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The Amtrak Website Has a "New Look."


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#181 PRR 60

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 12:02 PM

On the site under reports and documents the links to all Monthly performance reports has disappeared.

 
Interesting find.  Unless they are hiding in somewhere, the monthly report links are gone.  I thought that public access to those reports was written into the Amtrak legislation.

 

You may not be able to get the monthly reports right now, but there is this one.  If you go to "About Amtrak" and go to the last item of the listing on the left side of the page, you will see a link for "Alaska Airlines."  Click that and you will get this message: 

Effective July 15, 2007, Amtrak will cease to be a Travel Partner in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Program.  Amtrak will continue to honor all rail travel awards issued before July 15, 2007 for a period of one year ending July 15, 2008.

 

 

Someone took the time to ensure that link carried into the new site.  Very helpful and timely.



#182 jis

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 12:18 PM

More like the random link shuffler that is in charge, did not happen to randomly remove it. :P



#183 Bob Dylan

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 01:25 PM

Yep, "Back to the Future" seems to be Amtraks MO!🤔
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#184 ChuckL

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 06:10 PM

Does anyone know how to get to a list of stations?  It seems to have disappeared.
 
jb

It doesn't look like there is a specific page listing all the stations, but you can click on Destinations and search for a station from there, or browse by region. If you know the station code, you can also add it to the end of the address like so: https://amtrak.com/stations/was using WAS as an example.
It’s available by state in the mobile app. Go to Status, select the station in Where’s My Train, and then scroll to the bottom of Recents and you’ll see a See Full List button. Silly that they forgot about it on the website, but at least there’s this option if you need it and have the iOS mobile app.


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#185 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 07:27 AM

This should interest jebr, norfolkwesternhenry, and others from the Minneapolis area. I tried to play around with the new Amtrak website and typed in Minneapolis. Instead of MSP, MSL comes up as the default option. You have to manually type in MSP to get it to work.


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Bring back the Broadway Limited (or Three Rivers or any Chicago-Pittsburgh-Philly train)!
 
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#186 PRR 60

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 08:56 AM

This should interest jebr, norfolkwesternhenry, and others from the Minneapolis area. I tried to play around with the new Amtrak website and typed in Minneapolis. Instead of MSP, MSL comes up as the default option. You have to manually type in MSP to get it to work.

 

MSL = Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport in Amtrak's world.  Start typing "Minneapolis," and the airport bus stop is not just the default option, it's the only option.  The train station is not even shown as an option.  Even if you enter "St. Paul." the airport is the first option, but the Union Depot is at least an option.



#187 jebr

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 10:33 AM

This should interest jebr, norfolkwesternhenry, and others from the Minneapolis area. I tried to play around with the new Amtrak website and typed in Minneapolis. Instead of MSP, MSL comes up as the default option. You have to manually type in MSP to get it to work.


Yeah, I remember discovering this back on launch (though it was buried way back and probably got lost in the shuffle to some extent):
 

 

The web site does not recognize Saint Paul as an origin.

 
It will, however, recognize "St. Paul" (or "Minneapolis", but only for the airport Thruway stop, so that's not entirely helpful.) St. Paul's one of those tricky towns that I've seen other websites (mainly bus services) glitch out with as well if it's not typed in the way they're expecting, so it doesn't surprise me that Amtrak's website suffers from similar issues. Minneapolis only pulling up the airport stop, however, is bad design (the entry still starts "St. Paul-Minneapolis" just like the train station, so I'm not sure what the difference is.)

 

 

But yeah, while I haven't notified Amtrak of it yet, I'm surprised they haven't noticed it and fixed it on their end. I usually just type "MSP" somewhat instinctually anyways (even on airport websites) so I haven't really noticed it other than that time, as MSP does still pull up St. Paul Union Depot.

 

The only thing I can forgive Amtrak for slightly is being particular on the spelling of St. Paul. I'm frustrated, though, that Amtrak hasn't fixed it to at least put Union Depot as the default option for both St. Paul and Minneapolis. I'm honestly not even sure why they list MSP airport as an option. The connection isn't even built properly for anyone going west of Saint Paul (it requires going down to La Crosse and then back up to the airport on 8/28, which is a nice little 6 hour detour, and the connection won't even build for 7/27.) East of St. Paul isn't much better, either - the website won't build the connection from the airport for anything east of St. Paul. The connection from 7/27 for points east of La Crosse is also no faster than simply going up to St. Paul and then taking the local 54 bus to the airport, and by that point it's so late that you're likely looking at an overnight anyways.

 

I'm not a fan of eliminating options, but in this case the "option" is so sparse and doesn't really build properly for anyone to be able to make a round trip that it's essentially worthless. Given that it seems to be throwing the website into a tizzy (not to mention that the service from Union Depot is easily replaced by a frequent local bus) I say remove the MSL stop on that Thruway. Its main purpose is to connect to Rochester anyways, so just let it do that and stop trying to add a pretty much useless option with it as well.



#188 willem

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 11:00 AM

The only thing I can forgive Amtrak for slightly is being particular on the spelling of St. Paul.

 
You're more forgiving than I am. I maintain that it should recognize Saint Paul, and that it should recognize St Paul, but it does neither. Maybe I underestimate the effort required to make the interface recognize variations that the user might enter.

 

But I do agree with you that Union Depot should be the default and that making Union Depot the default is a higher priority that recognizing Saint Paul and St Paul (but completing all these tasks should be simple and quick).



#189 John Bobinyec

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 03:05 PM

BLIND DATES

 

No, not the kind you go out to dinner with.  When you attempt to book a reservation, Amtrak's website lists the available trains and used to show you the dates.  It no longer shows the dates.  This presents problems when trying to take a train which does not run everyday.

 

For example, try to book a train from SPG (Springfield, MA) to RNK (Roanoke, VA) on a weekday.  There is, of course no direct way to do this.  Amtrak should show various combinations of trains which will get you there, but it doesn't.  What it does instead is put up a very passive warning:

 

"PROBLEM WITH YOUR ITINERARY - PLEASE CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE BELOW: The train(s) you selected are not available on the date(s) you requested. "

 

Below that warning it lists the train, 147, which will presumably get you there.  It doesn't mention that this train runs only on Saturday, or show the date.  So, an unsuspecting novice might go ahead and go through the motions to try to book this train and if lucky, realize near the very end when the summary page is presented, that this train is for the wrong day.

 

jb


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Old: Phoebe Snow (EL), Montrealer (AT), Laurentian (D&H)

RBBB: St. Petersburg - W. Palm Beach, Lakeland - Atlanta, Baltimore - NYC, Rochester, NY - Hartford, Albuquerque - Salt Lake City, Denver - Chicago

Modern: Ocean (VIA), Silver Star, Capitol Limited, Texas Eagle, Autotrain, Carolinian, Southwest Chief, California Zephyr, Lake Shore Limited

 


#190 daybeers

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 10:30 PM

BLIND DATES

 

No, not the kind you go out to dinner with.  When you attempt to book a reservation, Amtrak's website lists the available trains and used to show you the dates.  It no longer shows the dates.  This presents problems when trying to take a train which does not run everyday.

 

For example, try to book a train from SPG (Springfield, MA) to RNK (Roanoke, VA) on a weekday.  There is, of course no direct way to do this.  Amtrak should show various combinations of trains which will get you there, but it doesn't.  What it does instead is put up a very passive warning:

 

"PROBLEM WITH YOUR ITINERARY - PLEASE CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE BELOW: The train(s) you selected are not available on the date(s) you requested. "

 

Below that warning it lists the train, 147, which will presumably get you there.  It doesn't mention that this train runs only on Saturday, or show the date.  So, an unsuspecting novice might go ahead and go through the motions to try to book this train and if lucky, realize near the very end when the summary page is presented, that this train is for the wrong day.

 

jb

Wow, I just tried that on the website and got the same results. This really needs to be fixed. Have you reported this to Amtrak?


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#191 John Bobinyec

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 05:01 AM

No.  We have folks here on AU who work for Amtrak.  Hopefully they would know whom to talk to.  I don't.

 

jb


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Old: Phoebe Snow (EL), Montrealer (AT), Laurentian (D&H)

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#192 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 05:55 AM

If you’re on FB, you can either post on Amtrak’s FB page send a FB message to one of the page’s admins.
I️ messaged someone and got a response the day the new website rolled out.


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#193 Anderson

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:02 PM

I don't work at Amtrak, but...right now?  I'd say they should sack the website rebuild, bring back the previous edition, and tell whomever wrote this website up to get their head out of their ass.  A lot of the issues haven't gotten fixed (for example, I can manually access the MPRs but it feels like we'd have to have someone hack the website to find what should be publicly-available documents going forward) and they've had close to a month.


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#194 jis

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 06:55 PM

I find the multi-city booking page to borderline unusable in its present form. Yes, it can issues a ticket, but is very hsrd to use for any trip planning, unlike most airline websites that I have used.



#195 TiBike

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 08:29 PM

The bike info has mostly been fixed -- bikes are no longer the only medical devices allowed  ;)  The info re roll up/roll on/etc seems to have been sorted out, although the links to station info are broken.

 

In figuring out what went (and still goes) wrong, some distinctions need to be made. The actual web design -- the look and layout -- would have been done separately (likely outsourced) from the IT integration for live info and likely also the static content migration/editing. I'd bet that at least three different departments are involved, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were 4 or 5. I don't think there's anything wrong with the design, even if it doesn't particularly appeal to me. Looking at the source code, it seems professional enough on the superficial level I operate at.

 

The static content migration was just sloppy work, maybe because the people doing it were fighting other alligators at the time, or maybe because it was the responsibility of a separate department with its own work ethic and/or no adult supervision. Imagine that at Amtrak.

 

The big fail was on the IT integration side. I don't think there was any testing or planning beyond "yeah, we can handle that". The designers walk in on Sunday morning, hand a box labeled "hot new website - this end up" to the CIO (played by Patrick Stewart) who tosses to the team and says "make it so".

 

Culling the middle management ranks, as Amtrak seems to be doing now, is a good first step toward preventing a repeat.


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#196 Rover

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 01:31 PM

A Plus for the new web site is that I can go directly to "Track A Train".

 

Before, to get there, I always had to go to the Amtrak home page and then link out to Track A Train.


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