Why is Amtrak Slow? (And how you can help)

Train travel is a great way to get where you’re going while also seeing areas you otherwise wouldn’t. In fact, most of the developed world heavily travels by train. However, the United States of America doesn’t have the same type of love affair with rail as we do with automobiles.

While Europe and most of Asia has adopted not only train travel but high speed rail, America is left with antiquated infrastructure that often causes traveling by train to be slower than traveling by car. With Amtrak being the only major commercial rail travel company available, one has to ask “Why is Amtrak so slow?”

There are two main reasons why Amtrak routes are so slow — freight trains and old infrastructure. Train dispatchers routinely prioritize freight loads over commercial passengers, which causes over 700,000 minutes of delay per year. Additionally, Amtrak trains move almost 2 times slower than trains in countries with modern infrastructure.

Let’s examine how fast Amtrak trains really are, then look into each contributing factor for the delays. Finally, we’ll tell you how you can help make them faster.

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How Many Flights Can a Commercial Plane Fly Per Day?

When you fly service from one location to another, there’s a good chance that the exact plane flew the exact trip just the day before. Sometimes this occurs multiple times per day!

Many people know this fact, but fewer know exactly how many flights the average commercial plane flies per day. I’ll admit fully that I didn’t either. So I did what any good travel journalist would do — I researched it.

It didn’t take a long of time — I went to high school with someone who is now involved in aircraft maintenance and repair. I simply asked him the question and then looked up what industry practices were. With data in hand, I’m happy to share how many flights a commercial plane can fly per day.

There are no hard rules about how many flights a commercial plane can fly per day — an airplane can operate for 24 hours straight if necessary. The main limitation then is the planned route, the availability of the crew, delays, and scheduled services such as changing oil and tires. In practice, a commercial aircraft generally makes a maximum of 4 flights per day.

To understand more about the stated limitations, keep reading. We’re doing a deep dive on each one to give you a better idea of what’s possible.

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The Best Time of Year For a Cross-Country Road Trip

The great American road trip is an institution as old as the highway system. The country is a fantastic place to explore on four wheels, and every serious traveler should experience going from one end to the other at least once.

But I’m sure you already know that. You’ve already made up your mind to see this great nation from the driver’s seat of an automobile. However, you still need to answer a very important question.

When is the best time of year to go on a cross-country road trip?

Generally, late Spring or early Autumn is the best time to start a cross-country road trip, but it ultimately depends on your route. You’ll have much more flexibility in the American South than in the northern part of the state. With that being said, you can make almost any time of year work.

That gives you a general idea of what timeline you’re working with. However, let’s explore each season and provide some context about which times of year prove more difficult than others.

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Amtrak vs. Greyhound — Prices, comfort, travel time, more!

The phrase “It’s like comparing apples and oranges” is often thrown around when comparing two things. While often abused, the expression is definitely safe to pull out when considering Amtrak vs. Greyhound!

Other than the fact that both get you from point A to point B, they both offer vastly different modes of travel. But which is better, Amtrak or Greyhound?

Generally, Greyhound surpasses Amtrak in only two areas — route availability and (sometimes) price. The two are roughly matched when it comes to travel delays. While Amtrak is drastically better when it comes to comfort, amenities, safety, and cleanliness, limited routes makes it unsuitable for all situations.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s dive into each aspect and look at some hard data.

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Does Greyhound Ask For Identification? (Not always!)

Traveling by bus (and specifically, Greyhound) carries drastically fewer hurdles than air travel. There’s no TSA to worry about, the list of things you can bring on a Greyhound is much longer, and you’ll spend much less time boarding.

At this point, you may be wondering exactly how far those relaxed restrictions go. For example, do you need ID to board a Greyhound bus?

Greyhound policy requires you to show your ID before picking up tickets from an attendant. However, Greyhound reports you can travel without an ID by buying your ticket online/over the phone, using the self-service kiosks, or using the app to present your ticket. Unaccompanied minors must sign and present an unaccompanied minor form.

Additionally, Greyhound may ask you to present your ID when boarding the bus. However, according to most riders, this is a rare occurrence! In fact, I was unable to find an example of this happening. Most people reported that they had only been asked for a confirmation number, their ticket, and a baggage tag.

Leah Thomas recounts her Greyhound experience on Quora (source)

If you still have questions (like I did), keep reading for a complete deep-dive into Greyhound ID requirements.

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