Becoming a ticket agent

General discussion about working in the railroad industry. Industry employers are welcome to post openings here.

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Becoming a ticket agent

Postby rgeberer » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:58 am

Hi! I'm a recently retired (as a local NYC journalist, actually working part-time) guy who is a lifelong railfan. I've recently dealth with ticket agents on the MetroNorth and Shore Line (on a trip to Ct.) systems, and it occurs to me that since I'm an older guy who would like to work for a few more years to get some much-needed extra money, being an RR window ticket agent (in my neck of the woods, either MetroNorth, LIRR or possibly Amtrak at Penn Station) would be a nice, pleasurable, low-pressure job to have for a few years, either part-time or full time. Any comments, suggestions?--RG
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Re: Becoming a ticket agent

Postby Gadfly » Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:37 pm

rgeberer wrote:Hi! I'm a recently retired (as a local NYC journalist, actually working part-time) guy who is a lifelong railfan. I've recently dealth with ticket agents on the MetroNorth and Shore Line (on a trip to Ct.) systems, and it occurs to me that since I'm an older guy who would like to work for a few more years to get some much-needed extra money, being an RR window ticket agent (in my neck of the woods, either MetroNorth, LIRR or possibly Amtrak at Penn Station) would be a nice, pleasurable, low-pressure job to have for a few years, either part-time or full time. Any comments, suggestions?--RG


Low pressure? Sorry, but any railroad job is full of pressure. I see so many people who retire/change careers based on the one criteria: "I am a huge rail fan". Most of this is based on the premise that railroading is this wonderful, fairy-tale existence found in rail fan magazines and the painting of the work as a romantic adventure. What it actually IS, is a gritty, life-disrupting work that splits families, keeps workers away from their children's most important achievements, and ages its people prematurely

I can't speak for Metro North or Shore Line or Amtrak, but I did this in the heyday of the company passenger trains. We did it as Extra Board Clerks who were called off the 'board to work the job or sub for vacations. One did not become a ticket agent right off the bat, nor did he/she slide right into a 8-5 job. These jobs were "bid" for on the basis of seniority. So if there was a 1st trick ticket agent who worked----say-------8AM to 4PM, that person was a high-seniority clerk who had worked for years at various clerical assignments and was finally, after YEARS on the job, able to bid the job of ticket agent and hold it. Others then, based on [i]their[i] seniority might bid in the 2nd trick ticket agent, and so on. I never held enough seniority to hold a daylight job of any kind while I was a Line of Road clerk; there were too many people ahead of me.

Now I cannot say how it is now; things have changed tremendously since I was out there on the Line. But the likelihood of you waltzing into this romantic, ideal of an easy, neat, 8 AM to 5 PM job with weekends off is remote at best. I know of no "part-time" jobs on railroads: they are full-time positions. The railroad culture is harsh, steeped in military tradition and paternalistic control. It is NOT "fun"; it is difficult, the hours long, the work tiring. IMHO, it is something for most people to retire FROM. not TO. It is not some sort of fun "game". Railroads are very critical and LOOK for ways to get rid of those who violate rules, or do not perform the work properly. In many cases, there is NO tolerance and discipline may be applied unevenly. It is also why there IS a union.

Maybe it is for you, but look carefully as to why you want this. Is it really something you want to do, or is it driven by the rail buff in you? If it is the rail buff, RUN. Don't do it! LIkely, you will fail in this quest, or be VERY disappointed when you find out that railroading is NOT the romantic little game you thought it was! Whatever you decide, good luck!

From one who knows...

Gadfly
retired from Norfolk Southern
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