by Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Amtrak is giving customers a long-awaited technology upgrade.
The rail carrier is replacing conductors’ hole-punchers with iPhones,
meaning our tickets are finally entering the digital age.
“We will send them an electronic ticket by email or over their
smartphone that they can print themselves, or present from their
smartphone to their conductor,” explains Matt Hardison, the chief of
sales distribution and customer service at Amtrak.
It’s currently being tested now and should be rail-ready for the
Northeast Corridor by late summer. A consumer Android app is in the
works; a version for iPhone is out now.
“In the future, you’ll be able to buy or even change your tickets
right up to time of departure through the Internet or smartphone,”
Hardison says, saving passengers from the pre-boarding rush to the
automated ticket machine or ticket window.
“For example, if you’re going from Philadelphia up to New York, and
you finish your meetings up in NY early, you can change your ticket in
the cab before you get to the station, and walk right onto the train
with the updated ticketing information.”
Hardison says the new system also will help conductors request
assistance at stations for wheelchair passengers, and report
mechanical problems for a quick fix.