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Amtrak launches mobile eTicket program nationwide

Turning its back on traditional paper-and-punch tickets, Amtrak has launched a new program which turns tickets into mobile barcodes.

Amtrak app

Amtrak is launching its new eTicket program, which will let passengers board trains nationwide without a paper ticket, from the end of this month.

Instead of standing in line at the ticket window, frantically checking the schedule board as a train arrives -- and then sails past -- travelers with an eTicket can go straight to the gate, and then just show their eTicket to the conductor on their smartphone or mobile device.

The conductor will then scan the eTicket by using their iPhone. However, this is not mandatory -- tickets are sent by e-mail and can still be printed at home or via station kiosks.

Before launching the nationwide eTicket scheme on July 30, Amtrak ran a pilot program on five routes. Amtrak says it "quickly exceeded expectations as rapid adoption by passengers resulted in shorter lines at ticket counters, less tickets sold onboard trains and fewer claims of lost tickets."

The eTicket program is in operation across every train route across the nation, as well as a number of California bus routes. The company hopes that by fall, every bus route will have the system in place.

"eTickets deliver the convenience and flexibility expected by passengers and its innovative technology is transforming other aspects of how Amtrak does business," President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement.