Burlington prepares to welcome Amtrak route to New York City
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - All aboard, Burlington! Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express is coming to Burlington’s downtown-- and Vergennes and Middlebury-- with its final destination in the Big Apple starting in July.
VTrans say this has been a goal of theirs for the past 10-15 years. Now, the 59 mph passenger train will leave Burlington in the morning, head to Penn Station, and return in the evening.
The tracks in Burlington look empty now but new signs tell it all-- the Ethan Allen Express is incoming.
“I’m from New Jersey, so I think it’ll be a way for me to get home without driving which will be nice,” said James Eyler of Burlington.
Vermont already has Amtrak routes to New York City, but not in downtown Burlington, something the city’s tourism sector is excited about.
“I do expect them to get off the train in a short walk to their downtown hotel properties, all short walks, several different restaurants, and, of course, the waterfront is there. So, we definitely think they’re going to be enjoying that,” said Jeff Lawson of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce.
VTrans says the Vermonter, which has routes from St. Albans to NYC, sees around 100,000 riders a year. The Ethan Allen Express, which has routes from Rutland to NYC, sees around 50,000 riders a year.
“We think that Ethan Allen is going to generate, you know, probably another additional 20,000-30,000 riders per year. You know, to when we go to Burlington, of course, we also have stops in Vergennes and Middlebury,” said Dan Delabruere of VTrans.
Delabruere says it typically takes around $8 million a year to run both trains. He expects that number to be similar with the additional stops and he expects increased ridership to offset any costs generated.
VTrans say the train will not take longer than eight hours to get from Burlington to New York, and Amtrak is currently doing test runs to see the exact timing at each stop.
Some Vermonters say taking a less-than-two-hour flight is more efficient and gives you more than one departure option a day.
But others say if you’re going to be driving five hours and 22 minutes anyway, the train makes sense.
“The plane flight is obviously going to be quicker but the fact that you have Wi-Fi and it’s beautiful to look out either side on the scenery,” said Matthew Dodds of Williston.
“It’s a long drive to get to the city and I think it’s worth the time,” said Brendan Hogan of Barre.
VTrans say they don’t know the exact cost of tickets yet but they expect it to be comparable to the current Essex to NYC route on the Vermonter.
WCAX looked up a ride for the last weekend in July on the Vermonter to New York. Coach was $60 and business class is $141 right now. The website says the ride takes eight hours and 40 minutes.
VTrans say NYC is the most popular destination for both the Ethan Allen Express and the Vermonter.
And these trains will go faster than freight trains you may be used to in downtown Burlington, so it’s important to keep a safe distance from the tracks when the Ethan Allen is scheduled to arrive.
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