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  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by lordsigma12345
 
gokeefe wrote: Tue Aug 10, 2021 7:02 pm The station agent requirement means every station with more than 14,600 passengers per year will get an agent. That is an *enormous* number of new agents to be hired. Likely in the hundreds.

Here's is a preliminary sample from Indiana:

1. South Bend (SOB)
2. Elkhart (EKH)
3. Waterloo (WTI)

I can't even begin to imagine how long it has been since South Bend was a staffed station ... WOW.

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I believe it only applies to Long Distance and NEC service line stations and only if the station has a building. If the station has a commuter rail agency employee that can sell Amtrak tickets that also counts. At stations providing only state supported service that’s between Amtrak and said state. Still - will probably result in them having to staff some stations that haven’t had them in a while.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Wed Aug 11, 2021 12:45 am If the station has a commuter rail agency employee that can sell Amtrak tickets that also counts.
NJT station agents sell Amtrak at Princeton Jct., New Brunswick and Metropark. SEPTA does not at Cornwells
Heights and Ardmore, neither does MNCR on the Hudson and New Haven lines.

Metrolink ticket machines in Southern California do sell Amtrak fares, the inverse is the case on MARC, as NRPC is
a selling agent for MARC (station agents and at QuikTrak).
  by mcgrath618
 
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Wed Aug 11, 2021 1:12 am
lordsigma12345 wrote: Wed Aug 11, 2021 12:45 am If the station has a commuter rail agency employee that can sell Amtrak tickets that also counts.
NJT station agents sell Amtrak at Princeton Jct., New Brunswick and Metropark. SEPTA does not at Cornwells
Heights and Ardmore, neither does MNCR on the Hudson and New Haven lines.

Metrolink ticket machines in Southern California do sell Amtrak fares, the inverse is the case on MARC, as NRPC is
a selling agent for MARC (station agents and at QuikTrak).
I’m not sure about Cownwells Heights, but I am fairly certain that I’ve bought Amtrak tickets at Ardmore before.
  by STrRedWolf
 
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Wed Aug 11, 2021 1:12 am Metrolink ticket machines in Southern California do sell Amtrak fares, the inverse is the case on MARC, as NRPC is
a selling agent for MARC (station agents and at QuikTrak).
Negative for MARC. MARC is exclusively on MARC TVMs as of 2019 and Amtrak ticket agents no longer sell them on Amtrak stock. If you need a ticket agent, you need to go to Odenton, Silver Spring, or Fredrickberg, which are NOT Amtrak stations.
  by MACTRAXX
 
MCG: Yes-Ardmore has an Amtrak QT ticket machine inside the station building near the SEPTA ticket window.
The problem there is if the building is closed the machine is not accessible for Amtrak ticket sales...MACTRAXX
  by eolesen
 
Stuff like this is pure pork. Almost everyone who travels carries a smartphone, so why are we still mandating 1850's technology and paper tickets?...

Worst case, couldn't a conductor sell a mobile ticket for those rare chances where someone didn't buy in advance and doesn't have a smartphone?

I know Metra and other agencies have been closing ticket offices as existing agents retire. Time to rip off the bandaid and enter the 21st century.
  by lordsigma12345
 
I have to disagree that this is about paper tickets. Station agents are not just about selling tickets they are about answering questions and assisting passengers. Certain services are unavailable with an unstaffed station. Certainly you don't need the amount of people you used to but I think having a body in medium to large stations is simple customer service. Even Brightline has people in their stations. Amtrak brought this on themselves by cutting a couple of stations they should not have with zero communication with local stakeholders (along with other station cuts that were probably a bit more legitimate.) If they hadn't cut Cincinnati the way they did and then refused to work with city stakeholders when the city offered to pay Amtrak a fee to keep the station staffed then none of this would have probably occurred. I think ultimately what this is about is a desire for Amtrak to engage with local stakeholders when it comes to things like station staffing. I'm not sure I would have put this minimum number in place as it could result in some stations that really don't need staffing and hadn't had it for years to have to get an agent, I think they should have just put requirement that Amtrak work with local stakeholders in that kind of decision making and be open to cities helping out if they really want to have their station staffed.

I personally don't see empty stations with no one available to ask any questions or to keep an eye on things progress. Does this mean we need a body at every platform/shelter station? Nope but medium/large sized stations should have at least one person.
  by photobug56
 
Paper tickets are still important; many Amtrak passengers, especially long distance, need paper. If they have cell phones, they may be non-smart phones in many cases. Plus even someone like me, who first used a computer in the early 1970's, may not trust apps with their tickets. I'm not inclined to, personally.
  by electricron
 
lordsigma12345 wrote: Wed Aug 11, 2021 10:12 pm I personally don't see empty stations with no one available to ask any questions or to keep an eye on things progress. Does this mean we need a body at every platform/shelter station? Nope but medium/large sized stations should have at least one person.
Who replaces that one person manning the station when they take the day off? The boss!
What boss? You're going to need two people at every station just to have one available when one takes the day off.
How much do you think both get paid? Minimum wage? Ha!
$40,000 /year
https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Amtrak/salar ... ntative/US
What is the average Amtrak fare? $69 per coach seat.
https://www.bts.gov/content/average-amt ... rip-length

How many $69 fares will it take to pay the sales representative base salary?
580
Math follows, $40,000 / $69 = 579.7

Then you have to add the costs maintaining the station, powering the station, associated costs of providing equipment for the employee, etc. Do not know where you could find data for that.
  by eolesen
 
In many cases you only need an agent for an hour a day per train. Problem is finding someone willing to stick around when the trains are several hours late.

Or... you put up an info screen showing the arrival time and a 1-800 number for questions....

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  by NY&LB
 
How many $69 fares will it take to pay the sales representative base salary?
580
Math follows, $40,000 / $69 = 579.7
That is only BASE SALARY, the true cost to the employer (i.e. AMTRAK) is the LOADED salary, close to double that!

That's over 1,000 of those $69 fares.
  by rcthompson04
 
I went through the list of Pennsylvania stations and I was surprised by the pattern I saw. Most of the stations west of Harrisburg are manned while most of the stations east of Harrisburg aren’t so you have several low volume stations manned while others with several times higher volume aren’t. Keystones are really a commuter train so I get it not having agents at even fairly busy stations (Exton and Downingtown in particular), but this proposal seems to be an absurd metric on its face. I suspect an agent will eventually be added at Exton as the rebuilt station has an office. What value do we get from having agents at most spots west of Harrisburg?
  by mcgrath618
 
rcthompson04 wrote: Thu Aug 12, 2021 8:10 am I went through the list of Pennsylvania stations and I was surprised by the pattern I saw. Most of the stations west of Harrisburg are manned while most of the stations east of Harrisburg aren’t so you have several low volume stations manned while others with several times higher volume aren’t. Keystones are really a commuter train so I get it not having agents at even fairly busy stations (Exton and Downingtown in particular), but this proposal seems to be an absurd metric on its face. I suspect an agent will eventually be added at Exton as the rebuilt station has an office. What value do we get from having agents at most spots west of Harrisburg?
Especially when there’s one train a day? If there were more Pennsylvanians, it might make sense.
  by bostontrainguy
 
eolesen wrote: Thu Aug 12, 2021 2:08 am In many cases you only need an agent for an hour a day per train. Problem is finding someone willing to stick around when the trains are several hours late.
Who's maintaining the station? Someone must be cleaning it and throwing out the trash every day. There must also be two trains a day so schedule around that somehow. Clean the station between trains? Maybe a retired person in the area who is flexible with their time would like to pick up a little extra cash? Plenty of old folks who like trains and would probably like to do it. Could even spread it between a small group of reliable people.

Could they be paid by the town and not be Amtrak employees?
  by gokeefe
 
Ticket agents must be Amtrak employees. There is a collective bargaining issue which I've seen volunteers have to tap dance around at times.

Station cleaning at smaller stops is often handled by local government, volunteer organizations, contractors or the landlords (when Amtrak doesn't own).

One thing which I remain surprised by is the extent to which Ticket Agents can actually function more as Sales Agents. I have seen extremely complex and high dollar long distance fares being sold in Portland (ME) which would have been difficult over the phone and impossible online. Quite a few elders who were happy to drop $2,500 on a roundtrip bit were never going to be able to effectively communicate any other way.

I agree of course that for simple transactions it a redundant capability. It could be that the new threshold is indeed quite low. However, I will not be surprised to see a measure of success resulting from this effort and in ways that we might not expect.



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