Amtrak is seriously discounting some tickets on its high-speed, business class-only Acela trains in an effort to attract more leisure travelers, who have traditionally eschewed Acela for regular Amtrak service.
Right now you can snag a one-way ticket on Acela from Boston to Washington for $99, which is a pretty good deal; that ticket used to cost anywhere from $150 to $225. You can also get a $79 one-way ticket from Boston to New York, which normally costs at least $100 on Acela.
All tickets must be purchased 14 days before you’re planning on traveling, and are good for travel from March 3 through June 26.
Acela has been around now for nearly 10 years, and as the only high speed train service in the US its popularity should be better than it is. The problem is that while its much vaunted speed can reach 150 mph, there are few big sections along its only route — Boston to Washington — that allow it to reach top speed. More often, you’re sitting there observing the train basically going the same speed that a normal Amtrak train travels at, and you wonder why you paid extra for the ticket (the free New York Times waiting for you at your seat doesn’t seem quite worth it). In the end you arrive in New York, say, only about 40 minutes ahead of a normal Amtrak train.
Acela ridership is down 14 percent currently from this time a year ago, and about 10 percent if you go back a few more months. Ridership on normal Amtrak service, however, is significantly up over a year ago, thanks mostly to the dismal performance of the airline industry in 2008.