Here is the news release from Caltrans, which funds Amtrak service in California:
Caltrans, Amtrak Announce New Bike Reservation Policy to Improve Customer Service and Enhance Safety
SACRAMENTO – Amtrak California passengers traveling with bicycles can reserve onboard bike rack space free of charge beginning June 1, 2013 when booking travel on Pacific Surfliner trains.
“We heard our customers and we responded,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Caltrans eliminated the $5 bike reservation fee to make it as easy as possible to bring your bike along when riding the Pacific Surfliner trains.”
Previously, without a bike reservation system in place, when bike racks became full, passengers had no choice but to store bikes next to luggage storage areas or walkways. At times, if bike traffic became too heavy, bike passengers would not be allowed to board at all.
“With bike reservations, planning travel is made easier by enabling bike-toting passengers to choose an alternate train should their first choice be fully booked.
It’s truly a win-win,” said Caltrans Division of Rail Chief Bill Bronte.
While there is no cost to reserve a bike slot, reservations will be required for each travel segment and must accompany a valid Amtrak ticket. Bike reservations can be made one of several ways: Online when booking tickets at AmtrakCalifornia.com (click “Add Bike to Trip” after selecting the departure and class of service); at Quik-Trak kiosks (visit the Amtrak California Station Directory for kiosk locations); from station ticket agents; or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.
Amtrak Multi-Ride Ticket holders (10-trip or Monthly Pass) can only obtain bike reservations through station ticket agents or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. Amtrak has issued refunds to passengers who booked and paid for bike reservations in advance.
Most trains can accommodate six bikes. Passengers should reserve space as early as possible, as bike space is limited and may not be available on all trains or departures. All bike passengers are responsible for securing their own bicycles in provided bike racks.
About Amtrak California: Under the Amtrak California banner, Caltrans funds three of the five busiest intercity passenger rail routes in the Amtrak system: the Pacific Surfliner(r) corridor (ranked second), the Capitol Corridor(r) (ranked third), and the San Joaquin(r) corridor (ranked fifth). Caltrans manages both the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin corridors. The Capitol Corridor, although funded by Caltrans, is managed by the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority. Visit us at www.amtrakcalifornia.com; join us on Facebook at Facebook.com/AmtrakCalifornia or follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/Amtrak_CA.
What really needs to happen is a top-to-bottom restructuring and rescheduling of rail service between Oxnard and San Diego, as this is where Caltrans (Amtrak Pacific Surfliner) runs in tandem with SCRRA (Metrolink) and NCTD (Coaster).
The trains ought to supplement each other, and provide connections at key transfer points for those wishing to travel to stations not served by a Pacific Surfliner that ought to be making fewer stops.
One big problem with the above policy is the hassle that pass-holders will now have to go through to bring bikes on the Surfliner as well as the conflicting policies about who is a minor and how they can ride that exists between Amtrak, SCRRA and NCTD. These both are highlighted when one type of service is pressed into serving the others passengers if there is a service disruption, which is more and more common as equipment ages.
If you have a foldable bike, do you have to make a bike reservation?