Amtrak announced yesterday that the company’s 1700 conductors will be using the iPhone as a ticket scanner.
The conductor’s iPhone will be equipped with a case, which will include an extra battery, a bar-code scanner and will come pre-installed with a special app to scan tickets.
The iPhones will scan barcodes on physical tickets to verify their validity; they will also be able to scan digital barcodes from smartphones.
The New York Times reports the following regarding the new system:
By late summer, 1,700 conductors will be using the devices on Amtrak trains across the country, the company said.
With the new system, passengers will be able to print tickets or load a special bar code on their smartphone screens for conductors to scan, and conductors will be able to keep track of passengers on board, Amtrak said.
Matt Hardison, chief of sales and distribution at Amtrak, has voiced in with his opinion:
“You don’t even need to print the document and bring it with you. We’ve made a number of important improvements for both our customers and Amtrak, all in one fell swoop.”
It was probably high time that Amtrak revamped their age old system where conductors had to manually punch holes in the tickets, put in the pouch and send it to a central location where it is eventually scanned and processed.
Not only will the new system make ticket verification an easier affair, it will also open the gate for other features.
With the new iPhone-powered system, conductors can monitor passenger check-ins in real time. That will help them manage seating: if there are passengers who don’t show up, for example, it will be easier to fill empty seats with other passengers. [...]
[...] conductors can indicate to the engineer if a disabled person is getting on at a particular stop so that the train staff can be prepared to coordinate the track and the wheelchair lift.
The company has said that the iPhone system cost $7.5 million – $5.5 million for software development and another $2 million for the physical hardware.
Amtrack has an iPhone application that enables customers to book tickets, check the status of their trains, and more. You can download it here for free.