I’m on the road today, heading back to Michigan for a friend’s wedding. This involves three different transit operations playing ball: Trans-Bridge Lines between Easton and the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) in New York, the MTA between the PABT and Pennsylvania Station (Penn), and finally Amtrak from Penn to Kalamazoo, via Union Station in Chicago.

One of the minor pleasures of taking the bus from the valley to New York (and there aren’t many so you really can’t be choosy) is running along the Northeast Corridor near Jersey City. Today, a little bit after 11 AM, I spotted the Silver Star, just a few minutes into its 31-hour, 1500-mile run to Miami and points in between. I recognized it from the two Viewliner sleepers behind the HHP-8 locomotive (see this page for more on train identification). Pleased, I tweeted the following:

On the bus to NYC and just saw the @AMTRAK Silver Star go by. Too fast for a picture!

This drew a quick reply from Amtrak’s social media folks. I’ve found them to be pretty responsive…

@mackensen Very cool! We’re glad you got to see it 🙂 How’s your ride going?

Amused that I’d gotten them interested, I replied with the following:

@Amtrak not bad but we’re crawling through the Holland tunnel. Happily I’m on the Lake Shore Limited this evening.

That tweet went out from the tunnel, incidentally. I continue to be impressed with Verizon’s coverage. That last tweet drew an odd reply, ending our little colloquy:

@mackensen We are sorry for any delay, we hope to have you to your destination ASAP! We look forward to having you on board again later!

I’ve been thinking this one over. At first I was deeply confused, but I’m coming to realize that I never said whose bus I was on, although I don’t think Amtrak operates any Thruway services in New Jersey. Also, it probably comes naturally to Amtrak to apologize for service delays (*cough*), even ones it isn’t responsible for.

Anyway, thought I’d mention all this. It really can be fun to tweet at Amtrak and see what you get back. A couple months ago I was coming back from New Orleans and got help up by Norfolk Southern maintenance in northern Indiana. I started including @Amtrak in my tweets slagging away at NS and eventually drew a friendly reply.

From Amtrak, that is. Those bastards at NS never said a word.