Amtrak using iPhones as service tools

Amtrak, the government-owned passenger train corporation, has started to replace its traditional hole-punch ticketing workflow with iPhones. The New York Times reports that the company has been training conductors since November to use the iPhone as an electronic ticket scanner on several routes. By late summer, 1,700 conductors will be using the devices on Amtrak routes across the country, according to the company. Once the new system is implemented, passengers will be able to print tickets or load a bar code on their smartphone screens for conductors to scan; as a bonus, the conductors will be able to better keep track of passengers on board.

“You don’t even need to print the document and bring it with you,” said Matt Hardison, chief of sales distribution at Amtrak, who helped plan the iPhone program. “We’ve made a number of important improvements for both our customers and Amtrak, all in one fell swoop.” According to the company, the system cost $7.5 million, including $5.5 million for the software development and $2 million for hardware.

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