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The Amtrak Website Has a "New Look."


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#21 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 02:21 PM

It will take some getting used to.

 

It honestly looks like a generic Pinterest account with a focus on coupons and advertising copy rather than on functional services.  All I wanted was a slightly more capable website with that further reduced the need to call support staff or bother tying up resources for tasks a computer should be able to manage on its own.  For instance, being able to choose your own room online or reserving a meal in advance to ensure it will be stocked when you travel. Instead we get yet another template refresh that doesn't appear to have added much in the way of meaningful enhancements while casually breaking old bookmarks.  Rather than diluting the primary website with frivolous visual trends from five years ago, why not simply redirect tablet users to the new mobile site where they can repeatedly click on random objects until something "magical" happens?  No need to serve toddlers at the adult table.  :lol:


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 08 October 2017 - 06:00 PM.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#22 Pere Flyer

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 03:25 PM

I'm disappointed by the booking bugs, too, and it seems that a reservation I made on the mobile app does not display on the desktop site. (Has anyone else experienced that problem?) But what's most frustrating is that the language setting seems to change from English to Mandarin Chinese (?) every five clicks or so. I have to manually cancel the conversion each time.

 

That being said, this millennial Amtrak supporter likes the new look. Everything I've explored so far (booking, route guides, OTP, schedules) is much easier to access than what I remember. Before, it was hard to locate and understand the OTP reports. Now, it takes only a few clicks to access them from the "destinations" dropdown. The profiles of each route advertise well, and the route maps have improved from the ghastly beige and red images.

 

Like it or not, this is what most websites look like in 2017. As bugs get squashed and features tweaked, I believe this redesign is a major step in Amtrak courting those under the age of 35.


Edited by Pere Flyer, 08 October 2017 - 03:28 PM.

Pere Marquette: 370 (CHI, HOM, GRR); 371 (GRR, HOM, CHI) | Heartland Flyer: 821 (OKC, NOR, FTW); 822 (FTW, NOR, OKC) | Texas Eagle: 22 (FTW, CHI)

 

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#23 willem

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 03:40 PM

The web site does not recognize Saint Paul as an origin. The information provided expects the screen to be wider than necessary, and certainly wider than my window. These should be easily fixed, but as Devil's Advocate noted, the emphasis seems not to be on usability.

 

Interestingly, when I searched for a train from Saint Paul to Chicago for October 24, the default premium accommodation for train 8 is a roomette while the default premium accommodation for train 28 is the family bedroom. Each train has both types of rooms available.

 

I also had, in my brief usage, one instance of the web site changing the origin station to that of a previous search, while presenting the information for the current search. (I had searched for trains from Albany to Chicago, then switched to Saint Paul to Chicago. When I clicked FIND TRAINS, I got results for Saint Paul to Chicago but the top of the page showed Albany to Chicago.)



#24 west point

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 06:12 PM

All the above problems and more observed.  Business class now listed 1st on premium services but not all trains.  BC has no way to be selected on some trains but not listed sold out. got station selected change for no reason.



#25 tricia

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 06:57 PM

Um, didn't anyone troubleshoot this before going live?



#26 Ryan

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:00 PM

Wow, I’ll bet they never thought of that. :rolleyes:
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#27 Maglev

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:03 PM

I was just looking to see if the new Cascades schedule was posted, and I found this description of the Cascades  route:

 

Amtrak Cascades

Boston - Vancouver, BC - Seattle - Tacoma - Portland - Salem - Eugene

Northwest Train Routes

Effective February 20, 2016

 

I wonder if that's Boston to Vancouver via Concord, NH and Montreal?


Northeast corridor Heritage, Amfleet and Acela, CN Super Continental, Broadway Limited, Lone Star, Sunset Limited, Coast Starlight, San Joaquin, Southwest Limited, National Limited, Champion, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Wolverine, Crescent, Empire Builder, Cascades, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Meteor, Cardinal. 

#28 Chey

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:20 PM

IIRC, you used to be able to book 11 months in advance. Although their booking calendar for Sept 2018 has only those dates after 9/8/2018 grayed out, I can actually only book for 10 months out (to Aug 8th 2018).

Edited by Chey, 08 October 2017 - 08:27 PM.


#29 Bob Dylan

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:32 PM

When I try to log on to amtrak.com on my phone, I get an error message.

When I try to use the Mobile app, it tells me that it is under going Maintence work, to log in to amtrak.com!!???
"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

#30 Chey

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:41 PM

When I try to log on to amtrak.com on my phone, I get an error message.

When I try to use the Mobile app, it tells me that it is under going Maintence work, to log in to amtrak.com!!???


It's working on my iPhone. But I haven't tried anything besides buying a ticket and train status.

Edit: I should have said shopping for a train ticket, I didn't buy it.

Edited by Chey, 08 October 2017 - 07:48 PM.


#31 the_traveler

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:45 PM

One small bug I found is with station name posting.

My home station is FED (Ft Edward). The drop down menu shows Ft Edward, however when you click it, the station name entered is “Ft Edwards” (with an S)!
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#32 jebr

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:09 PM

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.)
 

Interestingly, when I searched for a train from Saint Paul to Chicago for October 24, the default premium accommodation for train 8 is a roomette while the default premium accommodation for train 28 is the family bedroom. Each train has both types of rooms available.

 

A roomette may be more expensive than a family bedroom on 28 - usually those options will appear based on price (although a train with both sleeper and business class will show sleeper first.) It appears that's the case for that date as of right now.



#33 FrensicPic

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 08:19 PM

Wanted to look at menus and wound up in Japan (or somewhere like that)!


John...

29,076 miles on the Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle, Southwest Chief, Empire Builder, California Zephyr and Capitol Limited.

More miles on the Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink, White Pass and Yukon Route, Grand Canyon Railway, Napa Valley Wine Train, Fillmore and Western and private railcars with LARail.com

 

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#34 daybeers

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 09:16 PM

 I think everyone needs to give Amtrak's IT department some time to iron things out. They chose to do this in the very early morning on Saturday, which probably means affecting the least amount of people possible. It is true they clearly didn't do enough testing before rolling it out, but it takes a lot of work to completely overhaul a website.

 

It honestly looks like a generic Pinterest account with a focus on coupons and advertising copy rather than on functional services.  All I wanted was a slightly more capable website with that further reduced the need to call support staff or bother tying up resources for tasks a computer should be able to manage on its own.  For instance, being able to choose your own room online or reserving a meal in advance to ensure it will be stocked when you travel. Instead we get yet another template refresh that doesn't appear to have added much in the way of meaningful enhancements while casually breaking old bookmarks.  Rather than diluting the primary website with frivolous visual trends from five years ago, why not simply redirect tablet users to the new mobile site where they can repeatedly click on random objects until something "magical" happens?  No need to serve toddlers at the adult table.  :lol:

 

These are limitations of Amtrak's Arrow reservation system, not the website. This website overhaul is a step in the right direction, though, so maybe Arrow will be next. I feel like that's being optimistic though. I would also have to disagree about not much adding much to the website. As Pere Flyer pointed out, several things are now much easier to access.

 

The information provided expects the screen to be wider than necessary, and certainly wider than my window. These should be easily fixed, but as Devil's Advocate noted, the emphasis seems not to be on usability.

 

I actually think this refresh focuses on both usability and appearance. They need to work together to make a website great. I don't know about everyone else, but I've been looking at the website on my 13 inch laptop and it looks fine to me.


Amtrak travel so far: only 9,870 miles: Springfield Shuttle (11), Northeast Regional (24), Acela (1), Lake Shore Limited (2), Pennsylvanian (2), Capitol Limited (1)

Ambus mileage (3 trips): 108

Other rail transit: WMATA (~830 miles), Metra, CTA, MTA, MBTA, Metro-North


#35 SarahZ

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 09:39 PM

The layout is fine in Safari, on both my desktop and my laptop. It looks fine in Chrome too.

 

It kept switching to Chinese earlier, but it seems to be working now. I can also switch city pairs without issues, which I couldn't do earlier, so maybe they've been working on the bugs all day.

 

I like the layout of the pages where you can read about sleepers and such. It's taking me a moment to find everything again, but that's true of 99% of website changes, so my feathers remain unruffled. 


Amtrak Miles: 43,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#36 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 10:15 PM

I think everyone needs to give Amtrak's IT department some time to iron things out. They chose to do this in the very early morning on Saturday, which probably means affecting the least amount of people possible. It is true they clearly didn't do enough testing before rolling it out, but it takes a lot of work to completely overhaul a website.
 

It honestly looks like a generic Pinterest account with a focus on coupons and advertising copy rather than on functional services. All I wanted was a slightly more capable website with that further reduced the need to call support staff or bother tying up resources for tasks a computer should be able to manage on its own. For instance, being able to choose your own room online or reserving a meal in advance to ensure it will be stocked when you travel. Instead we get yet another template refresh that doesn't appear to have added much in the way of meaningful enhancements while casually breaking old bookmarks. Rather than diluting the primary website with frivolous visual trends from five years ago, why not simply redirect tablet users to the new mobile site where they can repeatedly click on random objects until something "magical" happens? No need to serve toddlers at the adult table. :lol:


These are limitations of Amtrak's Arrow reservation system, not the website. This website overhaul is a step in the right direction, though, so maybe Arrow will be next. I feel like that's being optimistic though. I would also have to disagree about not much adding much to the website. As Pere Flyer pointed out, several things are now much easier to access.

Most of what I commented on has nothing to do with ARROW.  In addition, ARROW already tracks your specific sleeper compartment, it's the web front end and/or middleware that prevents individual customers from selecting (or even seeing) their specific room before purchase. I have no idea which system tracks meals and I've never seen it mentioned here. It might be ARROW or it might be something entirely different.

 

Um, didn't anyone troubleshoot this before going live?

 

If this happened where I work it'd be really embarrassing, but its possible it was fully tested and the results of the testing were glossed over by middle management in order to meet a schedule or deadline.  It's also possible that the act of migrating the new site to production is what gummed it up.  Normally this sort of problem is caught during the migration from a development system to one of the testing environments, but if it's missed or the fix employed is not successful you can end up with a production system that fails in ways you did not expect or anticipate.  A news or forum website can simply roll back to a previous state in time, but once a major transactional website is launched into production it can be extremely difficult if not impossible to put the genie back into the bottle.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 08 October 2017 - 11:25 PM.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#37 KnightRail

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 10:18 PM

Anyone able to figure out how to load the Full Site on a mobile device? Had the old site bookmarked using a long link that stopped the mobile version and immediately loaded the Full Site but of course that bookmark is now broken.

There is this link on the mobile site to view the full site but it just redirects right back to the mobile site! (Tested on both safari and Firefox apps):
https://www.amtrak.c...ref=stop_mobile

Edited by KnightRail, 08 October 2017 - 10:31 PM.


#38 daybeers

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 10:49 PM

Most of what I commented on has nothing to do with ARROW.  In addition, ARROW already tracks your specific sleeper compartment, it's the web front end and/or middleware that prevents individual customers from selecting (or even seeing) their specific room before purchase. I have no idea which system tracks meals and I've never seen it mentioned here. It might be ARROW or it might be something entirely different.

 

Fair point. That doesn't mean the web front end won't be changed in the future to allow this, however.


Amtrak travel so far: only 9,870 miles: Springfield Shuttle (11), Northeast Regional (24), Acela (1), Lake Shore Limited (2), Pennsylvanian (2), Capitol Limited (1)

Ambus mileage (3 trips): 108

Other rail transit: WMATA (~830 miles), Metra, CTA, MTA, MBTA, Metro-North


#39 RSG

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 12:08 AM

Anyone able to figure out how to load the Full Site on a mobile device? Had the old site bookmarked using a long link that stopped the mobile version and immediately loaded the Full Site but of course that bookmark is now broken.

There is this link on the mobile site to view the full site but it just redirects right back to the mobile site! (Tested on both safari and Firefox apps):
https://www.amtrak.c...ref=stop_mobile

 

When using Safari for iOS 10 earlier Sunday it loaded the desktop version, though in fairness, it was already preloaded with a random page from several days earlier and when using other links on that page it continued to load the desktop versions.

 

Meanwhile, the Amtrak for iOS app is partially broken in that the stations will not load, thus making many of the functions of the app non-functional.



#40 Anderson

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 05:05 AM

I'm giving the new website a "Gentleman's C": I haven't encountered any of the issues above (yet) but I can't really say there's anything about it to thrill me, and I don't like having ad copy slapped right behind the booking area (it is a bit distracting).  So all in all it's coming off as a flashy waste of money at the moment...

 

...but I'm also a guy who wouldn't be too broken up if he was given an instruction manual and a way to book tickets using a fairly straight-up text interface, so please do take my grumbling with the appropriate grain of salt.


Capitol Limited (7), CA Zephyr (4) Lake Shore Limited (1), Acela (2), NE Regional (2), Sliver Meteor (4)

Upcoming: Silver Meteor (1), Lake Shore Limited (1), SW Chief (2), MO River Runner (1), Texas Eagle (1)

Possibly Upcoming: Either Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (2) or Texas Eagle (1), Capitol Limited (1), Silver Meteor (1)




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