College-bound students can get a half-off deal on fares this year if they take the train to scope out campuses. But they’ll need to read the footnotes on this Amtrak offer, which comes with restrictions.
The deal: “Buy One, Get One 50% Off with Campus Visit” provides 50% off a companion Amtrak ticket with the purchase of a regular adult fare. The qualifying adult must be a junior- or senior high school student visiting a college or university, with one parent or guardian traveling as a companion.
The deal is valid for coach seats on all Amtrak services except Acela Express, Auto Train; Canadian parts of joint Amtrak/Via Rail service to Ontario, Canada; and the 7000-8999Thruway bus series. You must book online, using the link from the Amtrak deal page, at least three days before traveling. A valid student ID is required when buying tickets and riding the train. For a full list of restrictions, visit the Amtrak website.
When: Book by Dec. 16 for travel through Dec. 19. Blackout dates include April 5, 6 and 9; May 25; Aug. 31; Sept. 3; Oct. 5; and Nov. 20 and 21 and 24-26. The deal is subject to availability.
Tested: On Amtrak’s website, I tried booking the deal on random dates for two adults riding the Pacific Surfliner train round trip from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, home to California Polytechnic State University. Tickets for two, leaving at 3 p.m. March 29 and returning 1:55 p.m. April 1 totaled $120 with the discount, saving $40. The trip takes about 5 1/2 hours each way, much of it along the scenic Pacific coast.
Info: Amtrak, (800) 872-7245.