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Amtrak Blacklist?


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#41 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 02:32 AM

 

My question is: did the unaccompanied minor start an argument, or did the conductor start the argument by demanding paperwork from the unaccompanied minor? If the former, he should have been arrested. If the latter, the fault fundamentally lies with Amtrak HQ for its really stupid unaccompanied minor policies, which are simply *asking* for people to violate them.


You make it sound like your are excusing the passenger's violent behavior.

Was it violent? Simple assault can include virtually any action which involves contact, violent or otherwise. That's what makes this thread so frustrating. There's not nearly enough information to fully understand what really happened.

 

I'm going to bookmark this thread so I can reference it any time a minor asks if they can get away with fooling the conductors instead of going through the "unaccompanied minor" process.


You might be surprised at how a teenager could interpret this thread. They may choose to disbelieve it entirely or even see it as some sort of worst case success story.


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#42 Anderson

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 03:08 AM

 

Good idea.  I think it wasn't that long ago that a minor wanted to travel by himself, discussing his options in this forum.

 

We've had a few like that. 

 

And of course, it also often depends on the train being chosen.  The odds of getting called out are probably a lot lower on corridor trains, let alone commuter-esque trains with unreserved seating (say, the Surfliner) than on an LD train.  IIRC most of the cases involved trains towards the commuter-ish end of the spectrum.

TBH I have trouble finding fault with someone not wanting to be hamstrung by excessively CYA policies on the part of Amtrak (bear in mind that UAM policies hard-bar a significant number of types of travel, including overnight trips in the case of Amtrak; outside of Amtrak, there's often significant expense added to UAM travel as well...IIRC a number of airlines slap an extra $100-150 or so onto each one-way ticket...so Junior's $150 round-trip "basic economy" ticket might easily end up running $450).

Yes, I recognize that this is all "for their protection" and "it's a dangerous world" and all that jazz, but especially taking into account the number of unstaffed stations in the system potentially constraining travel now it gets pretty absurd how constrained some things are (especially since in some cases, at least on paper it's possible to do most or all of a trip on commuter trains regardless of Amtrak's policies...for example, as far as I can tell, Metrolink and Coaster don't even have a UAM policy, so in an attempt to "protect" under-18s Amtrak's policy forces them to make an extra transfer at Oceanside), particularly once you throw shared custody situations involving geographically separated families.


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#43 dlagrua

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 08:04 AM

After reading this thread it is clear (that unless someone was an eye witness), we really do not know what happened.   I find it hard to believe that if anyone committed an assault, minor or not, he/she would not be taken away by the police.                            


Edited by dlagrua, 11 June 2018 - 08:04 AM.

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#44 railiner

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 08:35 AM

 

 

Good idea.  I think it wasn't that long ago that a minor wanted to travel by himself, discussing his options in this forum.

 

We've had a few like that. 

 

And of course, it also often depends on the train being chosen.  The odds of getting called out are probably a lot lower on corridor trains, let alone commuter-esque trains with unreserved seating (say, the Surfliner) than on an LD train.  IIRC most of the cases involved trains towards the commuter-ish end of the spectrum.

TBH I have trouble finding fault with someone not wanting to be hamstrung by excessively CYA policies on the part of Amtrak (bear in mind that UAM policies hard-bar a significant number of types of travel, including overnight trips in the case of Amtrak; outside of Amtrak, there's often significant expense added to UAM travel as well...IIRC a number of airlines slap an extra $100-150 or so onto each one-way ticket...so Junior's $150 round-trip "basic economy" ticket might easily end up running $450).

Yes, I recognize that this is all "for their protection" and "it's a dangerous world" and all that jazz, but especially taking into account the number of unstaffed stations in the system potentially constraining travel now it gets pretty absurd how constrained some things are (especially since in some cases, at least on paper it's possible to do most or all of a trip on commuter trains regardless of Amtrak's policies...for example, as far as I can tell, Metrolink and Coaster don't even have a UAM policy, so in an attempt to "protect" under-18s Amtrak's policy forces them to make an extra transfer at Oceanside), particularly once you throw shared custody situations involving geographically separated families.

 

In this litigious society, if I owned a carrier, I would have a simple "no unaccompanied minor's" policy.   I would not take on the liability of being responsible for one, for any amount of extra fee, when so many things could happen beyond my control, to jeopardize my position.

 

In the case of split custody...too bad...one of you has to accompany your offspring when transfering to the other.   


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#45 cpotisch

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 09:08 AM

I feel like if someone physically assaults an employee (or anyone for that matter), they should be at minimum taken off the train. That person is a hazard to other employees or passengers, and allowing him to ride (especially since he's an unaccompanied minor without the appropriate paperwork) would seem to tell him that his behavior is ok. Forgive me if I'm missing something, since I seem to be in the minority here, but that's my take on the situation.


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#46 John Bobinyec

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 09:18 AM

In this litigious society, if I owned a carrier, I would have a simple "no unaccompanied minor's" policy.   I would not take on the liability of being responsible for one, for any amount of extra fee, when so many things could happen beyond my control, to jeopardize my position.

 

 

In the case of split custody...too bad...one of you has to accompany your offspring when transfering to the other.   

 

In the case of Amtrak, how could you enforce that?  A minor has the ability to buy a ticket as if they're an adult.  So they show up at a station.  The train pulls in.  Are you going to check everyone's ticket and ID to determine if their ticket is proper with regards to age?  Oh, and by the way, while you're doing all this, you have a road crossing blocked and the train is already a half hour late.

 

Yesterday it was so hot in Charlotte that the assistant conductor didn't bother with having all us old timers stand out in the sun fiddling with our tickets.  She checked them when we got going.

 

What to do in any given situation is a judgement call on the part of the crew.  Corporate policies, such as "unattended minor", sometimes become "guidelines" rather than hard-fast rules.

 

jb


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#47 Seaboard92

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 09:26 AM

Well the other thing to is that if someone really wants to get around something they can. The more determined the more successful they will be at it.
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#48 Karl1459

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 09:36 AM

After reading this thread it is clear (that unless someone was an eye witness), we really do not know what happened.   I find it hard to believe that if anyone committed an assault, minor or not, he/she would not be taken away by the police.                            

 

Reviewing, the OP is John Bobinyac giving a first hand account. As to "assault"  I think we should treat it as fact. As to "degree" hopefully John will give us an update.



#49 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 09:46 AM

I feel like if someone physically assaults an employee (or anyone for that matter), they should be at minimum taken off the train. That person is a hazard to other employees or passengers, and allowing him to ride (especially since he's an unaccompanied minor without the appropriate paperwork) would seem to tell him that his behavior is ok. Forgive me if I'm missing something, since I seem to be in the minority here, but that's my take on the situation.

 

In casual conversations physical assault is generally envisioned as slapping, hitting, or beating someone.  In reality calmly tapping a shoulder or slowly pushing someone away from shouting in your face can be considered physical assault for legal purposes. 


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#50 railiner

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 09:47 AM

 

In this litigious society, if I owned a carrier, I would have a simple "no unaccompanied minor's" policy.   I would not take on the liability of being responsible for one, for any amount of extra fee, when so many things could happen beyond my control, to jeopardize my position.

 

 

In the case of split custody...too bad...one of you has to accompany your offspring when transfering to the other.   

 

In the case of Amtrak, how could you enforce that?  A minor has the ability to buy a ticket as if they're an adult.  So they show up at a station.  The train pulls in.  Are you going to check everyone's ticket and ID to determine if their ticket is proper with regards to age?  Oh, and by the way, while you're doing all this, you have a road crossing blocked and the train is already a half hour late.

 

Yesterday it was so hot in Charlotte that the assistant conductor didn't bother with having all us old timers stand out in the sun fiddling with our tickets.  She checked them when we got going.

 

What to do in any given situation is a judgement call on the part of the crew.  Corporate policies, such as "unattended minor", sometimes become "guidelines" rather than hard-fast rules.

 

jb

 

If someone close to adult age buys a ticket and boards...that's on them...and another matter.

What I am concerned with is the official unaccompanied minor policy, where paperwork is involved, and the carrier has custodial responsibility for the UM...


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#51 John Bobinyec

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 10:41 AM

I really can't give too much of an update.  There were two male under-aged minors travelling on train 75 on Friday, 6/8/2018.  The train started in Raleigh.  I got on at Cary, the next stop.  My ticket was scanned when I boarded.  Before we got to Durham, the next stop after Cary, my wife heard on the scanner that the police in Durham should be summoned to meet the train, and that someone was to be put off the train.

 

While we were sitting at Durham station for an hour, the Durham city police came to meet the train.  The youths were sitting two cars behind the one I was sitting in.  While the train sat there, I did go back to the lounge car and observed that the boys were nearly 6 feet tall.  I knew it was them because the police were with them.

 

While the train sat there, we had the crossing west of Durham station blocked.

 

My wife was getting tidbits over the radio.  And I talked to someone else on the train who was not an eyewitness, but who was in constant contact with the crew.  The issue was about having the boys not having the proper paperwork to be travelling under the under-aged minor program.  The conductor, a short woman, confronted them about this.  A heated discussion ensued.  One of the boys shoved the conductor.  The police did not remove the boys from the train.  The conductor called the local Amtrak trainmaster about the incident.  The conductor elected not to continue the trip.  The assistant conductor continued the trip as conductor.  A relief assistant conductor was called at Charlotte for the return trip.

 

I don't know where the boys got on (either Raleigh or Cary).  I was one of the first ones to board at Cary.  

 

I don't know who said what to whom and when.  I don't know if the conductor threatened to put them off the train before or after she was shoved.

 

The police spent a lot of time on the phone, presumably talking to headquarters.

 

Later I overheard the remaining crew members talking about the incident, confirming what I have related to you.

 

I guess the only way to find out what really happened is to get a hold of the police report and/or the report that was officially filed with Amtrak headquarters.

 

And by the way, my original question was about the blacklist.

 

jb


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#52 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 11:05 AM

I really can't give too much of an update. There were two male under-aged minors travelling on train 75 on Friday, 6/8/2018. The train started in Raleigh. I got on at Cary, the next stop. My ticket was scanned when I boarded. Before we got to Durham, the next stop after Cary, my wife heard on the scanner that the police in Durham should be summoned to meet the train, and that someone was to be put off the train. While we were sitting at Durham station for an hour, the Durham city police came to meet the train. The youths were sitting two cars behind the one I was sitting in. While the train sat there, I did go back to the lounge car and observed that the boys were nearly 6 feet tall. I knew it was them because the police were with them. While the train sat there, we had the crossing west of Durham station blocked. My wife was getting tidbits over the radio. And I talked to someone else on the train who was not an eyewitness, but who was in constant contact with the crew. The issue was about having the boys not having the proper paperwork to be travelling under the under-aged minor program. The conductor, a short woman, confronted them about this. A heated discussion ensued. One of the boys shoved the conductor. The police did not remove the boys from the train. The conductor called the local Amtrak trainmaster about the incident. The conductor elected not to continue the trip. The assistant conductor continued the trip as conductor. A relief assistant conductor was called at Charlotte for the return trip. I don't know where the boys got on (either Raleigh or Cary). I was one of the first ones to board at Cary. I don't know who said what to whom and when. I don't know if the conductor threatened to put them off the train before or after she was shoved. The police spent a lot of time on the phone, presumably talking to headquarters. Later I overheard the remaining crew members talking about the incident, confirming what I have related to you. I guess the only way to find out what really happened is to get a hold of the police report and/or the report that was officially filed with Amtrak headquarters. And by the way, my original question was about the blacklist. jb

 

Even if you had the post-event police report unless those officers were witnesses to the event their report cannot and will not conclusively confirm what actually happened. It can only explain what the police observed, what they were told about what happened, and give context to whatever evidence was found in support of or contradictory to the various claims and statements. I'm actually inclined to support the conductor here, but I'm unwilling to agree that your secondhand story is truly provable, let alone irrefutable.

 

 

If the police were on site for an hour, there was definitely a serious situation.


It sure sounds like there was a serious claim, but based on the eventual conclusion there may not have been enough observable evidence to support that acting upon that claim.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 11 June 2018 - 11:28 AM.

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#53 Lonestar648

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 11:09 AM

If the police were on site for an hour, there was definitely a serious situation.  Wonder if the parents were called and the police were talking with them.  Sounds like, but not confirmed, that the Conductor quit when Amtrak did not support her in this dispute by at least putting the boys off the train.  The boys could have been put off the train to be held by the police, because they are minors, until the parents arrived to take them home, but with no charges filed, just a warning.  Instead, Amtrak sided with the boys, made the police happy, and no potential lawsuits from the parents, though the parents could file a suit for Amtrak allowing a minor to board without parental permission.  Unaccompanied Minors traveling is a legal minefield waiting for a lawsuit whether airlines or Amtrak.. 


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#54 John Bobinyec

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 11:25 AM

Translation:  I didn't see anything happen with my own two eyes, everything I have reported is from third and fourth party hearsay, but I can confirm everything I claim.  No, you can't. Police reports do not and cannot settle conclusively what actually happened.  They can only explain what the police observed, what they were told about what happened, and give context to whatever evidence was found in support of or contradictory to various claims and statements.

I can confirm everything that  I saw is what I saw and everything that I heard is what I heard.  I cannot confirm what actually happened in the incident.  I suggested the police report or the Amtrak report as a source of more information.  And - all of this is irrelevant, but merely background to my original question - which was about the existence of the Amtrak blacklist.

 

jb


Edited by John Bobinyec, 11 June 2018 - 11:39 AM.

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#55 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 11:40 AM

 

Translation:  I didn't see anything happen with my own two eyes, everything I have reported is from third and fourth party hearsay, but I can confirm everything I claim.  No, you can't. Police reports do not and cannot settle conclusively what actually happened.  They can only explain what the police observed, what they were told about what happened, and give context to whatever evidence was found in support of or contradictory to various claims and statements.

I can confirm everything I saw and everything that people told me.  Is what people all told me true - of course not.  I suggested the police report or the Amtrak report as a source of more information.  And - all of this is irrelevant, but merely background to my original question - which was about the existence of the Amtrak blacklist. jb

 

Fair enough.  As I read it again I modified my response as it occurred to me that I could be misinterpreting what you were claiming could be confirmed.  So far as I am aware virtually all common carriers have no-travel "blacklists" that predate the TSA by decades.  That being said, in the case of Amtrak I would imagine it's about as easy to enforce as arena and stadium bans.  In other words not very easy at all.


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#56 TiBike

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 12:18 PM

In casual conversations physical assault is generally envisioned as slapping, hitting, or beating someone.  In reality calmly tapping a shoulder or slowly pushing someone away from shouting in your face can be considered physical assault for legal purposes. 

 

Actually, assault does not involve contact. It is an aggressive or threatening action toward someone. I've even seen someone convicted of assault for directing vile language at someone from a comfortable distance (a complicated case with unusual circumstances, but that's how it was resolved by the judge). If physical contact is made, of any kind, including thrown objects, it's battery.


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#57 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 11 June 2018 - 12:59 PM

 

In casual conversations physical assault is generally envisioned as slapping, hitting, or beating someone.  In reality calmly tapping a shoulder or slowly pushing someone away from shouting in your face can be considered physical assault for legal purposes.

 
Actually, assault does not involve contact. It is an aggressive or threatening action toward someone. I've even seen someone convicted of assault for directing vile language at someone from a comfortable distance (a complicated case with unusual circumstances, but that's how it was resolved by the judge). If physical contact is made, of any kind, including thrown objects, it's battery.

 
Much of this depends on the state in question, but living in an era where lightly tapping someone or calmly laying a hand on a shoulder (as if to get their attention or calm them down) is considered the commission of physical battery seems borderline crazy to me.  I guess we've simply given up on matching the punishment to the actual crime.  With odds like this is no wonder around 95% of US criminal court cases result in plea bargains.  Even if you're a proponent of aggressive prosecution the odd conclusion described in this thread could be a lesson in unintended consequences.  People who believe a given crime is likely to receive what they consider to be an overly severe punishment are generally less inclined to act upon it, potentially leading to no punishment at all.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 11 June 2018 - 01:30 PM.

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#58 neroden

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 10:55 AM

Thanks for the details, though it's clear that you can't really answer my question, which is basically whether the kid was being threatened and harrassed by Amtrak staff *before* shoving the conductor or not.  If she threatened them first, they may have been defending themselves.

 

Seriously, "not having the proper paperwork" is not really grounds for anything; the bureaucratic hassles which have been set up to prevent kids from traveling on Amtrak are way over the top.  I can easily conceive of a situation where they thought they had all the paperwork and an officious, bureaucratic conductor was hassling them for missing something.

 

Amtrak's policy is frankly stupid.  If a minor doesn't have a release form signed by the "right adult", the absolute stupidest thing Amtrak can do is to throw them off the train; that'll get them twenty times more lawsuits, and already has landed them with lawsuits and bad press repeatedly.  I don't know what brain-damaged moron wrote Amtrak's unaccompanied minor policy, but they should have copied one of the commuter rail policies; or better yet, subway policies.


Edited by neroden, 13 June 2018 - 10:56 AM.

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#59 cpotisch

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 01:00 PM

Seriously, "not having the proper paperwork" is not really grounds for anything; the bureaucratic hassles which have been set up to prevent kids from traveling on Amtrak are way over the top.  I can easily conceive of a situation where they thought they had all the paperwork and an officious, bureaucratic conductor was hassling them for missing something.

I'm eagerly awaiting my 16th birthday (6 days!), when I'll be able to take Amtrak without being accompanied to the station by my parents *and* an agent. I get the liability aspect of things, but I feel like they should ban unaccompanied minors altogether, or loosen up the restrictions. The rules are currently in the middle, and it's sort of the worst of both worlds, IMO.


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#60 Lonestar648

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 02:47 PM

With fewer and fewer stations with agents, the unaccompanied minor really doesn't work anymore.  Very little business would be lost by eliminating it.


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