Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Not Efficient

My plan for Wednesday is to take the train from Fremont to Sacramento, where Lisa (who is coming down from Oregon starting Tuesday) will collect me and we will go to a hotel and then visit my mother and grandfather in Sutter on Thanksgiving Day. Because I get a 10% National Association of Railroad Passengers discount for purchasing 3 days or more in advance (even for "Black Wednesday," the purported busiest travel day of the year), I bought a ticket online a few days ago. Then I tried to go collect it from the ticket vending machine in the Fremont/Centerville Station. It was out of service, and remained so through the end of they day yesterday. I couldn't wait any longer. On the way to the BASFA meeting tonight, I swung farther south and went to the San Jose Diridon station, where the Quik-Track machines were working (although they wouldn't read the bar codes on my reservation document) and where I could have got a ticket from an agent if that didn't work. But driving clear down to San Jose to collect my train ticket is stupid. Had I known in advance that the TVM was out of order, I probably would have skipped the advance-purchase discount and bought on the train, hasslesome as that is.

What Amtrak really needs here is the ability to issues tickets completely electronically, or for the conductors' new hand-held units to be able to scan the bar-codes on the reservations and treat it as a paper ticket. But I don't see that happening soon, if only because it would take more investment, which requires more money, and the government priorities are set on wasting money on buddy contracts for hugely expensive porno-scanners that don't even really accomplish anything useful in the way of securing travel. This is known as "homeland security," and apparently it's nearly treasonous to even think of questioning any of it. But investing money in our train system is a horrible wasteful subsidy that much be stopped right away. Sigh.

Still, as a railroad enthusiast, I guess I should be happy at the Department of Homeland Security Theatre of the Absurd, in that they're making airline travel progressively more and more unpleasant and thus encouraging more people to take the train. That will be good until they decide that they need to start groping train passengers as well as airline travelers, for whatever specious reason they invent at the time that rings changes on, "Just cooperate, citizen, so you can Stay Safe."
Tags: amtrak, travel

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