ANNISTON, AL (WBRC) - The city of Anniston is trying to reinvent itself as a hub for bicycle enthusiasts, with nearly all trails leading to the city's train station.
But when Amtrak announced new bicycle-friendly stops for its New York-to-New Orleans Crescent Line this week, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa made the cut, but Anniston didn't.
Amtrak issued a statement on Monday saying more stops had been added for bicycle service, but only at staffed stations that offer checked baggage.
Currently, the old Southern Railway Station that's now used as Anniston's multi-modal center doesn't have enough Amtrak staff. The Amtrak Crescent stops in Anniston twice a day.
Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart says he understands that as a reason, but hasn't given up on the idea that city officials can talk the passenger railway into adding Anniston as a stop.
City officials have been working to re-invent Anniston as a bicycle-friendly town for years. Plans are in the works to extend the Chief Ladiga Trail through much of Anniston, bringing it from Weaver to the railroad station.
The station is also located blocks from downtown Anniston and close to the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail.
Stewart says he plans to discuss the matter with the city's director of planning, Toby Bennington, and city manager Brian Johnson.
The Amtrak news release says the service will only be available at staffed stations in New Orleans, LA, Meridian, MS, Tuscaloosa, AL, Birmingham, AL, Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, Charlotte, NC, Greensboro, NC, Lynchburg, VA, Charlottesville, VA, Alexandria, VA, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, Wilmington, DE, Philadelphia, PA, Newark, NJ, and New York City, NY. It can only be done with advance reservation.
There is a $20 bike service fee, according to the news release, which says "passengers can reserve their bikes by selecting 'add bike' when they book their train travel on Amtrak.com, by calling 800-USA-RAIL, or by visiting any staffed ticket office. "
Passengers would need to be in place 45 minutes ahead of schedule with their bikes.
In a follow up email responding to WBRC's inquiry about Anniston, a spokesperson didn't rule out Anniston being added later as a stop for the bicycle service.
"We look forward to measuring the success of this bike service with an eye to expansion to additional stations and routes across our national network," spokesperson Kimberly Woods said.
Amtrak partnered with experts in the bicycle community to form the Amtrak Bike Task Force to learn more about the needs of passengers who travel with their bikes and options to serve them."