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Everything posted by GTJ

  1. Are you seeking the single mid-level hotel that is absolutely closest to Cape Liberty Cruise port, or are you seeking a more general area(s) of mid-level hotels that, collectively, are closest? In the first case, the Residence Inn by Marriott Jersey City would likely be the absolute closest, edging out the next-closest by three-tenths of a mile. In the second case, there are several mid-level hotels all located within the Exchange Place area of Jersey City. Use Google Maps to search for hotels near Exchange Place, and you will find several clustered around Christopher Columbus Drive, and immediately north in the Newport area of Jersey City (between Exchange Place and the neighboring city of Hoboken).
  2. What you are saying, effectively, is that it is a balancing between cost and convenience. I think that is right. Moreover, it is not a uniform or objective balancing: each person values those two factors individually, and different people will come to a variety of balancing conclusions. This is the primary reason that I don't like questions that are posed in this forum about the "best" way to get someplace without any guidance from the poster as criteria are important to them in making that personal balancing. Perhaps even more uncomfortable are responses from some who state, emphatically, that there is a single "best" answer that they know, and that anyone who disagrees is absolutely wrong. In these circumstances, I can offer my personal observations, how I analyze from the perspective of a public transportation professional with expertise in that area, and I can offer how I balance things. But I also acknowledge that you might be different. Hopefully I did that well here.
  3. Without doubt it is horrifying the acts of some people pushing others as you have described. Unfortunately it is sad truth that parallel incidents occur above ground, though more often of the form of motor vehicles themselves plowing into individuals or crowds of people, than people being pushed by others into the path of a motor vehicle. I have had two serious incidents of being placed in this type of danger. First, I was walking on the sidewalk in Secaucus, New Jersey, when an automobile, traveling on a perpendicular street, turned the corner, and instead of going down the street I was walking aside, the automobile jumped the curb onto the sidewalk. Its bulk almost hit me, a portion of the vehicle did become detached and did hit me, and the vehicle had struck a street light pole that that then fell over on top of me. The automobile driver literally ran away from the incident (on foot) to escape liability. One of the passengers then lied to the investigating police officer, claiming to have been the driver. Second, I was riding on a street railway car in San Francisco, California, when an automobile, traveling downhill at a speed later estimated by police to about 50 miles per hour, swerved into the opposite lane, its driver purposefully aiming for a head-on collision with the streetcar. The struck streetcar broke free from its cable, throwing its operating crew, and rolled uncontrollably back down the hill it had been climbing. The automobile driver succeeded in his suicide quest. In both incidents my personal injuries were luckily not severe (one not even requiring a hospital visit), but had the greater effect of cementing my concerns over the dangers of transportation generally, and the hazards of reckless driving in particular. The sum of the above is that the streets of New York City--or anyplace, for that matter--are not clearly safer or more secure than its subway. The are dangers with both streets and subways, and in each case one needs to exercise reasonable caution (such as, for example, walking or waiting alertly) to minimize such risks. One could avoid the risks by staying locked up at home, and never going anywhere. I have not done that: I still walk on sidewalks, and I still travel on streetcars, despite the possibility of another similar street incident (mainly because the likelihood, statistically, is so low). If you want to see the world, there are going to be risks, not all of which can be avoided completely.
  4. I suppose my romanticism for the liner days is illustrated that most of the cruises I have traveled upon are one-way or partial, transportation from one place to another, and not a mere round-trip excursion. It also extends to my criticism of modern cruise vessels as being little more than a homogeneous residential skyscraper plopped on top of a hull. Even the QM2 suffers from that attribute. While the United States might have been plain, it was however, a real liner built in the style of its 1950s time.
  5. I think very highly of Concord Coach Lines. Their regular bus service, which travel upon often to South Station, is, in my opinion, the best regular bus service available in the entire United States. Their executive bus service, to New York City, is even better! White I have not traveled on C&J Bus Lines (Portsmouth and Dover), my understanding is that their operations are similarly fine. It is also on par with Orléans Express, which I believe to be the best regular bus service in all of Canada (operating primarily between Québec and Montréal). I remember that as well, in the 1980s, though in San Francisco rather than New York City. No security check or anything else . . . just board the vessel and look around! So much of our innocence has been lost in the intervening years (much on September 11, 2001) that it saddens me greatly.
  6. True. But there's municipal pride involved. As was reported by the New York Daily News: "The story went that one day in 1934 the formidable new mayor of the City of New York was flying home from Chicago aboard a TWA DC-2 that landed, as was its practice, at Newark. And everyone got off the plane except Fiorello LaGuardia, who pointed out that his ticket said CHICAGO-NEW YORK and said he wanted to go to New York, not Newark. And the captain politely explained that, well, Newark was where New York flights landed because that’s where the airport was. And LaGuardia said again that his ticket damn well said New York and he refused to leave his seat. And the captain thought this over, and by and by the plane was in the air again, delivering Mayor LaGuardia, its sole passenger, to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, which could only just barely accommodate a DC-2. This was, the story went, specifically the reason that five years later New York City had the biggest and best-equipped airport in the nation."
  7. That's one of the things I try to be conscious of when I provide advice here. As a condition for receiving federal financial assistance, federal law requires that transportation providers must offer elderly and disabled passengers a minimum 50 percent discount during off-peak hours (this is codified at 49 U.S.C. § 5307(c)(1)(D)). That, of course, changes the economic analysis for such elderly and disabled persons. The Federal Transit Administration, which enforces this law, requires that its grantees advertise the discounted fare whenever the regular fare is advertised. Nonetheless, many who are not yet elderly or disabled, or who do not routinely use public transportation, overlook this benefit,. From Newark Airport, the Coach USA bus service benefits from federal financial assistance, while the NCL-arranged transfer does not. Elsewhere on a cruise, this half-fare economic incentive makes the use of federally-subsidized public transportation becomes an even greater bargain for elderly and disabled persons, compared to unsubsidized market-rate tours and transfers. Some municipalities try to impose hoops for half-fare programs, and so it is wise for elderly and disabled to do advance research to ensure receipt of the statutory discount . . . exactly as is being done here!
  8. Applicable to all decisions is the fact that the area between midtown Manhattan and the Manhattan Cruise Terminal is relatively secure. Generally, you need not concern yourself, though if walking between, say, midnight and 6:00 a.m., you should be more attentive (though that is probably the same advice that would apply most anywhere). Walking between Port Authority Bus Terminal and the Manhattan Cruise Terminal is a pleasant stroll, suitable for most people other than those who are frail, disabled, or carrying substantial baggage. There are several choices of travel from Newark Airport to midtown Manhattan, but the Coach USA bus from the airport terminals is the most convenient and direct, short of a hired car (e.g., taxi). The regular is $18.70, with half fare for seniors. The bus brings passengers to West 42nd Street, west of Eighth Avenue, outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Other options include (1) trains, which requires a transfer from a monorail train to a commuter train, that leave you at Pennsylvania Station, more distant from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal than Port Authority Bus Terminal, and (2) local public transportation, which requires multiple transfers, that leaves you at Herald Square, also more distant from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal than Port Authority Bus Terminal. While there are ferries from New Jersey that arrive in Manhattan at Pier 79, which is very close to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, there is no convenient transportation from Newark Airport to any of these New Jersey ferries. I imagine that the NCL-arranged transfer would be the most expensive and least flexible means of travel--and for those reasons I would likely reject the option--but it would obviate the need to get from any midtown Manhattan transportation terminal to the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. From Portland I also note the existence of a very comfortable bus service operated by Concord Coach Lines. With 2+1 executive-style seating, free movies, power outlets, and Wi-Fi Plus, it is a really nice way to travel. Not cheap, but $85 one-way is not unreasonable. Departing from the combined railroad and bus terminal in Portland at 6:30 a.m. daily except Tuesdays, the first class coach arrives on the east side of Manhattan, East 42nd Street between First and Second Avenues (not Port Authority Bus Terminal) at 12:30 p.m. . . . you could then ride the M42 crosstown bus from the Concord Coach Lines stop to the Hudson River, near the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.
  9. The street views that you can get from Google, while not available along the Confederation Trail itself, can be useful for looking at the nature of the trail where it crosses various roads that are shown in street views. These views are a good reflection of the trail. You might just want to bicycle in-town. The trail could be best for a long trip to P.E.I., to cross the province, as opposed a shore excursion. The same might be true for other ports, besides the ports of embarkation and disembarkation.
  10. A few years ago I went bicycling in P.E.I. when I was in Charlottetown. I rented from MacQueen's, which provided good rental service . . . and having had a minor road failure (the nature of which I cannot even recall anymore) the rental company was responsive in providing a replacement. I traveled on the Confederation Trail, on my own, not as part of any organized tour. As well, I did this while in Charlottetown for several days, having traveled overland and not by cruise vessel. If you're seeking to do bicycling only with the confines of a relatively short port visit, you may not get much out of it, given the limitation on how far you might bicycle before having to turn-back. I found the path to be only modestly interesting because of its heritage as a former Canadian National right-of-way, but not especially so. I say this in contrast to bicycling on the former Canadian Pacific route through the Laurentian Mountains in Québec, from Mont-Laurier to Saint-Jérôme, passing through Mont-Tremblant, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Sainte-Adèle, and other interesting communities). The Québec route just blows away the P.E.I. route, with the scenery, facilities and trail maintenance, restored stations, people and restaurants, etc. To that extent I would characterize the Confederation Trail as a disappointment. If your cruise (or travels) takes you to Montréal, I would recommend doing the bicycling there (use the shuttle service of Autobus le Petit Train de Nord to make a one-journey over a few days, renting either from that transport company or from Cycles Cadieux in Saint-Jérôme), and perhaps do something else while in Charlottetown (unless either bicycling or railroading is a very strong interest).
  11. It is true that sometimes there are some early morning departures. However, such is not universally the case, and it really depends on the railroad schedule for each route. Unlike planning a bus schedule, which is fairly free of constraints (other than taking into account the timetable of the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel), planning a railroad schedule is greatly constrained by track capacity and location of sidings used for passing on single track segments. Additionally, unlike buses that typically can wait for passengers to board, etc., without interfering with other highway traffic, trains cannot remain stationary on a main line, waiting for passengers. Even the station in downtown Anchorage has limited track capacity for boarding and alighting passengers, so individual trains have to be carefully scheduled and dispatched timely so as not to have a cascading effect on all the other trains. Thus, Holland America-Princess has to ensure that they are very organized in moving their clients onto, and off from, trains. And from their perspective, better for them to have passengers waiting around for the train to show up, than for the train to wait around for the passengers to show up. Holland America-Princess is a well-oiled machine that has demonstrated its ability to handle the operational constraints imposed by railroad operations. But it can impose some concomitant inconveniences on passengers . . . including, at times, early morning departures.
  12. I think that you hit upon most all of the relevant points for a critical review of the balcony debate for Alaska itineraries. There seems to be among many people the thought that their only access to the surrounding landscape is from the privacy and seclusion of their individual stateroom. Yet there is so much public space throughout the vessel that puts to shame the tiny balcony from which some observe. That is, such a constrained perception is purposefully wearing horse blinders, with a narrow field of vision and inability to see the broader landscape or seascape. When I traveled to Alaska I was on deck, not in a stateroom that I viewed largely as a place reserved for sleeping. I went back-and-forth, between port and starboard, as the changing scenery demands. It was quite similar to traveling the Panama Canal--especially when going through the locks and watching the ground activity on both sides--as well as when traveling by railroad either in an observation car or standing in the vestibule switching from one set of dutch doors to the other. I suppose if one is frail or disabled, unable to stand on deck or move from one side of the vessel to the other, that sitting on a stateroom's balcony is best. But otherwise, the public spaces are better than any individual balcony. Those with inside staterooms who are out on deck get so much value than those with balcony staterooms and confined therein.
  13. I would not be enthused about early morning time either. The railroad has actually reversed the times it has historically operated its regular passenger trains to and from Seward. In its early years train no. 2 departed Seward at about 8:30 a.m., arrived in Anchorage at 1:00 p.m., and continued onward to Curry (just north of Talkeetna), where there was a hotel and overnight stop; the train would continue onward to Fairbanks the next day. In the reverse direction, train no. 1 would depart Fairbanks and travel southward to Curry for an overnight stop, and continue the next day into Anchorage. The train would then depart Anchorage at 1:30 p.m., and arrive in Seward at 6:00 p.m. After World War II, the operation was changed so that there would no longer be an overnight stop at Curry. Instead, train no. 2 would operate from Seward only as far as Anchorage, then turn back, returning from Anchorage at 2:30 p.m. as train no. 1 to Seward. The railroad a new train, nos. 5 and 6, between Anchorage and Fairbanks, effectively moving the overnight stop for through passengers from Curry to Anchorage. Over the years the precise times did vary a bit—you can see the precise timetable from summer 1953 in the attachment—but by the late 1950s passenger service between Seward and Anchorage was discontinued completely. It was not until thirty years later, in the late 1980s, that this service was resumed. However, in its resumption of service to and from Seward, the Alaska Railroad flipped the schedule, so that the train would start in the morning from Anchorage, heading south to Seward, and then return to Anchorage at the end of the day. When service was first resumed it did depart Anchorage a bit later than now, at 7:30 a.m., and returned from Seward at bit earlier, at 5:00 p.m.—see attached brochure. The departure time was likely moved earlier to ensure arrival in Seward well enough before 12:00 noon to permit excursions to be taken while in Seward. Meanwhile, the chartered cruise train are operating more or less on this historic schedule, departing from Seward in the morning, and returning to Seward in the evening. Alaska Railroad - Summer 1953.pdf Alaska Railroad - Summer 1987.pdf
  14. In general, transportation within Alaska is not good, and over the years the trend has been a worsening of the transportation. In years past there had been a bus service connecting Seward with Homer, but there has never been regular route bus service connecting Seward with Whittier. The only regular route bus services operate to and from Anchorage and intermediate points. Unless one desires to transfer in Anchorage, or an intermediate point, the only transportation between Whittier and Seward at present is by hired vehicle (e.g., taxi, TNC, charter bus). * * * * * The Alaska Railroad does operate a passenger train, the Glacier Discovery, that boards passengers in Whittier and goes as far south as Grandview, which is about 41-1/2 miles outside of Seward. The train has to turn-back at this point, so that it can return to Whittier prior to embarkation time for departing vessels. In other words, there's not enough time for this train from Whittier to make it all the way to Seward. However, the consist for the railroad's Coastal Classic train lays over during the day in Seward, and at least in theory that consist could be run by the railroad, from Seward to Grandview and back, making connections with the Glacier Discovery, and allowing for fairly easy passenger transportation between Whittier and Seward. (Such a service would effectively constitute a second daily passenger service between Anchorage and Seward.) Schedules might be as follows (the new train service, using the Coastal Classic equipment, shown in bold): Train Coastal Glacier New Name Classic Discovery Train Anchorage depart 6:45 a.m. 9:45 a.m. ---- Girdwooed arrive 8:00 a.m. 10:55 a.m. ---- Girdwood depart 8:05 a.m. 11:00 a.m. ---- Portage arrive 8:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. ---- Portage depart ---- 11:35 a.m. ---- Whittier arrive ---- 12:05 p.m. ---- Whittier depart ---- 12:45 p.m. ---- Portage arrive ---- 1:15 p.m. ---- Portage depart 8:30 a.m. 1:25 p.m. ---- Spencer arrive 8:45 a.m. 1:45 p.m. ---- Spencer depart 8:45 a.m. 1:55 p.m. ---- Grandview arrive 9:15 a.m. 3:20 p.m. ---- Grandview depart 9:15 a.m. ---- 3:35 p.m. Seward arrive 11:05 a.m. ---- 5:20 p.m. Train New Glacier Coastal Name Train Discovery Classic Seward depart 1:30 p.m. ---- 6:00 p.m. Grandview arrive 3:15 p.m. ---- 7:45 p.m. Grandview depart ---- 3:30 p.m. 7:45 p.m. Spencer arrive ---- 4:30 p.m. 8:15 p.m. Spencer depart ---- 4:40 p.m. 8:15 p.m. Portage arrive ---- 5:15 p.m. 8:30 p.m. Portage depart ---- 5:25 p.m. ---- Whittier arrive ---- 6:05 p.m. ---- Whittier depart ---- 6:45 p.m. ---- Portage arrive ---- 7:15 p.m. ---- Portage depart ---- 7:20 p.m. 8:30 p.m. Girdwood arrive ---- 7:40 p.m. 8:50 p.m. Girdwood depart ---- 7:45 p.m. 8:55 p.m. Anchorage arrive ---- 9:00 p.m. 10:15 p.m. The railroad would have a few challenges if it were to do something like this. Would it have enough time in Seward to utilize just a single coach car for the new train, or would it have to haul the entire consist to Grandview and back (there would only be 40 minutes in Seward, from 5:20 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., to get the full Coastal Classic consist ready for the trip back to Anchorage)? Without a wye or loop at Grandview, there would need to be a locomotive at each end (as is done with the Hurricane Turn train), or use a cab car, as is done with the Coastal Classic and its Chugach Explorer DMU car 751 (perhaps the railroad could get a used cab car from a commuter railroad or Amtrak). If only the Alaska Railroad still had an RDC car in its fleet! There might also be an issue with the maximum number of hours of service for the operating crew. There would have to be some quick shuffling of equipment at Grandview for unloading and loading of passengers, being rushed in part because the southbound chartered cruise trains come through Grandview at approximately 3:40 p.m. But if the railroad could get past these challenges, then this added train--or some other service plan--could be instituted so that there would be transportation that would provide needed transportation between Whittier and Seward.
  15. Look to Alaska Cruise Transportation for the greatest number of options that combine Whittier-to-Anchorage bus transportation with sightseeing enroute. http://www.alaskacruisetransfer.com
  16. Fundamentally, the problem you're facing is that transportation is structured radially, all oriented towards Anchorage, rather than operating directly between outlying areas. To get from Whittier to Seward, you need to use transportation that operates from Whittier to Anchorage, then transfer to transportation that operates from Anchorage to Seward. Both the Whittier and the Seward routes converge at Portage, and travel the same path the rest of the way into Anchorage, so it is possible, at least in theory, to travel from Whittier on Anchorage-bound transportation, alight at Portage, and transfer onto Seward-bound transportation that is coming from Anchorage. The practical problem is that the schedules are not designed for these transfers (and not all transportation is scheduled to stop at Portage). Thus, you could end up having to wait for connecting transportation at Portage, at what is, in essence, the middle of no place for an extended period of time (at most the nearby Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center could provide a diversion during the waiting time). Not at all convenient. You could get transportation from Whittier to Anchorage, and connecting transportation from Anchorage to Seward, but it would occupy nearly the entire day. The Park Connection bus service departs Whittier at 9:45 a.m., passes through Portage at 10:10 a.m., and arrives in downtown Anchorage (Dena'ina Civic Center) at 11:30 a.m., at a cost of $75. The connecting Park Connection bus departs downtown Anchorage (Dena'ina Civic Center) at 3:00 p.m., passes through Portage at 4:30 p.m., and arrives in Seward at 6:00 p.m., also at a cost of $75. While not a direct transfer, at least you can do the journey entirely with a single company that can minimize the inconvenience of the transfer (over eight hours for a trip that requires only two hours if traveled directly). There is some consolation in that you would have 3-1/2 hours in Anchorage to see that city and get a pleasant lunch during the connection time.
  17. The first class "GoldStar" service offered by the Alaska Railroad is a plus: it costs more money. I think it is overpriced, and I prefer the traditional accommodations that come coach "Adventure Class" service, including its unreserved Vista-Dome. However, some others do believe the extra cost is worthwhile because of the Ultra Dome cars used for first class "GoldStar" service, including its outside observation deck and lower level dining room. It does not seem likely that tickets will not be available on the day you desire to travel. Norwegian Cruise Line departs Seward on Mondays. The day before, Sunday, is a day when Holland America Line departs from Whittier, not Seward. The main travel days for Seward are Mondays (Norwegian Cruise Line) and Fridays (Royal Caribbean/Celebrity), and lesser so on Wednesdays (Regent Seven Seas Cruises) and Thursdays (Silversea Cruises). Travel to Seward will likely have lesser demand than these other days. I would not recommend the "Denali route" from Anchorage to Fairbanks for the simple reason that it does not go to where you need to go to board your vessel. The train would take you in the opposite direction, away from your cruise vessel. It would require an entire day to travel from Anchorage to Fairbanks, then another day to travel from Fairbanks back to Anchorage. Then you still have the matter of getting from Anchorage to Seward. The specific scenery and landscape between Anchorage and Seward is distinct from that between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Only in the most general sense--that Alaska in general has beautiful mountainous scenery throughout--are these routes comparable. If there is no rail transportation available from Anchorage to Seward on the desired travel day, then I suggest looking at a different day to travel. Were you travel on Monday itself, Norwegian Cruise Line itself will offer charter train transportation on a second train to Seward that originates at the Anchorage airport station (not downtown Anchorage), a single-class train that utilizes Panorama Dome cars for all passengers. Alternatively, you could travel on a one-day round-trip on the Glacier Discovery train, from Anchorage to Grandview and return. This train travels the same route as the trains that go to Seward, but it turns back at Grandview, which is 69 miles south of Anchorage, but 41 miles short of Seward. Then the next day, Monday, use the parallel bus service from Anchorage to Seward offered daily by the Park Connection and Seward Bus Lines services, and additional service on days vessels are in port offered by Alaska Cruise Transportation.
  18. I don't understand why your CDW would have excluded windshield damage. Neither the "Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver" benefit provided by my credit card issuer, nor the rental vehicle endorsement required by law to be included in motor vehicle liability insurance policies issued against vehicles registered in my home state, impose any limitation as to the type of damage sustained. That is, damage to windshields seemingly should be covered as any other type of damage to the rented vehicle. Why was it not covered by your CDW? Might it have been a peculiar exception to your particular CDW coverage? I would be reluctant to urge others to accept "windshield damage" coverage from the rental agency if they already have such coverage.
  19. Because the purpose of the overnight stay is simply to facilitate the transfer from one train to another, a hotel proximate to the train station may be the best choice. While the area immediately surrounding the train station is largely industrial and does not have much commercial activity, you're not going to have much time between trains to do much in Anchorage overnight beyond sleeping. The train from Seward, the Coastal Classic, is scheduled to arrive in Anchorage at 10:15 p.m. The trains to Denali, the combined Denali Star-Wilderness Express, and the McKinley Explorer, are scheduled to depart from Anchorage at 8:15 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., respectively. The Wingate by Wyndham fits this criterion well, and with a level 1500-foot walk from the train station, is probably the most convenient and reasonably priced. Some other hotels might be incrementally closer geographically, but keep in mind that there is also a slight hill to climb when walking southward from the train station. In any case, best to have dinner in the railroad dining car before arrival, and not worry about finding a restaurant or delivery late night in Anchorage.
  20. Precisely. I have an interest in urban development, including the city planning history and the railroads and public transportation systems that led to, and continue to support, the city centre and the surrounding region. Accordingly, I am inclined to visit places that have economic significance, and go to places that show these aspects: visiting historic railroad stations, walking the city centre, popping into a history museum, and utilizing the public transportation (not necessarily to go someplace specific, but to review equipment, facilities, and transit centres). To me, Saint John meets my criteria for being "worthwhile." But that may be that I have my peculiar interests that others may not share. The other extreme consists of people with no inherent interests in anything, and will simply do whatever it is that the tourism industry tells them that they "should" do (which, for Saint John, might be the reversing falls). For these individuals, the cruise lines generally ensure that there is some type of tour available to that tourist site and sight. In my view mass market tours are rarely "worthwhile," but others very much enjoy them. Others venture no further than the port facilities themselves when docked, and judge the worthwhileness of a port by the vendors and other attributes of those facilities, rather than the larger city in which the port is located. Some might judge a port from its perceived scenic beauty, while other judge it by the physical activities present therein. In short, I don't know what makes a place "worthwhile" to you. It is so hard for me and many others to provide personal judgments for others in the absence of any controlling criteria. Provide some context as to what makes a place "worthwhile" to you. Better yet, read a book about the geography of the Maritimes generally, or of Saint John specifically, and then ask some specific questions here, not addressed in the book, to ascertain if it would be "worthwhile" to you.
  21. What an interesting situation you raise, especially in the context of when something goes awry. Not something typically of concerns to passengers, but a technical matter that is of importance to the legal interests of the companies involved. Consider, for example, a collision between one of the buses arranged by the cruise line and another motor vehicles, with resulting damage and injuries. The owner of the other vehicle sues both the bus company and the cruise line. If the cruise line did not control the transportation, then it would not be liable (on the ground that brokers do not, themselves, provide transportation, and only the carrier is held liable . . . just as travel agents are not held liable when airliners crash). But increasingly courts have been holding brokers liable--probably because some carriers are not well-capitalized and their brokers have deeper pockets (would you rather try to collect from a local bus company or from Carnival Corporation?)--and so courts have been finding legal mechanisms for holding the broker liable. If the cruise line allowed the bus company employees, or some other services company, e.g., Intercruises, to wear cruise line badges or identifying clothing (perhaps a license or agent-principal arrangement), then it could possible for the court to find the cruise line in control and therefore liable as a motor carrier. I have not read any cases on this subject--and most cases in this field relate to trucking--so it is speculation on my part. You've given me something to ponder. It would be interesting to see the results of such litigation, as it would provide useful guidance for the cruise lines that act as brokers in arranging this type of bus service. (As a parallel, consider the buses in Westchester County. The buses themselves are owned by the county, and marked as such, but they are operated by employees of Liberty Lines Transit. The uniforms worn by the drivers are all emblazoned with Liberty Lines identifiers, not Westchester County identifiers. I think the same may be true in New Jersey, where some bus routes use buses owned by New Jersey Transit, and marked as such, but are operated by employees of Academy Lines, Coach USA, or others. It may also be true for the on-airport bus services, with buses owned by the Port Authority but operated by employees of ABM Aviation.)
  22. Am I correct in my assumption that the "greeter" is an employee of the bus company, and not of the cruise line? If I were counsel for the cruise line, I would be concerned about having cruise line employees being in radio contact with, and otherwise directing the movement of, individual bus drivers--because doing so would place the cruise line at risk of controlling the transportation of passengers, and of being liable as a motor carrier of passengers (vis-à-vis a broker therefor), both in tort and as to regulation--and I would insist that it be only bus company employees that supervise and direct the movement of bus drivers. The bus companies I managed would utilize starters (a.k.a. SLDs, or surface line dispatchers) and inspectors (a.k.a. road supervisors) primarily to control the movement of buses, but occasionally these supervisors would interact with passengers as an ancillary duty. But they would not routinely "greet" passengers as might be done for persons at an airport intending to utilize bus transportation to the port. So with my bus companies the terminology was clear and traditional. But for this cruise port transportation, it seems like the supervisors do both--both "greet" passengers, as a customer service responsibility, and also direct the movement of individual bus drivers--so I suppose the terminology might vary depending on one's perspective.
  23. I do not use these services--particularly here in New York City where I use regular public transportation between home and port--nor have I observed these operations. If it is as you describe, then it must be a boring job for the bus company's starter stationed at each terminal (particularly for a lightly-used terminal, such as the Marine Air Terminal). Once passengers locate the bus company starter, I imagine that they will be requested to stand around, waiting for the bus to get there, rather than to report back at a specific time. Is this true?
  24. With those planned stops, you would not have a practicable choice but for a rental vehicle. The various bus lines might stop to let you off at those locations, but they won't wait for you, and it could be difficult arranging for a pick-up by the following bus. If you were to charter a bus (which is, in effect, a "rental vehicle"), then you could make these planned stops . . . but beware that you will be charged for the time consumed by these stops. As to bus lines generally: I would recommend other bus lines over Seward Bus Lines because the other bus lines would provide better service. However, given that Seward Bus Lines is a smaller operation, with much less internal bureaucracy, you would likely have greater opportunity to negotiate a lower fare, either a group fare (meaning, the cost per person) or a charter fare (meaning, the cost for the entire bus). Keep in mind that the larger the group, the more room you have to negotiate . . . you don't have to accept a fixed price. As to a charter fare: The typical cost for an all-day charter of a mini-bus in the lower 48 is $1,000 (higher in the big cities). You would need only a six-hour charter (three hours each way between Seward and Anchorage), so figure $750 to be a fair cost. Alaska Cruise Transportation advertises charter bus cost starting at $120 per hour, or $720 for a six-hour charter. You would likely get better service from Alaska Cruise Transportation than from Seward Bus Lines, so factor that into any negotiations. You could also contact Premier Alaska Tours for a charter bus quote. This is the company that provides buses to Alaska Tour & Travel for its Park Connection bus service. However, it is likely that this company will only be able to offer full size motorcoaches, and for that reason I would not expect it to be able to provide a competitive quote. Competing with Premier Alaska Tours is Royal Hyway Tours (a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Corporation), but I don't think that the company has mini-buses or even offers charter bus service. Maybe I am wrong about that. Get as good of an offer as possible from Alaska Cruise Transportation (or Premier Alaska Tours or Royal Hyway Tours), then see if Seward Bus Lines will undercut it. As to a group fare: The standard fare charged by Alaska Cruise Transportation, for a single adult from Seward to Anchorage airport, is $69, and the child fare is $60, so its regular fare for your group would be $714. That company also offers group fares, though those rates are not advertised, I would expect the bus company would offer, or be willing to entertain an offer for, a group fare of around $500. With that in mind, you could offer Seward Bus Lines a slightly lower amount as a group fare.
  25. The noted bus company, Alaska Cruise Transportation, operates regularly scheduled service between Seward and the Anchorage airport, but does so in connection with cruise vessel schedules. Thus, it only operates from Seward on Fridays and alternate Mondays (there are additional trips on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but these are in the morning and arrive at the airport at 11:00 a.m., even earlier than the Park Connection bus schedule). Buses depart Seward on Fridays and alternate Mondays at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m., arriving at the airport in 2-1/2 hours. So unless one is alighting from a Silversea Cruises vessel on a Thursday morning, and planning to travel to the airport on Friday, the Alaska Cruise Transportation schedule is unlikely to work. (The bus company had planned to operate a daily schedule, including non-cruise days, but that plan seems to have fallen through.) Another bus company is Seward Bus Lines, www.sewardbuslines.net, a local company that operates a daily service from Seward to Anchorage, departing at 9:30 a.m. and arriving at 12:00 noon. Given the size of your group, the company might be able to offer an additional departure, or a chartered trip, using a mini-bus, on a schedule that meets your particular needs. You might want to make inquiry of the company, mentioning in particular the size of your group. As for a rental vehicle: what stops might you be planning to make? Girdwood? It seems that incurring a high cost to rent two vehicles, for the purpose of making a relatively short stop, might not be economically efficient.
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