Amtrak to offer more connections to ISU students for Winter Break


Richard Martinez / Iowa State

The Ames Intermodal Facility, situated at the interaction of Hayward Avenue and Chamberlin Street, serves commuters by providing shuttle service to the Amtrak station in Osceola, Iowa and bus lines to Minneapolis or St. Louis.

Brian Day

Not every one of the more than 33,000 students attending Iowa State is from Iowa and has an easy means of getting back home to see friends and family during Winter Break. Amtrak is now offering those students an option. 

This holiday season, for six days only, Amtrak is offering a new service called the Amtrak Thruway Bus Connection. This service features new train routes from Ames or Des Moines through Osceola, Iowa, to any of its locations nationwide.

“We want to give students, and faculty and staff for that matter, too, another option when it comes to getting from Ames or Des Moines to anywhere in our network [of] more than 500 locations,” said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman.

The Amtrak station in Osceola will serve as the connecting station for buses coming from Ames and Des Moines because of the heavy amount of traffic that the station receives on a yearly basis.

”We know a lot of people are driving to Osceola. Over 14,000 people, which is more than the population of Osceola, used our services last year,” Magliari said. “We know from talking to them that a lot of people are coming down from Ames and Des Moines, so this just enables us to make it even easier for them to get there.”

At this time, these new connecting routes are only going to be available from Dec. 18 to 20 and Jan. 11 to 13, 2014, in an attempt to give college students and other university employees another option for getting home. Magliari said he thinks that there could be potential to expand the service more.

“It’s an entrepreneurial experiment for these six days,” Magliari said. “We’ll see how these six days go and then we’ll see about doing it more often.”

Zach Bartlet, junior in materials engineering, has taken the Amtrak from Galesburg, Ill., to Chicago and said that he preferred it to driving a car.

“There was a large group of my friends and I who were going, and it was much cheaper to take that than to drive a bunch of cars. Also we didn’t have to deal with parking in Chicago then,” Bartlett said.

Magliari also suggests that Amtrak is a better option for people who might be hesitant about driving in the seemingly unpredictable Iowa weather.

“In December or January weather, which in central Iowa can be sometimes unpleasant for driving, having a professional who will take care of getting you across the state might be of some comfort to people who don’t want to face driving in central Iowa,” Magliari said.

Amtrak also offers many other amenities that might not be available to you through other train services, such as a full dining car service, a cafe, a snack bar and the ability to just get up and move around while the train is in motion.

“We’re a way more comfortable way to travel,” Magliari said. “Unlike stopping at truck stops, or a rest area or wherever the other carrier chooses to stop, you can make your way across the country on an Amtrak train and be up walking around, seeing the sights, talking to other people and traveling from car to car.”

Magliari said Amtrak is looking forward to meeting the needs of ISU students, faculty and staff.

“This is an important entrepreneurial step for us and we’re going to see how it works,” Magliari said.