What began as a vision in 2003 has become reality. Starting today, April 16, 2012 Amtrak deployed electronic ticketing on the Capitol Corridor® and San Joaquin® routes. Similar to airline ticketing, intercity rail tickets can now be purchased and received at your home or the office. We are thrilled to offer Amtrak’s enhanced eTicketing solution to our customers. Many of the features of Amtrak’s new onboard ticketing option were tested and developed in a pilot program Capitol Corridor conducted over a two-year period—kudos to Amtrak for developing this trial into a national ticketing system.
The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) has sought this solution since 2003 and we are proud of our contributions to the final national Amtrak program. The CCJPA was so dedicated to an electronic ticket option that we launched our “Automated Ticketing Validation” (ATV) pilot program from 2009 to 2011. The ATV program used a mobile device to achieve a way to validate and scan passenger tickets on a moving train. On the operation side, the CCJPA ATV system helped enhance passenger safety/security matters and strengthened revenue control measures by creating a passenger manifest list and ensuring proper and thorough onboard ticket validation and sales. In regards to customer service, we knew passengers would prefer the convenience of printing out tickets in their home or office. As technology evolved, we knew riders would like to have the option to simply display an eTicket barcode to the conductor from a smartphone for a hassle-free ticket purchasing experience.
What Amtrak did was to “marry” efficiency with popular technology. They took CCJPA’s core solutions and put it in the convenience of an iPhone. Now they are in the process of training their 1,700 conductors on this endeavor and we applaud their efforts!
eTicketing Means More Flexibility
Amtrak’s news release states eTickets provide passengers more flexibility when making or changing reservations and eliminates the need to obtain traditional paper tickets. Passengers also have the ability to print their reservations. A receipt will be e-mailed to the passenger with the eTicket attached as a printable document. Those passengers using their smartphones can present their eTicket to the conductor by simply opening the eTicket document from their e-mail to display the barcode for scanning. If a customer misplaces their eTicket, they can reprint the document to present onboard. Passengers may also print their eTickets at Amtrak ticket offices and Quik-Trak™ kiosks.
Phases of the eTicketing Program
Initially, this pilot program will only issue “eTickets” for one-way and roundtrip travel on the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains. California Thruway Buses will join this pilot over the summer and passengers will continue to receive a conventional paper value ticket if they have purchased a Multi-Ride Ticket (such as a monthly or 10-ride ticket).
During the field pilot in California, only the Capitol Corridor and Amtrak California San Joaquin trains will begin using the new eTicketing system. Connecting California Thruway Buses will follow suit with the first few bus routes becoming eTicket-ready in early summer. Amtrak expects to convert the entire California Thruway bus system to eTicketing gradually, with the transition complete by late summer.