Here’s what you need to know about the Amtrak Missouri River Runner train from St. Louis to Kansas City, plus my personal experiences.
I’ve been in love with the idea of train travel for a long time now, but I still haven’t traveled by train all that much. I imagine riding the rails across Europe or Asia, but taking the train around the U.S. always falls to the back of my mind. It’s just not as common here.
I have been wanting to travel with Amtrak for a long time, but for some reason I always end up on planes or driving to my destination instead. I mean, the U.S. is HUGE, so being on a train for days isn’t usually the best option.
However, once I realized how CHEAP it is to take the Amtrak from St. Louis to travel a little closer to home (within the Midwest rather than long-haul cross country journeys), it totally flipped my opinion of US train travel.
Back in September, I took the bus from St. Louis to Chicago because it was only $6 each way! That’s insane, and I couldn’t pass that up as a budget traveler. I planned to take the bus on my return trip home, but…well, the bus wasn’t as comfortable as I’d hoped it would be. I could deal with it for $6, but I decided to try taking the Amtrak from Chicago to St. Louis instead. For just $24, I figured it still wasn’t a bad deal.
I was SO happy with my decision. The train may have been 4 times the amount of the bus, but for the improvements in comfort, cleanliness, and overall happiness, it was more than worth it. And again, $24 to get between the two cities is crazy cheap in terms of U.S. travel, so it didn’t hurt my wallet.
After an amazing experience on the Amtrak from Chicago to St. Louis, I decided train travel was my new favorite way to get around here in the States. So I immediately booked another train trip for October. This time I took the Amtrak from St. Louis to Kansas City on the Missouri River Runner.
Since my train journey from Chicago to St. Louis was a last minute decision, I didn’t plan to document the trip at all. But when I took Amtrak from St. Louis to Kansas City, I made sure to test things out and get lots of photos so I could compile all the info.
Before we go any further, let me just state this very clearly: this post is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Amtrak. I paid for the trip myself and I am writing this post independently.
Amtrak Missouri River Runner (St. Louis to Kansas City)
Let’s just start with some basic information and details about the Amtrak Missouri River Runner. This is the train that runs between St. Louis and Kansas City, with stops in smaller towns across the state of Missouri. It runs daily both ways.
Train: Missouri River Runner
Main Destinations: St. Louis, Jefferson City, Kansas City
Frequency: Daily, two trips each way
Time: The full route (St. Louis to Kansas City) takes about 5-6 hours
Missouri River Runner Tickets & Pricing
Fares: Check the Amtrak website for details on all Fare Types. I purchased a “Saver Fare”, which is the cheapest ticket option.
Seating: On the Missouri River Runner, all ticket holders are guaranteed a seat. Although it is referred to as “reserved seating”, seats are unassigned. Seating is based on first-come, first-served. You can also purchase a business class seat.
Baggage: All passengers are allowed 2 carry-on items and 2 checked bags, included in the price of their ticket. Extra bags will cost more. Find details about baggage size and allowance here.
Pricing: Price varies based on fare type, how far you will be traveling, and the time of your trip. I paid about $64 for a round-trip saver fare ticket between St. Louis and Kansas City, so about $32 each way. This is a pretty common range for this route.
Amtrak Boarding Process
The boarding process and station experience is one of the best parts about traveling by train in the U.S. compared to flying. There’s no major security checks to go through, lines are relatively short, and getting everyone on the train is usually pretty quick.
There is a designated waiting area at each station. When it’s time to board, line up, show your boarding pass, and then you can walk out to the train platform. Get on the train, choose your seat, and once the train starts up, an attendant will come around to scan your boarding pass.
I’m sure more popular train routes in other parts of the country can be a bit more difficult to deal with, but things seem to run smoothly on the Missouri River Runner.
Missouri River Runner Onboard Experience
My overall experience onboard the Amtrak Missouri River Runner was fantastic. I’m just going to briefly talk about the main points so you know what to expect.
The cars feel very clean and spacious. Nothing feels cramped or crowded, which is what I’ve become used to taking budget flights and buses. The seats are airplane style seats, with the option to recline and a tray table on the back of each seat. Each row is made up of two seats on each side of the aisle (4 total per row).
I’ve taken the Amtrak three times now (Chicago to St. Louis, St. Louis to Kansas City, Kansas City to St. Louis), and I’ve always had my own space (2 seats to myself, so I never had to sit next to anyone). This is probably because the routes I took aren’t typically as crowded, so it’s not uncommon to be able to do that if you’re traveling alone. However, that’s not to say the trains will never be full on those routes, so if you are traveling with others, just sit together instead of taking up extra seats (the train attendant did mention this to a big group of girls who all chose to sit separately).
There isn’t any built in entertainment, so be sure to bring your laptop or tablet if you want to watch movies. Even though the wi-fi worked well, I’d still recommend downloading anything you want to watch beforehand, just in case.
The bathrooms are similar to airplane bathrooms, but a bit more spacious if you ask me. I found them to be clean and comfortable. There will usually be 2 bathrooms in each car-one at the front and one at the back. So there shouldn’t be any waiting for the bathrooms.
You can get up and walk around the train freely, so you don’t need to feel confined to your seat. Obviously you don’t want to block the aisles, but getting up to walk or stretch is easy to do. Walk to the café car any time for a selection of drinks and food. You can also bring your own food and drinks onboard.
Working Onboard Amtrak
Working on trains might be my new favorite thing. If I could make Amtrak my office, I think I’d do it!
I felt really productive and got so much work done on every trip. Personally, I felt like the overall atmosphere really helped me focus. The free wi-fi was super reliable and worked throughout the whole trip. There might have been a couple of times where it slowed down a bit, but it didn’t interrupt my workflow at all. There are also outlets available for each seat, so you can charge everything as you go.
What I Didn’t Like
I’m going to be honest…there wasn’t much I didn’t like about my experience with the Amtrak Missouri River Runner.
The only thing I’m going to bring up here is the delays. Yes, there could be delays. I believe my train was an hour or so behind schedule because we had to wait for another train to pass further down the track. The reason I didn’t even want to mention this is because delays don’t really bother me. It’s just something you have to deal with sometimes with any form of public transport. I wouldn’t say delays should be EXPECTED, just that they can happen.
If your train does experience delays, the conductor will make announcements. However, I found that even while ON the train, it was more helpful to just check the train status on the website. You can see expected arrival times there, even if you don’t get the full details from the announcements. If someone is planning to pick you up from the station, have them check the train status as well so they know when to arrive.
Final Verdict: Amtrak Kansas City to St. Louis
I am really happy with all of my Amtrak experience thus far. The Missouri River Runner is a great route, the train is nice and comfortable, and the overall experience was enjoyable. I’m just so over driving, so being able to make the trip between St. Louis and Kansas City without my car was so relaxing.
It’s really affordable, it’s really comfortable, and train travel is just fun. Everyone I spoke to about my train trip was so intrigued and surprise, because no one thinks to take the train anymore. People were even more interested in the fact that it was so cheap!
So if you are planning to travel from Kansas City to St. Louis, vice versa, or anywhere in between, I highly recommend taking the train. The full trip does take longer than driving, but I found the pace to be relaxing. Again, I was just so happy to not have to drive. I got to use that time to get work done instead!
What to Do in St. Louis, Missouri
If you’re looking for things to do in St. Louis, check out these posts for ideas:
- 22 Free Things to Do in St. Louis
- Gateway Arch National Park
- Missouri Botanical Garden
- Laumeier Sculpture Park
What to Do in Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City is such a great city. Here are a couple of suggestions for how to spend your time:
Have you ever traveled by train in the U.S.? Would you consider taking the Amtrak on your next trip?
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