Dallas to Milwaukee by Amtrak

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Dallas to Milwaukee by Amtrak
Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 8:56 PM

OK another trip up on the Texas Eagle to Milwaukee at Christmas.   We'll see how they do this time.   Down to the last 2-3 roomettes says Amtrak website.

Going to attempt to rent a car at the Milwaukee Depot.    I heard you can do that and the local rental car company will meet you there.... we'll see how that works out.    Previously had to take a cab from downtown Milwaukee Depot to Airport (Airport station does not handle baggage and I am not going to lug it around CUS in between trains)......Only $15-17 each way by cab so not a huge expense.    However, if the rental car works from the Milwaukee Depot then I save not only the cab fare but all the ridiculous Airport concession taxes on top.    Should be interesting experience.

Would have flown normally but I only fly leasure First Class and the fares are already up to $900+ RT for nonstop on a full size jet.    Amtrak was $665 RT with bedroom so Amtrak wins.   Just amazed though that Amtrak does not charge more for 1st Class Long Distance at Christmas time since they fill up so far in advance and given what 1st Class Airfare is.    They are competing with buses and auto only at this point.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, October 11, 2019 1:51 PM

So you ride a train ~22 hours,  if on time, yet you'll whine about being delayed five or so minutes by Metra's Joe Lunchpail commuters,  who are in a hurry?

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Posted by bratkinson on Friday, October 11, 2019 7:50 PM

A couple months ago, I took a train to Milwaukee to spend the day.  I used to live there, so I know it well.  One of my goals was to ride the new streetcar and the other to spend a couple hours with an old friend.

Like you, I wanted to avoid the airport concession fees on rental cars.  So unlike several previous trips in the past 20 years or so, I opted to ride to the newly redone Milwaukee station.  I also used the "We'll pick you up" rental car company.  Unfortunately, I had to take a 2 hour later train to MKE than originally planned and I advised the rental company accordingly.  They said to call about 10 minutes before arriving...(ie, departing MKA airport station), which I did. 

Apparently they were quite busy at the moment, and said it would be at least 15-20 minutes before they'd pick me up.  After 10 minutes or more on the front sidewalk waiting for them, I called and said I'll walk it.  It's only 4 short blocks.  Note: even though the address indicates it's at 3rd & Wisconsin Ave, the only entrance is on 4th St, about 100 feet north of Wisconsin Ave.  The building occupies a full city block and the address for all businesses therein is 3rd & Wis.  I've got another trip to Milwaukee in planning stages, and will use the same car company again.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, October 11, 2019 11:57 PM

charlie hebdo
So you ride a train ~22 hours,  if on time, yet you'll whine about being delayed five or so minutes by Metra's Joe Lunchpail commuters,  who are in a hurry?

In almost 10 years of taking the train Dallas to Chicago I have only been late once and that was on the leg to Dallas due to severe cold weather in Chicago Amtrak had issues with their old diesels dying in the extreme Cold weather.     The Texas Eagle has always been reliable for me around the Christmas Holiday, no detours, no late arrivals.   The biggest part of the reliability is most of the freight rail crews are on holiday and not a whole lot of trains clogging the route so typically arrive at St. Louis about 5:30 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. Northbound and sit there until 8:00 a.m.    More than likely an 18 hour trip but with the padding it's 22 hours.   The train runs really fast South of St. Louis, close to the Christmas holiday.

In regards to Metra, as I said earlier when you take a shorter trip such as 90 min Milwaukee to Chicago, shorter delays are amplified and much more noticeable on the overall trip.  Which is why I do not believe in Amtraks 15 min padding each way before they consider the Milwaukee to Chicago train late.    Ridiculous to have that much padding on a corridor train that only traverses 85 miles.   Even more ridiculous to pay millions of dollars upgrading the track to 90 then 110 or more MPH North of Metra territory, only to burn up the time saved waiting on a slow Metra train or slow Metra move.    Eventually they will be forced to put in a third track.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, October 12, 2019 12:06 AM

bratkinson
The building occupies a full city block and the address for all businesses therein is 3rd & Wis.  I've got another trip to Milwaukee in planning stages, and will use the same car company again.

So is that Hertz, Local Edition or Enterprise Rent A Car?   I think Enterprise is in a hotel lobby but just as close and within walking distance.

A lot of local complaining in Milwaukee about that trolley but the big issue there is the system is too new for most taxpayers to realize what an asset it can be.    For example if they used the former C&NW lakefront line easement between downtown and UWM they could express the train to UWM in about 5-7 min from downtown and it would be the preferred mode of travel between the college campus and downtown.   Milwaukee has plenty of abandoned railroad right of ways like that where they could put the new trolley on and save considerable travel time over other modes.     Another option is the former Milwaukee Road airline between West Milwaukee and Elm Grove which is elevated above city streets through State Fair Park at least.   Then runs below freeway level for the run out of Elm Grove.....would make an excellent high speed line in my opinion.  Milwaukee even still has the abandoned rights of way from both North Shore Line and the Milwaukee Electric Railway as well in various parts of the city.    One cut of the former Milwaukee Electric Railway can be seen right through a Cemetary with concrete walls on both sides (former double track) just Northwest of Miller Stadium, then the RoW rises up above street level and parallels the freeway a little bit.

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Posted by RailSpike on Saturday, October 26, 2019 3:28 PM

There is a Budget Rental 2 blocks from the Milwaukee station. Easy walk.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, October 26, 2019 6:48 PM

RailSpike
There is a Budget Rental 2 blocks from the Milwaukee station. Easy walk.

Good to know thanks, my guess by avoiding the airport I save at least $100 in taxes, concession fees, etc.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 26, 2019 7:17 PM

CMStPnP
Good to know thanks, my guess by avoiding the airport I save at least $100 in taxes, concession fees, etc.

And the quality of the cars at that location will probably be better, and the hassle of getting one out of there and into town less.

Be sure to get the name and contact information of the people in that Budget office while you are there, and keep in touch with them if you can.  That greatly simplifies working with them again if you return to Milwaukee, which I understand you do on a regular basis.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, October 27, 2019 1:41 PM

Overmod
And the quality of the cars at that location will probably be better, and the hassle of getting one out of there and into town less.

The cars will definitely be cleaner and better maintained but the selection will be less.   I probably won't get the option of a Mustang Convertible or some of the upper tier cars at the airport but then the local cars should have full air in the tires, be recently vacuumed, and at least start up on first crank.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, October 27, 2019 8:03 PM

CMStPnP
 I probably won't get the option of a Mustang Convertible or some of the upper tier cars at the airport...

Be advised that if they know you are coming, they can request something specific be moved from another facility to their's ... another reason to have 'friends in the business' at the specific location.  It can be fun to contact the local office through the automated system, though, which is why having a cell-phone 'back door' is an advantage...

... but then the local cars should have full air in the tires...

Be advised also that something Budget is apparently very bad about, on repeated instances with cars from a number of locations, is tire pressure.  We rent vehicles on the average more than twice a month for the business, and in only one or two cases has the TPMS indicated all tires properly inflated: the thing to watch, surprisingly, not that the tires are low but that they're high.

Most of the cars we 'get' are so new they haven't been plated yet, and what I think is happening is that the cars are being shipped, perhaps by rail, with overinflated tire pressure (the record so far being 61psi in low-profile oversize wheels on a Dodge Charger, one of the 'special' cars with Hemi engine, and believe me, Hunter S. Thompson was right about those roller skates in a gravel pit).  The solution is easy, of course: carry a small pressure gauge (stick or digital) and bleed pressure to what the door decal or whatever indicates it should be -- or get the Budget staff to check explicitly.

Your nerves will probably thank you if you have any more than a few miles to drive! 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 9:29 AM

Overmod
We rent vehicles on the average more than twice a month for the business, and in only one or two cases has the TPMS indicated all tires properly inflated: the thing to watch, surprisingly, not that the tires are low but that they're high.

So if your lazy like me you can take the car to any tire store and ask them to fill the tires for air and you will be shocked that they will do it for free in any weather......rental car or not.    Just a FYI.    Never been turned down yet because they look at you as a perspective tire customer.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 10:12 AM

CMStPnP
So if your lazy like me you can take the car to any tire store and ask them to fill the tires for air and you will be shocked that they will do it for free in any weather......rental car or not.    Just a FYI.    Never been turned down yet because they look at you as a perspective tire customer.

I taught my daughter, and tried to teach my wife, that any time they have a low tire they should go to one of the tire or 'chain garage' places and "ask to use their air hose".  (That's a little less onerous than asking someone there to actually do it -- not that anything's wrong with asking).  No one but the sheep or the desperate use those coin-operated excuses for air compressors at corner gas stations.

Every time I called Budget to mention something was wrong with the tire pressure, they promptly directed me to a tire or garage provider of that kind ... probably because they had a working relationship with them ... and said just to mention 'Budget sent me'.  So it's official, too, at least for the divisions in Memphis and Nashville.

The key is that you have to CHECK your tire pressure when you rent ... don't assume that the pre-rental check has involved even thinking about tire pressure.  I've gotten the folks at the mid-Poplar Avenue location looking at it regularly, at least for the cars they rent to me, but it involved a little coffee-related persuasion.

Carry a gauge, use it regularly, consider a set of those in-cap gauges for cars you drive regularly.  Neurosis here is not overkill.

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