blanket with me, to see the outside zoom past like it does in the car, and to be traveling. I liked that my mom and my sister and I were together with a few select belongings stuffed into a suitcase.

The realities of riding the train as an adult did not bother my memory or my experience of riding the Amtrak train from Seattle to the San Francisco area. It took us twenty-three hours, and I knew to adjust my expectations. I enjoyed the parts I enjoyed and was patient with the parts tied to reality and people being people. That did not stop me from making a list of improvements, however.

Amtrak Train Improvements:
  1. Be nice, man (have respect for the passengers). Right off the bat, the loud-spoken Amtrak attendant responds to an older couple whose English is not their native language, “I CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOU.” Really? Not cool. It upset me, especially when I thought about how kind the Korean and Japanese transportation workers were to me when I was traveling.
  2. Have signs posted with all the information announced several times an hour over the shoddy loudspeaker. Let us read and give our ears and minds a break.
  3. Serve Korean food on board. Korean dishes like bibimbap 비빔밥 and kimbap 김밥 shine in on-the-go type situations. Easy prep, storage and presentation beauties, and yummy healthy.
  4. Wifi please!
  5. Passengers who know how to be passengers. Get your crap together, people. Read about the train and know where it goes.
  6. Be faster. I got spoiled in Korea and Japan with bullet trains. I remember wishing the train ride from Kyoto and Tokyo had been longer. It was that fast (and that comfortable).
All in all, it was a fun, new way to get from Seattle to San Francisco, or technically Oakland, California. Would I do it again? Maybe. There were some lovely views and the leisure of not having to drive was fantastic. It was an experience! Something different - a different way to get around and spend money. But there are also a number of kinks in the system. When I rode the subway and train in Korea...

Steady, camera. Also, the noise in video is the Car Attendant vacuuming.

Helpful Amtrak Train Links:

Amtrak Train Website - Home Page of Amtrak

Amtrak National Route Map - Online PDF Color Route Map

Amtrak Destinations Tab - 'Plan Your Trip' Interactive Map

The Coast Starlight Train - This is the train we took (West Coast sites)

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