November 4, 2011

Amtrak pilots e-ticketing on Downeaster service

Amtrak is starting a pilot test of its eTicketing system on the Downeaster service, which operates daily between Boston and Portland, Maine.

The eTicketing program provides passengers with increased flexibility when making or changing reservations and eliminates the need to obtain traditional paper tickets. Amtrak intends to roll out eTicketing to all its trains nationwide during 2012.

With eTicketing, passengers have the ability to print their reservations from the comfort of their home or office. A receipt will be e-mailed to the customer with the eTicket attached as a printable PDF document which can be printed any time prior to travel.

Passengers also will be able to use their smart phones to present their eTickets to the conductor by simply opening the eTicket PDF document from their email on their smart phone and displaying the barcode for the conductor to scan.

If a customer misplaces their eTicket, they can re-print the document for presentation on board. Passengers may also print their eTickets at Amtrak ticket offices and Quik-Trak kiosks.

During the pilot test, eTickets will be issued to passengers who have one way or round trip reservations. Passengers with more complicated bookings will continue to receive traditional paper value tickets, including when they:

• Are traveling beyond the Downeaster route;

• have purchased a Multi-Ride Ticket; (e.g., monthly or ten-trip ticket)

• have a group ticket;

• are paying travel on the train; or

• have purchased travel at a travel agency or corporate travel office.

Amtrak Downeaster eTicketing customers will now be able to make changes to their reservations online until the start of their journey. During 2012, Amtrak will look to provide greater flexibility to its online customers with respect to modifying reservations once a trip is under way.

Amtrak operates the Downeaster under contract with the State of Maine’s Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. Ridership on the Amtrak Downeaster line increased dramatically this past year, exceeding the 500,000 passenger mark for the first time, with overall ridership more than doubling since 2005.

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 the significant value provided to passengers and conductors.

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