Report by Anthony Lee with Russ Jackson
Amtrak no longer prints a national timetable as they had been doing since day one in 1971. Instead, the entire national schedule appears on line as it would have been, if printed. It isn’t easy to find, but here is how you can get it: Go to
https://www.amtrak.com/train- schedules-timetables ; When you get to that page, a small blue line half way down says,
Amtrak System Timetable – May 2017 (PDF, 6MB) There it is, all 138 pages, and you can print the pages you want.
Amtrak has been adding some bus connections to the long distance trains. The connection that started last year for the Southwest Chief between Newton, Kansas, and Oklahoma City that connects with the Heartland Flyer can be found on page 79. New this year is the connection to/from the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle at Maricopa, Arizona to Phoenix, making a formal connection that has been needed since 1997. Its schedule, seen below, is found on page 82 of the new timetable.
However, there is a new bus route that cannot be found in the timetable unless you know it’s there and try to book a ticket on it. That’s a bus connection to/from Wyoming to the California Zephyr at Denver. This new thruway bus service is provided by Powder River Stage lines, serving the Wyoming cities along Interstate 80 and along the Interstate 25 corridor in Colorado. It follows the former routes of the Desert Wind/Pioneer trains that were eliminated in 1997 and the BNSF’s The Cowboy line that ran to Billings, Montana, from Denver, which hasn’t run since the 1960s. The new bus connection will be serving the Powder River Basin region, the state Capitol Cheyenne, the University of Wyoming at Laramie, Colorado State University at Ft. Collins, plus the cities of Douglas, Buffalo, Casper, Evanston, Rawlins, Rock Springs, and Wheatland in Wyoming, and Greeley, Colorado. This route is similar to the long bus routes in California that connect with the Capitol Corridor, the San Joaquins, and the Pacific Surfliners.
Anthony Lee discovered this new bus route, and with some research we found that it does exist and tickets are available. On http://www.amtrak.com we entered the request for a ticket from Laramie, WY, to Omaha, NE. The following ticket was confirmed:
But, wait a minute. What if folks who would use that new connection tried looking in the traditional place…the timetable? Was there any publicity about this bus distributed in Wyoming or Colorado? We don’t know. We decided to write to Amtrak Customer Service Support to tell them about this, which we did on Thursday, May 25. The reply came back on Saturday, May 27. It said, “Thank you for contacting us in regard to your travel plans. The connection from Cheyenne, WY or Laramie, WY to Omaha, NE is by a bus from Cheyenne or Laramie to Denver, CO and an Amtrak train from Denver to Omaha. Thank you for bringing it to our attention that the bus schedule is not in the published timetable. We have sent your feedback to our Scheduling Department. Meanwhile, you can view the schedule by entering your departure and arrival stations, the date and number of passenger(s) under the tab Buy Tickets on amtrak. com. We hope this information is helpful. Sincerely, (signed) Amtrak Customer Service.” How about that? Well, that was a good response and is appreciated. However, this article is written on June 8 and no change is evident on the Amtrak site related to this bus. Looks like we will have to wait until the October timetable.