RICHMOND, Va. -- Cyclists interested in exploring both ends of the Virginia Capital Trail -- and everything in between -- without making a 100-mile round trip commitment will soon be able to reserve and board their bicycles on Amtrak trains at the downtown Richmond Main Street Station.
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will launch the pilot program on May 18, during National Bike Month.
The pilot program will create a direct option for cyclists riding the Virginia Capital Trail between Richmond (RVM) and Williamsburg (WBG), as well as direct access to the many amenities and attractions near both city centers.
Customers must reserve in advance by booking online. When passengers go to book their ticket, they will see a bicycle add-on option if one of the spaces is available. The $20 charge for a bicycle is in addition to the ticket price.
For example, an Amtrak "saver" ticket on June 3 is $17, for a total of $37, plus fees. That fare includes the 25% discount for booking in advance. Otherwise the lower tier ticket is $23, for a $43 total to take your bike on the train.
On Friday and Saturday, train 65 departs Main Street Station at 9:34 a.m. and arrives at 10:38 a.m. in Williamsburg.
Sunday through Thursday, train 67 departs Main Street Station at 10:10 a.m. and arrives at 11:14 a.m. in Williamsburg.
Train 66 departs Williamsburg at 5:41 p.m. and arrives at Richmond Main Street Station at 6:30 p.m., daily.
Once cyclists arrive at the Williamsburg train station, the trail head at the Jamestown Settlement is about six miles away, directly down Route 31. Cyclists arriving in Richmond will be three blocks from the trail. There is also a transportation hub across from the station. Arriving cyclists can put their bikes on the bus and explore the rest of the city.
“The Commonwealth is proud to offer this new service to our passenger rail customers in Virginia,”said DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell. “Bicycle service at Main Street Station will provide safer and easier access to the Capital Trail and of Virginia’s great cultural and historic attractions. We are confident this pilot program will build off the success of the Capital Trail, which has positively contributed to the local economies along its route.”
The pilot extension service will not affect current arrival and departure schedules along the route. Space is limited to six bicycles in each direction, organizers said. Customers must reserve in advance by booking online at https://www.amtrak.com/virginia.
Passengers may continue to bring bikes aboard the train at staffed stations between Newport News and Boston, including: Richmond-Staples Mill, Alexandria, and Washington, D.C.
The Newport News to Boston Northeast Regional train connects Virginia to and from major northeast destinations like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City, where bicycle and baggage services are also available.
The pilot program between Williamsburg and Richmond concludes in October 2018.
There is currently a shuttle service available for cyclists that runs between Richmond and Williamsburg. The Cap Trail Bike Shuttle has three stops: The downtown trailhead at Dock and Wharf streets, the Charles City Courthouse and Jamestown Settlement. Bookings are available online. Cyclists are transported in a 13-passenger Dodge Conversion Van, which is supplied with snacks, water, phone chargers and other conveniences, according to RichmondBizSense.com. The van pulls a 16-foot trailer, custom-made to carry up to 17 bikes. A trip can run anywhere from $50-$75 per person.