Today I'm commuting to New York City on the Acela Express.
I've done this trip so many times that I've lost count. But, this morning my train ride is filled with a mix of emotions as Amtrak moves forward with technology and it has me feeling a bit nostalgic.
Waiting on the platform for my train to arrive, a commuter train approached from the opposite direction. The doors opened and passengers boarded. The morning hustle was in full effect.
I haven’t heard a conductor call this in a long time. He wasn’t just saying it because someone told him to. He was shouting it with enthusiasm and it instantly brought me back to the train rides of old.
This was fresh in my head as I took my seat next to a nice young woman reading her Kindle.
Earlier when I had printed my ticket at the station kiosk, I was confused as a single ticket came out. Instead of separate tickets for each leg of your journey, a single ticket is now printed. This is a smart move to save paper and I can’t help but wonder how many people may not realize this and throw away their ticket after their first bit of travel.
As the conductor made his way through our car and took my ticket I heard a new sound. The beep of an electronic scanner.
This is a move in the right direction. I know the next step is fully electronic tickets in the Amtrak app.
This bit of needed progress is great, but I instantly thought of a nameless conductor that I’ve been looking to profile on Passion Hit TV ever since Amtrak sponsored the show.
On one of my early morning commutes, I over heard him talking to a fellow passenger. Whenever he use to rip the tickets in half and he recognized the person, he’d ask if they could sign it for him.
He kept a rubber band wrapped stack of these autographed train ticket stubs in his pocket. He had celebrities, sports stars and politicians. What a great stack of memories and he had the stories to go with each of them.
Tangible souvenirs are quickly being replaced by check-ins and status updates.
He is no longer going to be able to collect the ticket stubs and I’ll never get to here the click, click of a conductor punching my ticket.
As we move forward with innovation and technology, I love every bit of it. Having WiFi on the train allows me to share these thoughts with you, but it also distracts me from watching the country side roll by. Looking around, most people are looking at a screen of some sort, rather than getting to know the strangers around them.
There has always been something nostalgic about train travel for me and as it evolves with the world around it, a piece of me will fondly call out for a simpler time and days gone by riding the train.