08 May 2012

Amtrak Adopts iPhones in Place of Ticket Punchers

US railway Amtrak turns to mobile phone technology for ticket sales, record keeping
"I've got 274 fart apps in my pocket..."
(image: Amtrak)

America's favorite money-losing government program rolls boldly into the 21st century. Amtrak claims train travel will soon be paperless: schedule and pay on-line, before boarding. When the conductor asks for your ticket, simply flash the special bar code on your iPhone or Android device.

The federally-funded railroad corporation, is spending $7.5 million to put the days of manual processing behind them. With new hand-held devices for the employees and new dedicated apps for passengers, Amtrak executives claim we'll soon see better service...and a lot fewer chads on the floor.

Money quotes:
Each conductor’s iPhone is equipped with a case containing an extra battery and a bar-code scanner, and has a special app to scan tickets but also to do much more.
For example, with the app, conductors can indicate to the engineer if a disabled person is getting on at a particular stop so that the train staff can be prepared to coordinate the track and the wheelchair lift.
The app also allows conductors to report equipment failures, like broken toilet fixtures, to mechanics.
 For passengers, the new system means it will be easier to book or modify reservations. For example, if a rider discovered at the last minute that she had to take a train at a different time, she could make the change online or in Amtrak’s iPhone app, whereas previously she would have had to refund a ticket and buy a new one at a machine or through an agent.

via: NYT

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