Amtrak will begin piloting eTicketing on two state- supported California rail corridors – the Capitol Corridor® (Auburn-Sacramento-Emeryville/SF-Oakland-San Jose) and Amtrak California San Joaquin® (Sacramento-Oakland-Bakersfield).
Passengers can now make reservations and print their electronic tickets from home or the office. Initially, this pilot program will only issue eTickets for one-way and roundtrip travel on the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains. eTicketed travel to or from connecting services, such as on the California Thruway Buses, will join this pilot over the summer.
The eTicketing program provides passengers increased flexibility when making or changing reservations and eliminates the need to obtain traditional paper tickets. Passengers will now have the ability to print their eTickets themselves. A receipt will be e-mailed to the passenger with the eTicket attached as a printable document. Those passengers using their smartphones can also 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.
“Amtrak’s eTicketing program makes it easier than ever to travel by train,” said Acting Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Whether you’re on vacation or traveling for work, Amtrak California helps you get where you need to go.”
“We are thrilled to offer Amtrak’s enhanced eTicketing solution to our customers,” CCJPA Managing Director David Kutrosky said. “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.”
“We thank our partners at Caltrans and CCJPA for their continued support and cooperation in helping bring this exciting initiative to our passengers in Northern and Central California,” said Emmett Fremaux, Amtrak vice president for marketing and product development. “We anticipate the program expanding to Southern California and the rest of the Amtrak system by the end of the summer. The eTicketing process provides a more convenient and flexible way for passengers to book their travel.”
During the field pilot in California, only the Capitol Corridor and 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. Converting the entire California Thruway bus system to eTicketing will be undertaken in stages and will be completed by late summer.
Amtrak intends to develop its eTicketing capability in a gradual manner. For this reason, not all tickets will be eTicket eligible. For example, 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). Similarly, they will still receive paper value tickets if they are traveling on a route excluded from this pilot, such as the California Thruway Bus, Pacific Surfliner route or are traveling beyond the Capitol Corridor or San Joaquin services, on some other Amtrak service.
Amtrak’s eTicketing project began in November 2011 on the Amtrak Downeaster service (Boston – Portland, Maine), followed by the launch onboard Amtrak City of New Orleans (Chicago – New Orleans) last month. To meet this summer’s goal for a nationwide eTicketing launch, Amtrak is now in process of training its approximately 1,700 conductors. During this transition period, passengers may see conductors using the eTicketing Mobile Device on trains throughout Amtrak’s national network. Conductors will still collect and punch traditional paper tickets, and scanning these will allow conductors to become more familiar with the eTicketing mobile equipment.
With the introduction of this new eTicketing capability for customers, Amtrak has also garnered industry recognition by earning a spot on the 2011 InformationWeek 500 list of top technology innovators across America. This prestigious award recognizes Amtrak’s innovative use of this mobile technology and how it enhances the passenger’s travel experience and ability for Amtrak employees to deliver a higher level of safety and customer service.