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Metrolink Ticket Machines - ugh!
I seem to recall that one could type in the confirmation number directly to retrieve the ticket(s). This week, at Santa Barbara, the machine required a clunky, counter-intuitive entry system by pushing side buttons until the number/letter was highlighted, hitting ENTER for each, and starting over. This isn't an Amtrak "enhancement" is it?
Sounds like you weren't using a QuikTrak at all, but one of the Metrolink ticket machines that have been upgraded -- but not necessarily optimized -- to also issue Amtrak tickets. (Yes, these machines can be found in stations like SBA and SLO that are outside the Metrolink commuter rail service area.) I personally have never used one to pick up Amtrak tickets and stick with the actual QuikTrak machines for simplicity.
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What's funny is that there is a Metrolink machine at SBA, a station which isn't regularly serviced by Metrolink. Same with SOL and SAN.
Wait, now that I think about, seems like Metrolink wanted to make it easier for passengers to transfer from Amtrak to their trains by allowing them to pre-purchase Metrolink tickets. I wonder how many people actually do this to justify the installation of these machines at those locations...
If I recall correctly, there's a NJ Transit ticket machine at PHL, which NJ Transit doesn't serve -- seems like the same principle is at work here.
But NJ Transit does serve Philly. They run trains between Philly and Atlantic City, so while they don't have a live agent in Philly, they do have a ticket machine in Philly.
One can also buy an Amtrak ticket for the NJT train too, since it is considered a Thruway service. IIRC, you can even use Amtrak discounts on those AC tickets, saving money over buying from the NJT machine.
You usually will have to call to get your AGR points to post, but it is 100 points!