Dave Schlabowske
Bike Czar

Amtrak Now Allows Bikes For $5

No more boxing and folding bikes. Hiawatha line to Chicago now has 15 bike racks.

By , Bike Federation of Wisconsin - May 6th, 2016 02:12 pm

It just got a lot easier to travel by Amtrak trains in the midwest. On Wednesday, Amtrak and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that passengers traveling between Milwaukee and Chicago on the Hiawatha will be able to bring their bicycles on board for just $5. Say goodbye to boxing and folding bikes!

You no longer need to bring my folding bike or buy a box to bring a bike on the Amtrak!

You no longer need to bring my folding bike or buy a box to bring a bike on the Amtrak!

The media event was at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, 422 W. St. Paul Avenue, with bicycle riders arriving from Chicago on the train that gets in at 9:54 a.m. Then passengers from Milwaukee boarded with their bikes on the train that leaves for Chicago at 11 a.m.

“We have worked with WisDOT by thinking ‘out of the box’ and mounting 15 bike racks in the control unit on each of the Hiawatha trains,” said Jim Brzezinski, Amtrak Senior Regional Director, State Corridors. “This will make bringing your bike along on these trips more welcoming and get you on your wheels and pedaling away immediately after arrival.”

Passengers must reserve space for their bikes by selecting “add bike” when they book their train travel on Amtrak.com, by calling 800-USA- RAIL, using the staffed ticket offices in Milwaukee or Chicago or by using the Quik-Trak SM kiosks at both stations. There is a $5 charge per bicycle. The Bike Fed has been advocating for this service for the last five years, so we could not be happier to see such a sensible addition to Amtrak services.

The other bit of good news is that Amtrak will add the roll-on bike service to other trains that run through Wisconsin, such as the Empire Builder, which is popular with bicycle tourists as it goes to Glacier National Park and the Pacific Northwest. Amtrak currently offers this service on the Crescent, Silver Star, Silver Meteor and Capitol Limited lines (using bag coach on the CL), and the rest of long distance routes will be phased in, hopefully by the end of summer, perhaps earlier.  Currently, if you want to check a bike on the Empire Builder, you still need to use the box method at all checked baggage locations along the route.

With almost 800,000 passengers last year, the Hiawatha Service is the busiest Amtrak corridor in the Midwest, offering seven daily round-trips Mondays through Saturdays and six round-trips on Sundays under a sponsorship shared by WisDOT and the Illinois Department of Transportation with Amtrak. More information is at AmtrakHiawatha.com.

5 thoughts on “Bike Czar: Amtrak Now Allows Bikes For $5”

  1. Jerry says:

    Things just keep getting better for bicyclists!

  2. pumpernickel says:

    I was losing hope this would ever happen. This made my day! ツ

  3. Phil says:

    This is wonderful news! No more cab rides or long walks downtown. Hopefully there will be a need to add more space for bikes in the future.

  4. David says:

    I hope to take advantage of this service at least once.

  5. Rich says:

    Really excited about this…about time. However, what’s the purpose of checking “add bike” on their website to reserve space for the bike when buying a ticket on an unreserved train like the Hiawatha? Hopefully, they’ll expand the bike capacity in response to demand.

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