Ticket Taking Process #1
Sunset Limited – Boarding the Sunset Limited in Los Angeles Union Station the car attendants looked at the tickets at the door, but didn’t take them. One aboard and in our roomettes the attendant then came and took the tickets. I pulled the receipt part of the ticket since I usually always do so to expedite the archaic ticket taking practice that Amtrak follows still. The attendant in Los Angeles also assigned the room that was not specified on the ticket.
In Maricopa the attendant that was changing out with the crew came around and took everyone’s tickets, and handed us our receipts. In both of these situations nobody clipped or otherwise marked the tickets so that they would show as being used. The time, train, and origination and destination where specific and technically, the ticket is either used or not. Again, the attendant did not put us in the room that was on the ticket. This time we did receive a reason why we were being given another roomette instead of the assigned one.
Ticket Taking Process #2
Coast Starlight – Boarding in Portland we enter the First Class Lounge which is basically a waiting room with nicer amenities. The lounge attendant took our tickets, handing us the receipts. Again, no other marks or specific directions. He gave us a room and car assignment in station. When we boarded, we got another room assignment than the ticket. This boarding had us go through a total of 2 assignments, before we finally got our actual assignment. It isn’t really a big deal, it is just ridiculously stupid to need that much busy work for the process. In reality we shouldn’t even need but ONE room assignment and we don’t need anyone to help us get into or out of the room.
Ticket Taking Process #3
Pacific Surfliner – Boarding in Santa Ana to come north into Los Angeles. The tickets are unreserved and completely unorganized. There is no actual seating, you just get on and fumble until you find a seat. The conductor then comes through the train at some point, takes the tickets (and don’t you dare take the receipts off ahead of time) and clips the tickets and the receipts. The conductor requested, after I had removed the receipts, that she clip the receipts and that the tickets wouldn’t be valid without the receipts. It seems beyond stupid to sell unreserved tickets on a train that has reserved seating – at least, that’s what the cars are designed for. Again, a complete failure for Amtrak to once again be logical. I do understand that the tickets are not for a particular train, but they are for a particular day, and if I just handed them to her they should NOT BE available to any other customers. This flow of process is again, stupid. It doesn’t follow a smooth, coherent, or streamlined process at all. In many ways, several of the steps are even redundant.
Pacific Surfliner – Boarding again in Santa Ana to come north, a few days before the above mentioned trip. I removed the receipts from the tickets in front of the conductor. He clipped the tickets, did NOT ask or take the receipts to clip, and carried on. Why this is different than the seating before?
The Historical Facts
So really, what is the deal. This little annoyances don’t really detract from the trip, they just add a bit of confusion to the adventure itself. For some people, it is reason to be turned away and not try to take the train. For some people it really ticks them off, since the processes are dissimilar between trains run by the same Government Corporation, Amtrak. The illogical breaks in the process sow these seeds of frustration and absolutely need fixed. So Amtrak Execs, get your acts together and get this done. The disparities are absolutely unnecessary and are wasting Amtrak’s/Taxpayers’ Monies. One might think these little things don’t add much cost, but they easily add up to thousands upon thousands of dollars of wasted USEFUL employee time.
Amtrak, when it formed, was supposed to fix many of this frustrations, and as is apparent, has barely updated its trains let alone many of its other processes. I do commend Amtrak on the online ticketing, but still, they have a major labor force that consists of doing unnecessary menial labor and could be utilized doing things that are vastly more important than running what, appears to be, dysfunctional passenger trains.
Overall everyone of our trains was ok, some where great, and some where rather exceptional. So far, my ratings for the various trains I’ve been on in the last 4 years. I put an * by the ones that where used recently on the PHX/LAX trip.
|Coast Starlight *||* * * *||4 stars, a few negative points for timeliness.|
|Empire Builder||* * * * *||5 stars, no actual negatives.|
|Cascades||* * * *||4 stars, timeliness issues.|
|Acela||* * * *||4 stars, the seating is stupid, and basically unreserved even though the train is all “first class”.|
|Metroliner||* * * *||4 stars, seating similar to Acela. Seats are much smaller.|
|Sunset Limited *||*||1 star. Train was uncoordinated, crew was a mess, riders are usually half bum/redneck. Rough train.|
|Pacific Surfliner *||* * * *||Same dumb unreserved scrambled herd seating nonsense.|
|Lakeshore Limited||*||Train was broke, toilets not working on multiple cars, timeliness issues, attendants had a bit much attitude.|
Anyone else got any Amtrak stories? I hate to give em’ gruff all the time, but really, these things should have much smoother and simplified process around them. The complexities that the archaic ticketing and seating processes currently used are completely, without doubt, unacceptable and should be resolved ASAP.