The government-owned company Amtrak, which is responsible for overseeing all American railroad train services has found a new use for Apple’s iPhone. The company which has more than 20,000 employees, begun the rollout of the iPhone to its train conductors in November 2011 and by late summer this year, the company plans to have a reported 1,700 conductors with a modified iPhone capable of scanning tickets across the country.
Amtrak is said to have invested $7.5 million it its new iPhone based ticketing system with $5.5 million going just for the software development and the rest going to hardware-related costs. This new system will effectively allow customers to print out their own tickets or load them on their smartphone. The resultant barcode on either the physical or digital ticket can be picked up by the conductors with the help of a scanner attached to their iPhone as well as an application. The iPhone will include a special internal case that houses not only the scanner itself but also an external battery to ensure longer battery life.
The software which is loaded on the iPhone not only provides the capability to scan passenger’s tickets, but also can inform them of things such as a disabled passenger getting off the train at a particular stop which they can then use to coordinate the track and wheelchair lift. Besides that, the iPhone will also serve as a medium through which conductors can report any equipment failures such as broken toilet fixtures and other things. The system that is being implemented by Amtrak is not unlike Apple’s own iPod touch-based EasyPay checkout system that can be found in Apple Stores.