It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like Amtrak is finally ready to get with the times. This month, the human-carrier began testing a new e-ticketing system for passengers traveling along its Downeaster line, which extends from Maine to Boston. Under the trial, travelers can either print their tickets at home, or have them e-mailed as a barcode-laced PDF file for conductors to scan. Customers can also change their reservations at the last minute, without having to wait in line at the ticket counter and interact with other people. It’s not exactly cutting-edge technology, but Amtrak attributes the delay to the unique nature of the railway, where conductors check tickets in transit and have to deal with a steady stream of passengers getting on and hopping off. As a result, the company had to find a scanning device reliable enough to handle this constant flow of organisms, though it looks as if it’s nearing a solution. Amtrak plans to expand the trial to California in February, and if that goes well, the system could roll out on a nationwide basis as early as this summer.
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