2

I am traveling from Minneapolis to Chicago next Saturday, and I need to be at Symphony Center by 4:45 pm sharp. My schedule is unfortunately somewhat constrained, and my travel options are as follows:

  • Amtrak Empire Builder, scheduled arrival 3:55. This is somewhat expensive and the timing is quite tight; if the train is more than 45 minutes late, I'll be late for my show.
  • Greyhound Bus, scheduled arrival 3:15. This is more reasonably priced and gives me an hour and half window, so it is my current preference.
  • Driving. I can certainly leave early enough to be on time, but I dislike long drives and would prefer not to do this unless it's the only reliable option.

My question is how reliable these Amtrak and Greyhound routes are, and if either of them can reliably get me there within the window (say, >90% chance). I know that both Greyhound and Amtrak have reputations for running late, and my own experiences with them have been mixed, but I don't have a great sense of how common or severe delays are and I've never taken this particular route.

I'm hoping for an answer based either on experience with these companies and/or this particular trip, or based on recent performance data for these routes if such data is available.

  • 1
    There are also lots of flights between these two cities, of course... – Nate Eldredge Jan 18 at 22:47
  • 1
    Don't overlook the possibility of snow at this time of year, in which case neither the bus nor driving are likely to work. – Andrew Lazarus Jan 18 at 22:59
  • How important is it that you be on time? There's a parking garage directly under the Symphony Center. But you have a mile or so to walk, taxi or Uber from Union Station or the Greyhound station. And it's not that long a drive...at least, I did that length of drive twice a weekend for many months. – Michael Hampton Jan 19 at 2:46
4

To find data about Amtrak's on-time performance, there is the indispensable Amtrak Status Maps Archive Database (ASMAD). This site gathers data from Amtrak's website and presents it in an easy-to-sort format.

For the Empire Builder (train #8), this site shows that the train arrived late by 45 minutes or more on six days out of the last thirty. So there's an approximately 80% chance that the train would get you to your event on time.

4

Unfortunately, there are few resources for tracking on-time performance of Greyhound buses. To get a sense of performance on the route, you can use the Greyhound BusTracker website supplied by Greyhound itself. This is a "current status" tool, like an airline flight tracker, and you cannot find historical information with it; but if you check it on a daily basis, you can get a sense of when and where delays can occur. The route from Minneapolis to Chicago is long enough that even if you accumulate delays on one or two legs, the bus can make it up on others, although naturally there are limits to this.

For train performance, similarly, Amtrak provides only a train status lookup with no historical information (irritatingly, there is no way to link to it directly from the desktop site; the mobile site link is given). There are hobbyists who collect and compile such information, however. Probably the largest such resource is the Amtrak Status Maps Archive Database (ASMAD) which lets you search by train number or station; not all stations have complete information for both departures and arrivals, however. The sole daily MSP-CHI train has quite a range; most arrive before a half hour after scheduled arrival, but on a few days over the last month, delays of two to three hours are reported.

Another potential tool is Amtrak Status Maps, which also records historical performance, and shows performance based on train rather than on station (e.g. Train 8).

For driving, Google Maps and Waze (also owned by Google) will give you estimates that incorporate historical information about traffic congestion.

d

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.