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Lawmakers push Amtrak for bike baggage cars

New York’s senior United States Senator is trying to use his clout to convince Amtrak to accommodate bicyclists on trains to Albany, Saratoga Springs and the North Country.  

Anyone who takes Amtrak from Boston to Portland knows about the railroad's "Bring Your Bicycle On Board" program. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer says it makes good economic sense to roll the initiative out on Amtrak's Adirondack and Ethan Allen Trains as well.   

Schumer says thanks to his efforts, a fleet of some 25 baggage-bicycle cars is being built at the Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) Facility in Elmira, and he'd like nothing less than seeing them added to passenger lines traveling upstate from Penn Station. Schumer visited the Albany-Rensselear Rail station Monday morning.

Schumer, a Democrat, has sent a letter outlining his request to Amtrak's top brass. Republican State Senator Betty Little, who chairs the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, says a bike-friendly train would appeal to a lot of people.

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus says support for the bike train concept comes from diverse cities such as Rochester, Plattsburgh and New York - and he notes the bike trails are already in place.

Senator Schumer says that for Amtrak to simply agree the bike train is a good idea isn't good enough.  A call for comment to Amtrak media relations was not immediately returned.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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