Can You Ride Amtrak from Columbus, Ohio?

Can You Ride Amtrak from Columbus, Ohio?

The simple answer to this question is, well, no – there is no Amtrak station in Columbus, Ohio. The recent Amtrak funding in the infrastructure bill, as well as support from local transit organizations, gives me hope there will be a station in the 2030’s, but that’s a long way off.

But, for my wife and I’s 3-week trip to the Pacific Northwest, we were dead-set on riding Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

That meant we needed to find a way from Columbus to Cincinnati, which is where the nearest Amtrak station is.

If you want to ride Amtrak from Columbus, Ohio, you have two stations to choose from, and two ways to get there: Cincinnati and Cleveland.

traveling in ohio by train

What Amtrak Stations are Near Columbus, Ohio?

There are two stations within a two-hour drive of Columbus: Cleveland and Cincinnati.

They’re both roughly the same distance from each other, and they both head roughly to the same places.

Each station can get you to Chicago, New York, or DC without too much hassle. The only real hassle is getting to the station!

Here’s a close-up of the state from Amtrak’s Travel Planning Map:

travel map amtrak in ohio

As you can see, there are a few more stops that are within driving distance, such as the one in Toledo or the one near Portsmouth.

The trouble with these minor stations is that not all of them are staffed, making them pretty hard to board/depart from compared to staffed stations in larger cities!

In the end, we decided to go to Cincinnati Union Terminal to begin our trip. Cleveland would have been fine, but the route from Cincy ended up being a little faster.

How to Get to Amtrak Stations from Columbus Ohio

You have two options when it comes to getting to your train: driving or taking a bus.

The Greyhound bus was, in theory, the simplest way to get to the station. However, Greyhound would have dropped us off more than 10 hours before our departure with nothing to do but hold our luggage. It’s also cheaper than gas these days, and the high prices of Amtrak tickets are something else entirely – so Greyhound is a solid choice. You also don’t have to pay for parking at the station if you take the bus, which saves you another couple of bucks.

Greyhound Routes from Columbus to Cincinnati

Greyhound has two buses running from Columbus to Cincinnati each day. The departure point that is closest to the Amtrak station is more than 2 miles away:

map greyhound in Cincinnati to Union Terminal

On top of that, the latest arrival is 4:15 PM, and the Amtrak heading to Chicago doesn’t pull in until 2 AM. Not exactly the best timing.

greyhound departures columbus to Cincinnati

Because Amtrak only runs through Cincinnati in the middle of the night, taking an afternoon bus didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

We chose to drive (read: we chose to have someone drive us to avoid paying for parking).

Greyhound from Columbus to Cleveland

Taking a bus from Columbus to Cleveland to catch your train is much more feasible.

The last Greyhound bus arrives in “The Land” just after 8 PM, and the first Amtrak to Chicago leaves at 3 AM. It’s still a long layover, but significantly better than the one in Cincinnati.

Even better, the walk from Cleveland’s Greyhound station to the Amtrak station is just over a mile:

greyhound cleveland to Amtrak Cleveland

How Much Does Parking Cost at Cincinnati Union Terminal?

Parking at Cincinnati Union Terminal will cost you 6 dollars per day. That’s pretty much the same as airport parking, which is usually 5 or 7 dollars a day at Ohio Airports.

Depending on the length of your trip, it’s more cost-effective to drive to the station and park long term!

How Much is Parking at Cleveland Amtrak?

You can choose to pay for multiple days of parking with SpotHero, and average prices are $23/night. While Amtrak doesn’t say much about parking at/near their Cleveland station, our readers have reported that you can, in fact, park for free for as long as a week. Since I’ve not done an Amtrak trip out of Cleveland yet, that’s all the info I’ve got. But, suffice it to say: you can park your car for an Amtrak trip leaving Cleveland, and it doesn’t even have to hurt your wallet!

Next Up: All About Cincinnati Union Terminal

Tomorrow, I’ll write all about the coolest train station I have ever seen: Cincinnati Union Terminal!