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!
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.