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Old May 8, 2012, 11:13 AM   #101
GSPice
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Originally Posted by macmikey2 View Post
I agree with this but it is not Amtrak's fault. They are not a corporation per se, but a supported, fend for yourself, government business. They try to make the dollars work each year, but it is accidents, breakdowns, and old equipment (goes way back to the 70's in some cases) that causes this. And why? Because the gov wants to keep slashing its support while at the same time touting its advantages.

I am an Amtrak and train fan. Have been for many years. Amtrak is not Amtrak's fault. It is ours for not using public transit more. It is the government not supporting it while still supporting train travel. We need to ditch the cars we drive when the train makes sense. We need to take a trip by train on a vacation.

We need to stop being selfish about our cars and let go. We say everyday we can't afford them anymore, but still go on and use them anyway. Me included.

Take the train when you can. It's fun. And the scenery is amazing on almost every route. I ride somewhere every year. I have an Amtrak CC that gives me points and I use them as well. a couple days on a train round trip and you are good to go. Especially in a room or bedroom.

As far as the iPhone... don't care whose tech they use, just as long as the experience for both conductor and passenger is positive. I'm all for it.
Suffice it to say that I'm extremely familiar with how government "businesses" operate, so I'm not as sympathetic as you. I agree with just about everything you've said, except "we need to stop being selfish about our cars and let go". The implication that car ownership is selfish is utterly repulsive to me. Sorry. It's great that the train is wonderful for folks like yourself, but the cold hard reality is that the train is utterly worthless for many, many more. Worthless at best.

I do love trains. I immigrated to this country with my family on a train. My wife comes from a beautiful part of the country where it's clear that trains are the lifeblood of the economy. Whenever I visit Balboa Park in San Diego I head straight to the Train museum. I acknowledge that many cities/states/countries have very robust, convenient, and necessary rail systems, but for many more economies, the business and politics of it is absolutely abysmal at best, and threatening at worst.
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Old May 8, 2012, 11:24 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by GSPice View Post
Suffice it to say that I'm extremely familiar with how government "businesses" operate, so I'm not as sympathetic as you. I agree with just about everything you've said, except "we need to stop being selfish about our cars and let go". The implication that car ownership is selfish is utterly repulsive to me. Sorry. It's great that the train is wonderful for folks like yourself, but the cold hard reality is that the train is utterly worthless for many, many more. Worthless at best.

I do love trains. I immigrated to this country with my family on a train. My wife comes from a beautiful part of the country where it's clear that trains are the lifeblood of the economy. Whenever I visit Balboa Park in San Diego I head straight to the Train museum. I acknowledge that many cities/states/countries have very robust, convenient, and necessary rail systems, but for many more economies, the business and politics of it is absolutely abysmal at best, and threatening at worst.
Thanks. I appreciate your reply. Maybe 'selfish' and 'repulsive' are a bit over the top. I agree with you, not many can or want to take advantage (or be duped/used by) a rail system, but i still feel like we could do better. I don't agree that many economies can't use a rail system. Just for freight alone it could be useful. Add a passenger consist and it may make money. But when government steps in and then regulates it, that's where it fails. And where we, whether rural or or not, should be more proactive. I really don't think everyone going to Philadelphia by car has any need whatsoever for that vehicle in the city. That to me is the 'selfish' part I refer to. Not so much ownership. Usage. More riders, more revenue, more money for new cars, expanded services... More government, less riders, more red tape, less revenue, less service upgrades, more service cutbacks.

I rambled again. It was about usage, not so much ownership. There is a time and place is my thought. It seems we need to choose the place better... or rather how we get to the place sometimes.
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Old May 8, 2012, 11:37 AM   #103
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What happens to all these companies after they are totally committed and then Apple does a Final Cut Pro on them?
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Old May 8, 2012, 11:58 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by macmikey2 View Post
Thanks. I appreciate your reply. Maybe 'selfish' and 'repulsive' are a bit over the top. I agree with you, not many can or want to take advantage (or be duped/used by) a rail system, but i still feel like we could do better. I don't agree that many economies can't use a rail system. Just for freight alone it could be useful. Add a passenger consist and it may make money. But when government steps in and then regulates it, that's where it fails. And where we, whether rural or or not, should be more proactive. I really don't think everyone going to Philadelphia by car has any need whatsoever for that vehicle in the city. That to me is the 'selfish' part I refer to. Not so much ownership. Usage. More riders, more revenue, more money for new cars, expanded services... More government, less riders, more red tape, less revenue, less service upgrades, more service cutbacks.

I rambled again. It was about usage, not so much ownership. There is a time and place is my thought. It seems we need to choose the place better... or rather how we get to the place sometimes.
Quote:
But when government steps in and then regulates it, that's where it fails
^ you sir, just made my day. And again, you're absolutely right. There's plenty of lost potential with rail for both transit and freight.

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What happens to all these companies after they are totally committed and then Apple does a Final Cut Pro on them?
Then those companies better realize that their 10-year old paradigm is wasting them a lot of time and money.
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Old May 8, 2012, 12:22 PM   #105
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...
Amtrak does have an iPhone app that allows riders to book tickets, check train status and schedules, and more. Amtrak eTickets can currently be purchased within the app for 4 routes, with the entire Amtrak system rolling out the ticketing scheme during 2012...
I guess the tickets are now 30% more expensive... So Apple can take their cut
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Old May 8, 2012, 12:29 PM   #106
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I guess the tickets are now 30% more expensive... So Apple can take their cut
I know you are just trolling but in any case Apple does not take a cut.
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Old May 8, 2012, 01:01 PM   #107
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Originally Posted by marmotte View Post
How can you compare the train system in the US to another outside the US? Everyone knows that the US train system is at least several decades behind in every aspect: technology, customer service, performance (e.g., the definition of "speed" train in the US), etc.

Obviously there are other better systems out there. They all are...

Example: the New York subway system has rolled out last year a system that tells you how far away the next train is. Such a system has existed in France (for example) since the 80s. So the MTA is about 30 years behind (a full generation....) another's developed country's subway system built by a heavily unionized workforce in a not so entrepreneurial country.

Imagine that.

And I could on and on (airports, highways, electrical grid, internet, etc...)
The problem with generalizations is that they give the wrong impression. US passenger rail is one of the worst int he world. US freight service is one of the best, though most consumers are unaware of this distribution channel.

The Economist had an article (July 22, 2010) on American railways. Here's some quotes:

" ... America’s railways are the mirror image of Europe’s. Europe has an impressive and growing network of high-speed passenger links, many of them international, like the Thalys service between Paris and Brussels or the Eurostar connecting London to the French and Belgian capitals. These are successful—although once the (off-balance-sheet) costs of building the tracks are counted, they need subsidies of billions of dollars a year. But, outside Germany and Switzerland, Europe’s freight rail services are a fragmented, lossmaking mess. Repeated attempts to remove the technical and bureaucratic hurdles at national frontiers have come to nothing.

Amtrak’s passenger services are sparse compared with Europe’s. But America’s freight railways are one of the unsung transport successes of the past 30 years. They are universally recognised in the industry as the best in the world.

Their good run started with deregulation at the end of Jimmy Carter’s administration. Two years after the liberalisation of aviation gave rise to budget carriers and cheap fares, the freeing of rail freight, under the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, started a wave of consolidation and improvement. Staggers gave railways freedom to charge market rates, enter confidential contracts with shippers and run trains as they liked. They could close passenger and branch lines, as long as they preserved access for Amtrak services. They were allowed to sell lossmaking lines to new short-haul railroads. Regulation of freight rates by the Interstate Commerce Commission was removed for most cargoes, provided they could go by road.
...
Giving the railroads the freedom to run their business as they saw fit led to dramatic improvements. The first result was a sharp rise in traffic and productivity and fall in freight costs. Since 1981 productivity has risen by 172%, after years of stagnation. Adjusted for inflation, rates are down by 55% since 1981 (see chart 1). Rail’s share of the freight market, measured in ton-miles, has risen steadily to 43%—about the highest in any rich country.
...
The trouble for the freight railways is that almost all the planned new fast intercity services will run on their tracks. Combining slow freight and fast passenger trains is complicated. With some exceptions on Amtrak’s Acela and North East corridor tracks, level crossings are attuned to limits of 50mph for freight and 80mph for passenger trains. But Mr Obama’s plan boils down to running intercity passenger trains at 110mph on freight tracks. Add the fact that freight trains do not stick to a regular timetable, but run variable services at short notice to meet demand, and the scope for congestion grows."
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Old May 8, 2012, 02:11 PM   #108
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The iPhones are a step to eTicketing. It is a really good step for Amtrak. They do need phones, not just iPods, they will be able to look up reservation information, and see who is on the train at any time. They basically want everyone accounted for on the train in case of emergency as well. I think it is a very good idea, they are running into some problems, but thats normal for this type of transition. Thats why they are slowly rolling it out, not all at once. Some conductors like it, some don't. I talk to them daily. Its mostly the older ones that don't like it. Right now they carry credit card machines, punches, ticket books for manual tickets, and some other things. The iPhone is supposed to eliminate most of that.

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Originally Posted by adildacoolset View Post
My internet connection goes to speeds up to 0.013KB/s (13 bytes/s). In my standards, 10KB/s is actually quite good and 60KB/s is remarkable.
Your talking about a basic AT&T cell tower connection on a moving train that isn't always in the best of locations for reception. The few times I used it on the Keystone line it was not that bad.
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Old May 8, 2012, 03:06 PM   #109
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Err, the innovation here is that Amtrak are doing it with off-the-shelf iPhone hardware - not custom devices designed specifically for the rail industry.

Amtrak is a pretty small operation compared with DB and some of the other European rail operators, so they don't enjoy the same economies of scale when it comes to rolling out new tech. They're probably saving a LOT of money by using iPhones.
I completely agree it's ludicrous to sell this story as innovation. For example, the Swiss Railway company (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) have been offering e-tickets on iPhones for 3 years. Conductor carry custom-made devices able to scan paper tickets or e-tickets on any smartphones. Some people seem to have no clue what's going on beyond US borders.
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Old May 8, 2012, 04:09 PM   #110
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TfL is a metro network. Amtrak is a regional and intercity rail operator. Not really a fair comparison for many reasons.

Oyster is indeed fantastic - in London. However, if you want to buy an intercity or regional train ticket to a destination outside of London you are pretty much stuck with old fashioned paper tickets that have to be printed at the station before your can travel.

So in the UK, for the most part, we are actually behind Amtrak when it comes to ticketing technology!

A few operators do offer print-at-home eTickets, but these are limited to certain routes. The vast majority of tickets sold are the old fashioned paper kind.

The UK government has been trying to push a national smart card standard called ITSO for several years now, but train operators have been slow and reluctant to roll it out. Part of the reason for that is that it might make more sense to just go directly to accepting RFID debit/credit cards, as TfL plans to do, rather than adopt ITSO.
Actually, it's fairly simple to have Oyster accept the ITSO Standard and funding has been allocated to make this happen before the end of 2012. The readers already support the RFID tech you speak of in phones/credit cards as it's the same standard as is in the Oyster. There have already been successful trials for the acceptance of NFC-equipped phones and it's merely a question of flipping a switch.

Many Overground trains in and around London & the South East have been accepting Oyster for a few years now. The whole of South West trains accepts an ITSO Certified E-Card and I have seen equipment being installed in a few major interchange stations up & down the country. The main problem is pricing and ticketing within a PAYG system, with many train operators reluctant to enter into a unified cross-nation platform that is easy for the customer to understand (they make enough money now by bamboozling customers with about a million different possible ticket combinations, Off-Peak Advance, Peak Advance, Standard, blah blah blah). It'll happen though...and it'll happen soon.

Certainly we're much further along the road than Amtrak, it's just like many things in the UK...the South came first.
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Old May 8, 2012, 04:12 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by macmikey2 View Post
I agree with this but it is not Amtrak's fault. They are not a corporation per se, but a supported, fend for yourself, government business. They try to make the dollars work each year, but it is accidents, breakdowns, and old equipment (goes way back to the 70's in some cases) that causes this. And why? Because the gov wants to keep slashing its support while at the same time touting its advantages.

I am an Amtrak and train fan. Have been for many years. Amtrak is not Amtrak's fault. It is ours for not using public transit more. It is the government not supporting it while still supporting train travel. We need to ditch the cars we drive when the train makes sense. We need to take a trip by train on a vacation.

We need to stop being selfish about our cars and let go. We say everyday we can't afford them anymore, but still go on and use them anyway. Me included.

Take the train when you can. It's fun. And the scenery is amazing on almost every route. I ride somewhere every year. I have an Amtrak CC that gives me points and I use them as well. a couple days on a train round trip and you are good to go. Especially in a room or bedroom.

As far as the iPhone... don't care whose tech they use, just as long as the experience for both conductor and passenger is positive. I'm all for it.
When trains go everywhere cars can go, when they put train stations at every city, town, village in the US, even then I won't give up my car you idiot! Wow. I should give up my car to support Amtrack? Really? Go back in your mama's basement, I think your tricycle is getting dusty.
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Old May 8, 2012, 04:42 PM   #112
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When trains go everywhere cars can go, when they put train stations at every city, town, village in the US, even then I won't give up my car you idiot! Wow. I should give up my car to support Amtrack? Really? Go back in your mama's basement, I think your tricycle is getting dusty.
Ahhh, I knew one would be along eventually. What happened? you get part-way through the thread and hit your capacity for reading and comprehension? I explained, later on, that I was referring to the usage, not ownership. I, like you, would never give up my truck/car for a train for all my uses. Even if there were, as you say, a station at every corner.

And idiot? Go back to mama? Not an idiot sir and my mama is dead. Thanks for dragging down the IQ here and bringing back my moms memory in a bad way.

Sheesh.
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Old May 9, 2012, 02:34 AM   #113
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No. they will use the built-in corporate managing software apple provides and use over the air updates.

I don't even use my Mac for my iPad/iPhone anymore. No need.
OK I didn't know that, in this case I retire my criticism.
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Old May 9, 2012, 04:51 AM   #114
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OK I didn't know that, in this case I retire my criticism.
It's all good. We learn everyday and no one knows everything. Especially me.
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Old May 9, 2012, 12:55 PM   #115
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"Apple sucks because iOS 2.0 sucked" is a bit silly IMO... :P

As an app dev it's most likely not that you couldn't make this app run on earlier versions, it's that it's a pain in the behind, and there's no need for it. Even if it's just one new API call, and a workaround would cost maybe 8 hours of work - why do it if you don't need to?
Why are you writing that as if its my words? I never said anything even close to "Apple sucks because iOS 2.0 sucks".

As for doing the work-around, if it only costs one person 8 hours of time so that you can reach another 5% of customers, you'd be stupid not to do it.

May I remind you that first-generation iPod touches and iPhones are stuck on iOS 3.1.3 (not iOS 2 as you seem to suggest).

Either take iOS 3.1.3 into account or be prepared to lose at least a few percentage of potential market. That, or write us all a check so we can upgrade our devices.

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Originally Posted by JHankwitz View Post
Why would they purchase 1,700 iPhones with iOS 3 installed? Also, they would need an OS able to handle the attached scanner. I don't think they planned to incorporate such a feature way back at iOS 3.
I'm NOT talking about the software used by Amtrak I'm talking about the software that REGULAR USERS can download. Reading comprehension is really going down on this website, I've had nearly ten comments that misses my point in the last two days.
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Old May 9, 2012, 01:54 PM   #116
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...
I'm NOT talking about the software used by Amtrak I'm talking about the software that REGULAR USERS can download. Reading comprehension is really going down on this website, I've had nearly ten comments that misses my point in the last two days.
Have to agree. It seems some folks are already typing a reply before even finishing the post. Or even the entire thread.
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:38 PM   #117
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This is a bit curious to me... Being a conductor myself for Cp Rail, as far as i know. It's illegal for conductors/engineers and other running trades employees too even have a cell phone on them in the Rail industry

This was because of the tragic crash in 2008 in the state that killed all those passengers when the crew was too busy texting and went through a red board. The law first came into effect in the U.S and was adopted by Transport Canada shortly afterwards.

So these phones must be very limited for their use.
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Old May 11, 2012, 03:37 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by UnLiMiTeD558 View Post
This is a bit curious to me... Being a conductor myself for Cp Rail, as far as i know. It's illegal for conductors/engineers and other running trades employees too even have a cell phone on them in the Rail industry

This was because of the tragic crash in 2008 in the state that killed all those passengers when the crew was too busy texting and went through a red board. The law first came into effect in the U.S and was adopted by Transport Canada shortly afterwards.

So these phones must be very limited for their use.
I had forgotten about that. It is a curious thought. It also brings back why not iPod then. I wonder if they had to get approval and could get approval because they are a gov business and not commercial per se like trucking.

Hmmmm. This makes me think about it more now.
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Old May 11, 2012, 08:08 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by UnLiMiTeD558 View Post
This is a bit curious to me... Being a conductor myself for Cp Rail, as far as i know. It's illegal for conductors/engineers and other running trades employees too even have a cell phone on them in the Rail industry

This was because of the tragic crash in 2008 in the state that killed all those passengers when the crew was too busy texting and went through a red board. The law first came into effect in the U.S and was adopted by Transport Canada shortly afterwards.

So these phones must be very limited for their use.
Personal cell phones are not allowed in the US to be used. Except in an emergency. Crew members can have them with them but they have to be turned off and put away.

Cell phones for business use, issued by the company are allowed. The ticket lifting device is not used as a cell phone, at this time anyway, it is prohibited, but Amtrak conductors are issued a cell phone.

Last edited by charles4515; May 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM.
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Old May 11, 2012, 08:10 PM   #120
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I had forgotten about that. It is a curious thought. It also brings back why not iPod then. I wonder if they had to get approval and could get approval because they are a gov business and not commercial per se like trucking.

Hmmmm. This makes me think about it more now.
Of course the eticket device had to be approved by the FRA, (Federal Railroad Administration).
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Old May 11, 2012, 08:14 PM   #121
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They should do this in Japan as well for iPhone/iPod/iPad users.

We always have to buy tickets at the station or buy a prepaid card that you can recharge in order to get on the train.

But with many people using iOS devices now in Japan, this should be a opportunity to change or make the system a lot easier.
Ticket lines are so long on rush hours...
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Old May 11, 2012, 08:20 PM   #122
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They should do this in Japan as well for iPhone/iPod/iPad users.

We always have to buy tickets at the station or buy a prepaid card that you can recharge in order to get on the train.

But with many people using iOS devices now in Japan, this should be a opportunity to change or make the system a lot easier.
Ticket lines are so long on rush hours...
The Amtrak eticketing won't be limited to iOS users. All will be able to avoid the ticket lines although even now before etickets you can take a scan to a kiosks and get tickets issued.
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Old May 15, 2012, 12:58 PM   #123
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Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) has online tickets with 3D barcode since May 2000 (!). They are using a device from Siemens that can print also tickets nationwide while you are in the train.

Ridiculous how they want to make you believe that this is an innovation.
The Germans have MONEY and aren't in a recession. It's true though, if we modeled our rail system off of the Deutsche Bahn we'd all be better off!
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