Amtrak launches mobile eTicket program nationwide

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 … Read more

Amtrak to use Apple's iPhone as ticket scanner

Even the time-honored tradition of hole-punched train tickets is subject to Apple's wave of change. A program that began its training last November for a few select Amtrak routes will expand to include 1,700 train conductors across the country by late summer, according to the New York Times.

The new, iPhone-based system will allow Amtrak customers to print tickets or access a special bar code that conductors will be able to scan. On the back end, conductors will be able to keep track of the passengers on board much easier than with the hole-punch system.… Read more

Less agonizing travel search with Hipmunk

Whether you're a novice traveler or a frequent flyer, the Hipmunk travel search app should be a breeze to handle. Simply type in your destination and departure cities and select your travel dates. Then select Coach, Business, or First class, and enter the number travelers. And that's it. The process is very similar to that of most travel apps and Web sites, plus it comes with some quick auto-complete suggestions, a super-smooth date selector, and uniquely visual interface.

After you fill in all the fields, Hipmunk goes off and searches through its database to bring up tons of … Read more

The 404 824: Where we're spinning our way to the top (podcast)

Where would you go if all your neighbors turned into New Balance-wearing, speed-walking zombies? The CDC (unaffiliated with apocalyptic preacher Harold Camping) has some tips on how to survive the zombie apocalypse in a manual released on its Web site yesterday that uses the undead as a metaphor for disaster preparation. On today's show, we're also getting shallow and pedantic about Meredith Baker's newly appointed position as the senior vice president of governmental affairs for Comcast-NBC Universal, a merger that she oversaw as an FCC commissioner, and we're also chatting about a woman who was reportedly kicked off Amtrak for talking on the phone for 16 hours!

The 404 Digest for Episode 824

CDC advises on disaster prep the only way Americans understand: with zombies! FCC commissioner leaves for Comcast-NBC Universal Woman kicked off Amtrak for talking on the phone for 16 hours!

Episode 824 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains

Amtrak is finally getting an upgrade, but it's not high-speed rail. (If you've been to Europe or Asia, you'll know that Acela is NOT high-speed).

But Amtrak will be getting slightly more technologically savvy (and bearable) with the addition of free Wi-Fi to those Acela trains. So far, that means only trains on the Northeast corridor (New York, Washington, and Boston, specifically). No word on when that will be available anywhere else, where Amtrak trains are old and slow as beasts.

Read more of "Amtrak putting free Wi-Fi on Northeast trains; others have to wait" … Read more

Amtrak wants you to hop on board the party train

Riding on a sleeper train for several thousand miles seems a bit silly sometimes when you can just hop a plane for a couple of hours and get to the same destination in a fraction of the time, especially when it's often cheaper to fly anyway. Amtrak, however, is attempting to counter that image by promoting its train service as the landlubber's equivalent of a luxury cruise--a booze cruise, that is. According to an Associated Press article, the passenger rail service is trying to "gin up new business" (Ha, ha! You slay me, AP!) by offering … Read more