Whether you’re interested in getting to know America better or expanding your job search radius in the process, these are useful facts concerning states without Amtrak service. Amtrak is the second-largest rail service in the country, and one of its primary selling points is its extensive network.
Indeed, Amtrak services more than 500 destinations across 46 states, including all of the contiguous states except for four: Montana, New Hampshire, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
Learning about these locations can help you understand why they don’t have access to Amtrak trains and how that affects them as a result. Read on to get acquainted with the four states that don’t have Amtrak service as well as what it means for residents and travelers who want to visit those locations.
Why the Four States Don’t Have Amtrak Service
The nation’s history can be seen in some of the reasons why these four states don’t have Amtrak service. To start, Amtrak was created in 1971, but plenty of its services were already present in the country before then. The Northeast Corridor, for example, which runs from Washington, D.C. to Boston, dates back to the early 1900s.
But that doesn’t mean it was always accessible in every state. Given the fact that the U.S. is a vast country with a wide range of terrain, it’s unsurprising that certain areas would be left out — and the four states without Amtrak service are prime examples.
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Montana has the largest landmass of any state in the contiguous U.S. (not counting Alaska and Hawaii), and it covers an area of 147,000 square miles. Because of its large size, Montana has been left out from Amtrak’s network. There has been discussion about extending Amtrak to Montana and even an act passed by Congress that would extend funding for Amtrak to continue building out the rail network.
In the end, however, the funding ultimately did not go through. To this day, Amtrak still hasn’t extended its services to the state, and it likely never will give Montana’s vastness and mountainous terrain. That’s not to say that there aren’t trains in the state.
New Hampshire is one of the four states without Amtrak service due to its long stretch of undeveloped land. While this may seem like a disadvantage, there are also significant benefits to being without Amtrak service. For starters, the state has high rates of tourism and foot traffic, and those people wouldn’t have access to Amtrak.
What’s more, it would be costly to extend Amtrak’s services to the state and Amtrak would likely lose money on the venture. That’s because New Hampshire is home to plenty of beautiful lakes and rivers, which are all prime spots for water sports and other activities. Moreover, New Hampshire is home to the White Mountains, which are a popular destination for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. These are all reasons why New Hampshire would be left out of Amtrak’s services.
Wyoming’s land is perhaps best described as “rugged.” It boasts a high altitude and plenty of mountains, which make it a difficult state in which to build a rail network. Because Wyoming is mostly rural, it would be both costly and difficult to create a rail network, let alone extend the Northeast Corridor from Chicago to the East Coast.
And, like Montana, it’s simply too big to service. Given that Wyoming is home to Yellowstone National Park, it’s conceivable that it would have a tourist interest in Amtrak’s services. That said, it doesn’t have a large enough population to support it. Indeed, one doesn’t need to look further than Wyoming’s population density map to see why it doesn’t have Amtrak service.
The last state in the contiguous U.S. without Amtrak is South Dakota. It’s worth noting that South Dakota and Wyoming are the only two states without Amtrak service that are not part of the Midwest. As with Wyoming, South Dakota’s rugged landscape makes it difficult to build a rail network, let alone extend the Northeast Corridor.
Moreover, the population in South Dakota is widely dispersed, which makes it difficult to build a rail network. What’s more, South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a popular tourist destination. Because of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota proves that it’s possible to have a tourist destination without Amtrak service.
How Many States Does Amtrak Serve?
Amtrak operates over 20,000 miles of track in 46 states and 3 Canadian provinces. The busiest Amtrak route travels coast-to-coast. This route runs between Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. It is known as the “Hoosier State” because it passes through Indiana. This route carries an average of 300,000 passengers each year. Amtrak also operates service in Hawaii and California.
In addition to providing passenger service, Amtrak also maintains tracks and stations used for freight transportation. In 2015, Amtrak carried 2.6 billion tons of freight along its tracks. For this reason, Amtrak is referred to as the “people’s railroad.”
What Does It Mean for Travelers?
If you’re interested in exploring one of the four states that don’t have Amtrak service, you’ll have to find other forms of transportation. In most cases, the best option is to fly to another nearby location, then drive to your destination from there. This can be costly, especially if you don’t have access to a car or don’t live near an airport. Traveling by car also takes time, so it’s not an ideal option for visiting more than one state over the course of a few months.
If you want to visit South Dakota and Wyoming without Amtrak service , your best option is flying into Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota. From there, drive to the nearest airport: Cheyenne Regional Airport (CYS) in Wyoming or Laramie Regional Airport (LAR) in Wyoming. If neither of these airports are close enough for your needs, consider driving between Cheyenne and Laramie instead.
Is Amtrak cheaper than flying?
Amtrak is definitely cheaper than flying, but it depends on your travel situation. If you are only traveling a short distance, then flying is likely to be cheaper and more convenient. However, if you are traveling long distances, Amtrak is a good option.
For example, if you are traveling across the country, Amtrak can be cheaper than flying. This is because the cost of fuel is high and so air tickets tend to be expensive. On the other hand, if you are traveling within the United States, Amtrak may not be cheaper than flying. However, this may not be true for long distance routes such as New York-Chicago or New York-Los Angeles.
For shorter routes, especially those that are served by Amtrak’s trains in both directions (such as Philadelphia to Washington or New York to Boston), it may actually be more cost effective to take a plane rather than train. Furthermore, if you are planning a longer trip that crosses multiple states or even countries, then it may be more cost effective to combine train and plane travel rather than taking separate trips by plane and train.
What States Use Amtrak?
As mentioned, Amtrak serves all but five states, which are Montana, New Hampshire, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Maine. If you want to travel by Amtrak, you’ll want to visit one of these states. Amtrak also serves the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, so these are also valid travel destinations.
If you’re hoping to visit one of these regions, you’ll have to plan ahead and purchase your tickets in advance. If you’re hoping to visit one of the five states without Amtrak service, you can do so by flying to the nearest airport and renting a car. Alternatively, you can take a bus or ride-sharing service.
Is Amtrak the Only Passenger Train In USA?
Although Amtrak has a monopoly on intercity passenger rail travel in the United States, it does not operate all trains within its own network. Instead, these trains are contracted to private companies under varying levels of regulation. This means that a small number of private companies can operate high-speed or premium intercity trains without needing to buy dedicated tracks or purchase expensive equipment.
It also means that these lines will have lower fares because they cannot afford to offer premium service for high passenger demand like Amtrak’s long-distance trains do. However, these private lines must adhere to certain regulations regarding safety, efficiency and customer service to ensure that they operate in a safe and efficient manner.
What Are the Long-Distance Routes? How Many Miles?
Amtrak runs a number of long-distance routes across the country. These trains run through more than 4,000 miles of track, and they’re operated by Amtrak and its partner railroads. The Northeast Corridor is the most well-known route, and it runs between Washington, D.C., and Boston. It’s also one of the busiest routes in the country.
Other long-distance routes include the Texas Eagle, which runs between Chicago and San Antonio; the Sunset Limited, which runs between Orlando and Los Angeles; the California Zephyr, which runs between Emeryville/San Francisco and Chicago; the Pacific Surf liner, which connects San Diego to San Luis Obispo; and several others.
How Much Does It Cost to Ride on Amtrak?
The cost depends on where you’re traveling from or going to. If you want to travel from New York City to Washington D.C., for example, you can expect to pay $218 one way. If you want to travel from Boston to Chicago via Philadelphia or Pittsburgh (the latter is not an option), expect to pay $162 one way.
This is a great deal for traveling hundreds or thousands of miles by train! The price varies based on where you’re traveling from or going to. If you want to travel from New York City to Washington D.C., for example, you can expect to pay $218 one way. If you want to travel from Boston to Chicago via Philadelphia or Pittsburgh (the latter is not an option), expect to pay $162 one way. This is a great deal for traveling hundreds or thousands of miles by train!
How Long Does It Take?
It depends on where you’re going! For example, the trip from New York City to Washington D.C. takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. The Sunset Limited takes 7 hours on average, while the Texas Eagle takes 5 hours and 40 minutes on average. The California Zephyr runs between San Diego and Chicago in about 11 hours.
These are all average times, though; some trains take longer than others! It depends on where you’re going! For example, the trip from New York City to Washington D.C. takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. The Sunset Limited takes 7 hours on average, while the Texas Eagle takes 5 hours and 40 minutes on average. The California Zephyr runs between San Diego and Chicago in about 11 hours. These are all average times, though.
Deciding whether or not be part of the modern-day railroad transportation system is no easy task. Amtrak doesn’t cover every state, and there are plenty of places in this country where it simply doesn’t service. If there’s one thing we can say about the United States, it is that there is a lot of rural area and plenty of waterways.
So, as you can imagine, not every area is going to be included in the system. That’s not to say, however, that most states don’t have some form of rail service, even if it is limited.
If a state has a fairly major population and is close to a regional service hub, like a major city, and the state has a sufficient population density, then you’re likely to find a small but functional rail network. You should also know, however, that not all rural areas in the U.S. are going to have train service.
In the end, even though Amtrak doesn’t service all of the country, it does offer some great getaways for tourists who enjoy rail travel. That’s because many towns along the system have been equipped with small, state-of-the-art rail stations where you can often catch a train to somewhere nearby.