Well, I made it to Santa Barbara from San Diego. And it’s terrific to be here with Clare and Archie.

But boy am I annoyed about having had to drive.

When it came to choosing a way to get to San Diego from Tucson, it was pretty much a no brainer, Frankie’s car phobia notwithstanding. It’s not a terribly long trip — a total of about 7 hours — and long stretches of I-8 are pristine desert.  Until we got close to San Diego, there was very little traffic. And although flying would have been faster, it also would have been far more expensive. Trying to deal with the insulin and needles that Frankie requires — not to mention having to inform him that he is carry-on baggage — would not have been much fun either. Once I got to San Diego, I would have had to rent a car, which would have added to the expense.

Besides I was really, really excited about stopping at Dateland and having a World Famous Date Shake.

But the much-dreaded trip from San Diego via the L.A. freeways sucked as badly as I anticipated. Despite all the calming aids I gave him, Frankie reverted to his stand-and-pant stress mode when we got stuck in LAX traffic and when I missed a freeway turnoff and had to do a lot of complicated things to get back on track.

And here’s the thing, speaking of getting back on track. I’ve taken Amtrak on this route several times. It’s relaxing, scenic — we’re talking a train called the Pacific Surfliner — and not terribly expensive ($40 each way). I love train travel. But because Frankie was with me, the Surfliner was not an option.

That’s right. With the exception of service dogs, pets are not permitted on Amtrak. Not even little ones, placed under the seat. What’s with that? They were allowed in the past. And the airlines can figure out how to make traveling with small pets not only feasible, but profitable. Why can’t Amtrak?

I’ve ranted about this before, but it was abstract. Now I’m pissed. Not only for me but for Frankie, who deserves better than the L.A. freeways.

8 thoughts on “Damn you, Amtrak!”

  1. What timing. I have a link to Amtrak’s pet policy explanation on my blog today. http://peggyfrezon.blogspot.com/ Amtrak’s comment begins “Many people ask why Amtrak does not allow pets on trains (other than guide animals, of course, which are allowed)” and continues to state that pets used to be allowed in sleeper cars and the baggage cars, but new regulations changed that. “Amtrak determined that it would need to spend $13.8 million on baggage car changes and special animal shelters in stations to satisfy the new regulations, and ended the carriage of pets rather than comply.”
    So of course it all comes down to the buck.
    I agree it would be a wonderful option to allow pets on trains. Sorry for you and Frankie.

    1. Convergence of great minds, Peggy 😉 And thanks for the sympathy! But $13.6 million — or whatever the current calculation might be — is a drop in the bucket when compared to possible revenues that could be gained by having owners pay a fee to take their pets along.

  2. Eric’s comment: v. funny:)) Only Amtrak could take a money making proposition and drop it with both hands. Painfully obvious via Peggy Frezon’s citation of Amtrak’s reasoning that new thinking is not something that occurs at board meetings. You’re exactly right when you ask what’s the problem, if airlines can allow pets that fit under the seat, why can’t Amtrak do the same?

  3. Interesting that Amtrak is doing such damage control explaining why they can’t do something.

    Sounds like there needs to be a gorilla grassroots campaign. Eric, I love your smart comment.

    Last time I was in L.A., a few us took the train to Santa Barbara thinking it would a fun excursion. It wasn’t because the train was about 2 hours late getting into SB which cut our time drastically while actually in SB.

    Amtrak has such promise but then it doesn’t.

    1. Getting stuck in L.A. traffic also cuts back visiting time considerably… and at least you can read a good book/hang out with your friends while you wait.

  4. Amtrak is not profitable and is subsidized by the tax payers. I agree with Edie. I would take the Pacific Surfliner train from Orange County to San Diego more often if I could take my Pug dog Winston.

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