Amtrak is rolling out its new eTicket program, which will let passengers board trains nationwide without a paper ticket.
Until now, the only way to ride the rails was with a paper ticket that you had to hand to the conductor. Though you could look up schedules and make reservations online, that often meant wasting precious moments standing in line at a ticket window, or Quik-Trak kiosk. Not great for your blood pressure if you're minutes away from missing your train.
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"eTickets deliver the convenience and flexibility expected by passengers and its innovative technology is transforming other aspects of how Amtrak does business," President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement.
You can book and pay for your e-ticket online, on a mobile device, or by using the new Amtrak iPhone app. Once purchased, you'll get an email with the ticket attached as a PDF. Smartphone users can simply show that e-ticket to the conductor, who can then scan it.
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If you don't have a smartphone, you can print the ticket at home or at a kiosk in the station.
Aside from the obvious benefit of saving passengers time and not wasting paper, if an e-ticket is lost or misplaced, it can easily be reprinted.
Amtrak had run a pilot program on five routes before Monday's nationwide digital upgrade. Amtrak says it "quickly exceeded expectations as rapid adoption by passengers resulted in shorter lines at ticket counters, less tickets sold onboard trains and fewer claims of lost tickets."
Amtrak is not alone in turning to e-tickets. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York has begun testing smartphone-based ticketing for the Metro-North Railroad. The use of QR codes to scan tickets is already in use in several European countries such as Italy, Germany and France.
Will you use an e-ticket to travel on Amtrak? Are you comfortable not holding a paper ticket in your hand? Let us know in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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