March 28, 2019
How Can Technology Help Us Get Around?
by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator
I spent a lot of time with Rail Passengers CEO & President (and my boss) Jim Mathews this week working on a final presentation for the National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure (NACTTI) at USDOT - I have been staffing Jim on this committee for nearly the last year. The idea of new and “seamless” technologies came up in conversation quite often, especially from those involved with other modes of transportation (airlines, car rental, cruise lines, etc).
An article in today’s Boston Globe on this very subject really got me thinking…. while various companies are looking for ways where security and personal technology can help get people seamlessly between (for example) hotels/resorts and cruise ships, how could us in the world of passenger rail try to harness these same ideas?
I have written past blogs on first/last mile options as well and the need for regional rail vision, but let's imagine for a second that we actually get all that. That we live in a world where Amtrak schedules work (and because they don’t, we have our #LateByFreight campaign) with local and regional rail (and bus) networks. What does that end up looking like? How do we get from one mode to the other?
An article early last year from London’s SmartRail World gives a little insight into how this could come together. Some of these ideas (such as getting rid of paper tickets completely) might scare off some of our loyal members - but imagine being able to go from an Amtrak train to a subway/commuter rail/bus network in any destination city in this country without need to reach into your pocket for a ticket (or even your phone) thanks to an ultra secure biometric scanner. No need to figure out various payment methods or carry a number of tickets to transfer around.
We aren’t talking about Skynet and the “war of the machines” quite yet - but imaging a world where I could go from Boston’s MBTA → Acela/Regional → DC’s Metro to get to the Rail Passengers HQ without so much as a click of an app… that would be a pretty cool thing to pull off. And it’s closer than we think.
Your hard working Rail Passengers staff is taking off from blogging next week so we can better focus on all things #RAILNATIONDC. Hopefully we will see you there!
Also - don’t forget about our Beer+Transit event monday night (sponsored by our good friends at Uber!)
"The National Association of Railroad Passengers has done yeoman work over the years and in fact if it weren’t for NARP, I'd be surprised if Amtrak were still in possession of as a large a network as they have. So they've done good work, they're very good on the factual case."
Robert Gallamore, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University and former Federal Railroad Administration official, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University
November 17, 2005, on The Leonard Lopate Show (with guest host Chris Bannon), WNYC New York.