Roll On Buddy! Amtrak Now Allows $5 Roll-On Bicycle Service

It just got a lot easier to travel by Amtrak trains in the midwest. On Wednesday, Amtrak and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will hold a media event to announce 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!

The media event will be held at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, 422 W. St. Paul Avenue, on Wednesday, May 4 with bicycle riders arriving from Chicago on the train that gets in at 9:54 a.m. There will be a brief announcement at 10:15 a.m. and then more passengers from Milwaukee will board 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 5 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 offer this service on the Crescent, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Capitol Limited (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.

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

11 thoughts on “Roll On Buddy! Amtrak Now Allows $5 Roll-On Bicycle Service

  1. This is great, except for monthly riders. I’ve been wanting to bring my bike on the train forever, I’m a little disappointed it’ll cost me $5 a day to do it…. but at least it’s something!

    • Great news! Do you know if one can use the kiosk at the airport station or other stations between downtown Milw and Union Station, or does the trip need to start at one of those two stations?

  2. Thanks to the Bike Fed for helping to make this happen! As bad as passenger rail in the US generally is compared to many other places, at least bike access is gradually getting better.

    • Thanks Harald, and I honestly think WisDOT deserves a pat on the back here as well!

  3. Thanks for your info.

    can i take my bike with me on Amtrak from Milw to Chicago and then on to Wash DC or New York ?

    dennis

  4. It’s getting better, but still not as good as it originally was.  I took Amtrak from La Crosse WI to Glendale IL to attend the LAW Convention in Wheeling back in 1973, and was able to ride my bicycle ride to the depot and then roll it, unboxed, into the baggage car at no additional cost.  Would love to be able to see that happen again.

    However, another note — if one needs to travel on Amtrak with a bicycle and decides to box it, Amtrak has a bicycle box of their own that is generally large enough (in both length and height) to fit a standard diamond-frame bicycle without the need to remove one or both of the wheels.  All that is needed is to turn the handlebars sideways and remove the pedals (it might also be necessary to loosen the seatpost bolt and lower the seat.

    -”BB”-

  5. thanks to everyone at the BikeFed for getting this done! Thanks to Arun Rao at WisDOT as well. Too bad I can’t exit with the bike at the Milw Airport. But in due time. In due time…

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