Archive for September, 2008

Amtrak News

September 25, 2008

This week a client came in and wanted me to issue an Amtrak ticket for a reservation he had made directly with the rail company. This is routinely done here, as our Amtrak station is not manned, and people traveling on Amtrak still need a paper ticket to get on the train.

I could not claim his reservation, so I called Amtrak only to be told I should send my client to the Amtrak station where there now is a kiosk where a traveler can print out a ticket. I had not heard of that, and since my client was already in my office, I was finally able to claim and ticket his reservation.

At the end of that day I went to the Amtrak station at Wisman Lane to see this kiosk for myself. Yes, there is a machine inside the building. A person can swipe a credit card and thus gain access to his reservation before ticketing it.

We discussed this at our office. While we think that generally speaking, this is a good step forward, we wonder about it a bit as well. We have a ticket printer here, and sometimes it has paper jams. Who maintains the printer at the station and how often? Who loads in the ticket stock paper? What happens if it jams? We are always told by Amtrak that all passengers MUST have a ticket in hand before getting on the train, however, many times when I was on the train, people just had a reservation number and paid the conductor….. I know this is done in unmanned stations like this one, but I also know that you cannot get on the train in Chicago, for example, without a ticket in your hand.

I encourage our clients who still want us to print their tickets for them, to continue to come in and have us do that for them. I feel a little hesitant about swiping my credit card number when this is an unmanned station – why not my drivers license to get my ID, or why not type in my reservation confirmation and then, if there is no credit card number in the record, ask for the credit card….

Just food for thought…..