Amtrak Conductors Adopting iPhones to Verify Tickets

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 7, 2012.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001


    The number of industries that Apple is disrupting with the iPhone and iPad is growing by the day. Amtrak, the government-owned American passenger railroad company, has adopted the iPhone as a ticket scanner for its 1,700 conductors, reports the New York Times.

    The phones will be in a case equipped with a barcode scanner, similar to the Linea Pro cases that Apple uses at its retail stores. The phones will scan barcodes on paper tickets, as well as digital barcodes on smartphones. The MBTA commuter rail in Boston is adopting a similar system for smartphone ticketing.
    The Times notes that Amtrak's ticketing system is long overdue for an upgrade. The prior ticketing process involved punching a hole in a paper ticket and physically transporting those tickets to a central location where the information was entered in a database. Among other things, conductors couldn't keep track of how many empty seats were on a train and customers needed to get their paper tickets cancelled and reissued if they wanted to change to a different train.

    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.

    Amtrak for iPhone is available free on the App Store. [Direct Link]

    Article Link: Amtrak Conductors Adopting iPhones to Verify Tickets
  2. Yvan256 macrumors 601

    Jul 5, 2004
    The fact that such a simple App requires iOS 4.0 or later is a fail in my book.

    We're not talking about a game with a 3D engine or social networking requirements here.
  3. camomac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2005
    Left Coast
    interesting. as somebody that has spent a lot of time on the amtrak, but i wonder why they don't just use the ipad? too big i guess.
  4. d0vr macrumors 6502a

    Feb 24, 2011
    I wonder if an NFC enabled iPhone will be able to check Smart Card tickets.... I sure hope that iPhones will be able to work as Smart Cards, especially for TransPerth!
  5. Delighted macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2012
  6. scott911 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2009
  7. Pyrrhic Victory macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2012
    I think "disrupting" is the wrong word and unfair to Apple. They are not causing a disruption, the industries are using Apple's products by their own free choice. I think "pervading" is a better, more neutral word to describe what is happening.
  8. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020


    Feb 16, 2012
  9. ixodes macrumors 601


    Jan 11, 2012
    Pacific Coast, USA
    Apple here, Apple there, Apple Devices Everywhere ...

    Can you say *monopoly* ?

    (Before the haters freak out, just joking) :)
  10. rei101 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
  11. guzhogi macrumors 68030


    Aug 31, 2003
    Wherever my feet take me…
    While I don't ride Amtrak, I'm all for anything that makes the whole process easier & better.
  12. bananas macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2007
    Why iPhone

    Why not iPod Touch? Do they really need the cellular connectivity?
  13. nastebu macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2008
    The front end is pretty simple, but the back end is probably not. It has to work with the Amtrak computer network after all, which is more than just a shopping cart, right? Isn't this thing designed to "keep track of passengers on board"?
  14. ubersoldat, May 7, 2012
    Last edited: May 7, 2012

    ubersoldat macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2010
    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.
  15. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    Perhaps the conductor's app will do more? Alerts about track conditions, delays, scheduling help, etc.
  16. mobi macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2004
    Penn's Woods
    Good to see a dinosaur like Amtrak step into the 21st century...
  17. FSMBP macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    How do you figure? Every iOS device released from within 4 years onwards supports this: iPhone 3G, 3GS 4, and 4S.

    Also, there are security features/enhancements in every version of iOS. Perhaps iOS 4 provides the bare minimum for Amtrak.
  18. FrizzleFryBen macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I could see them being verbal communication devices as well. HA! All I did there was define what a phone is.
  19. ScottYelich macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2008
    Amtrak WIFI?

    Ever tries Amtrak WIFI?

    0.00 Mb down and 0.01 Mb up.

    ok, ok, it's not ALWAYS that bad. Sometimes you get almost
    10KB down. :-/

    Still can't tether on my new LTE ipad or my AT&T iphone.


    ps: I've seen one of the iphone things being tested/use -- the
    conductor didn't seem to like it, but perhaps it was just something
    new and he wasn't use to it (or it wasn't working well).
  20. GSPice macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2008
    The iPhone can do many things, but it cannot save Amtrak.
  21. Konrad9 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2012
    Size (needs a special holster which costs money, doesn't fit in pocket, would need a special storage bin when not in use)
    Battery life (an iPhone without the cell antenna turned on lasts forever)
    Awkward as hell to use for what they are doing

    You really couldn't think of any reasons?
  22. rutledjw macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2011
    I believe they got discounts on the iPhone and it's easier to make the iPhone shock-resistant. Finally, they REALLY want to reduce the cr@p they make conductors carry


    They still use the network. Each time a bar code is scanned, it verifies it with the res system. It'll queue for the times not within a cell or network link, but it tries to verify each scan
  23. rnizlek macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Why does Amtrak need saving? From what?

    If you're talking about the fact that Amtrak accepts a subsidy:

    We subsidize federal highways to the tune of $40-$50 billion per year.
    We subsidize aviation to the tune of around $10 billion per year.
    We subsidize Amtrak around $1.5 billion per year.

    The reality is that every form of transportation in this country is subsidized. There's a reason that you don't pay a toll when you pull a car out of your driveway - you are driving on subsidized infrastructure.

    Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is open to debate (and this isn't a political forum so I'm not going to go there), but we need to compare apples to apples. Greyhound couldn't generate a profit if it had to build the highways they run on or airlines wouldn't be in business if they had to build airports. But that's the standard people hold Amtrak to.

    You'd never understand that, though, listening to a lot of pundits on TV. (If you want a good, informative read, try Anthony Pearl's New Departures: Rethinking passenger rail policy for the 21st century).
  24. ziggyonice macrumors 68020


    Mar 12, 2006
    Rural America
    Slow news day, MR?

    This belongs on the iOS blog. Just sayin'. :)
  25. camomac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2005
    Left Coast
    well, thanks for the helpful post, really cleared that up. good work.

Share This Page