Years after European train operators and the airlines, Amtrak has decided it was time to add WiFi to its trains. Bus companies have found a way to sell seats for as little as $1 between New York and Boston and provide free WiFi while the train generally sells seats which start in the $50 range and as you might imagine, this fierce competition has meant the union-operated trains are losing customers and they need to fight back.
So it is a bit surprising that the new WiFi service will initially be offered on the company’s fastest and most expensive trains – the Acela Express.
One would suppose this is an initial trial of course and eventually even more competitive pressure will force the company to roll out wireless service across all seats at a low rate.
The challenge for Amtrak is the high salaries it pays the union workers. In today’s cost-conscious world where margins are being slashed across the board in industry after industry, the company will have to add more and more services, like free food to keep customer happy. Even then, with a common ticket price of $10-$20 for a bus versus $50 or much more for a train seat, we can likely expect Amtrak to appear before our government soon and ask for more bailout money.