Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Amtrak responds to weekend’s (Aug 25) ticketing meltdown"

The Amtrak ticketing system, called ARROW, behaved badly this past weekend and Cox Newspapers have some stories on this:

The article on by Rafi Guroian notes:

"Amtrak says for ARROW to go down the entire nation was unprecedented. In cases where ARROW goes down at individual stations, the practice in the past has been for station ticket agents to call other stations to assist in looking up reservations. Because every terminal in the country was down, it appears that some station agents may have become confused as to what the standard operating procedure should be.

Amtrak says that the correct procedure, which was observed in New York Penn Station among other locations, was to permit passengers with pre-paid reservation computer printouts to board trains; Amtrak conductors collected those printouts, using them as tickets. Other locations, however, like Amtrak’s Baltimore-Washington International Airport station, were reportedly instructing customers with existing pre-paid reservation printouts to purchase duplicate, hand-written tickets at full price from onboard train conductors; station personnel reportedly promised passengers that the older reservation would be refunded if the passenger phoned in a request when ARROW came back online.

This sounds like a major failure but computer systems go down all the time, as long as they don't happen every month. The trains still ran however and this happened on the weekend fortuneately for Amtrak commuters. I believe if you had a montly or a 10 trip smart pass ticket you would have had no problems getting on the trains.


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