If you ever travel by Amtrak, you might have your ticket scanned with an iPhone rather than punched or torn when you get on board. The transportation giant will soon be outfitting its train conductors with iPhones equipped with barcode scanners to process tickets — the system has been in testing since November, and the plans call for some 1,700 conductors across the country to be using the system by late summer. In addition to scanning paper tickets, conductors will also be able to scan barcodes on smartphone screens as well, making for a completely paperless transaction.
The iPhones won't just be used for ticket collection, either — the Amtrak app will allow for reporting of broken equipment, or it can alert the engineer that a disabled person will be boarding the train so the crew can properly prepare ramps or other necessities. It'll also allow for tracking of check-ins in real time, something not possible under the old system. There's also the possibility that this system will allow customers greater flexibility in terms of changing their train reservations, as well — riders may soon be able to change their reservations on their phones or online, in stead of having to wait in line to switch their tickets. While it's not really surprising to see the iPhone used in this way, anything that makes the process of taking the train more efficient sounds like good news to us.