Amtrak Closed San Francisco Ticket Office Oct 28th, 2019

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jis

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There was an agent (might have been two), but since you scan your own boarding pass there isn't really any reason for any interaction.
Yeah. Typically I don’t have to interact with anyone except at bag drop for checked baggage, until I am inside the plane, for domestic flights.

These days one gets to print and tag ones own bag. At bag drop they will check your id. If you have no checked bags that step is skipped.
 

chakk

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Yeah. Typically I don’t have to interact with anyone except at bag drop for checked baggage, until I am inside the plane, for domestic flights.

These days one gets to print and tag ones own bag. At bag drop they will check your id. If you have no checked bags that step is skipped.
what ever happened to cash being legal tender for all debts public and private?
 

jis

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Where did my message that you quoted mention any monetary transaction? Don't understand what triggered you into making that statement. Dropping a checked bag does not necessarily involve any exchange of money at that point. It might for some, but never does for me.

BTW, speaking of ticket office closure, apparently that is a big thing in France with SNCF closing ticket offices at an accelerating rate and redirecting all purchases to TVMs (of which they have zillions all around France) and the internet. Naturally people are not liking it that much and complaining. Saw this in an article in the September Issue of Today's Railways - Europe.
 

PVD

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Aside from JIS not mentioning payment, I want to point out that the concept of cash as legal tender is one of the most misunderstood terms out there. It does not obligate the acceptance of cash by a business (some localities have enacted laws requiring certain categories of businesses to do it) and I suggest anyone who thinks it means that do some online research.
 

seat38a

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Aside from JIS not mentioning payment, I want to point out that the concept of cash as legal tender is one of the most misunderstood terms out there. It does not obligate the acceptance of cash by a business (some localities have enacted laws requiring certain categories of businesses to do it) and I suggest anyone who thinks it means that do some online research.
Directly From The Treasury
Legal Tender Status

I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn't this illegal?

The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," which states: "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.
 
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PVD

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You are kinder than I. After going through the whole thing in various situations,and being told both I and the government are wrong I just tell people to look it up. Of course, I can think of many cases where I have believed the gov't to be wrong, and have participated in marches and protests as I believed appropriate. But not in this case, for sure!
 

seat38a

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You are kinder than I. After going through the whole thing in various situations,and being told both I and the government are wrong I just tell people to look it up. Of course, I can think of many cases where I have believed the gov't to be wrong, and have participated in marches and protests as I believed appropriate. But not in this case, for sure!
:D:D Naw I get sick and tired of hearing how not accepting cash is illegal. It is up to the States to decide which was taught to me in High School. Missouri even has a law that allows taxing authorities to explicitly say no to cash and other forms of payments. https://law.justia.com/codes/missouri/2013/title-x/chapter-139/section-139.040/

Even the IRS doesn't have to accept cash at all locations.
https://www.irs.gov/pub/lanoa/pmta01942_7439.pdf
 

lordsigma

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What bothers me about this sort of thing is that by removing staff you are removing services for passengers. The only stations where the only job of agents is to sell tickets are really big stations where there is dedicated red caps and baggage staff. For all others a lot of their job is not just selling tickets, it’s answering questions and helping passengers and assisting passengers with baggage and boarding. When they shrug it off and say it costs more than what is made in ticket sales that is ignoring a lot of the other services station staffing provide. Granted this is just a thruway stop and these passengers can still get staff assistance in Emeryville where they meet the train so I guess in this example it’s less of an issue but this is still my opinion.
 

chakk

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What bothers me about this sort of thing is that by removing staff you are removing services for passengers. The only stations where the only job of agents is to sell tickets are really big stations where there is dedicated red caps and baggage staff. For all others a lot of their job is not just selling tickets, it’s answering questions and helping passengers and assisting passengers with baggage and boarding. When they shrug it off and say it costs more than what is made in ticket sales that is ignoring a lot of the other services station staffing provide. Granted this is just a thruway stop and these passengers can still get staff assistance in Emeryville where they meet the train so I guess in this example it’s less of an issue but this is still my opinion.
Before this change, Passenger P could walk up to the ticket counter at the Temporary Transbay Terminal and purchase an Amtrak ticket from SFC to SAC, then board the bus to EMY to transfer to a train.

Now, when passenger walks up to the door of the bus at SFC and says to the driver, "I wish to purchase a ticket from SFC to RNO", will the driver reply, "Sorry, Bud. You can't board this bus without a ticket. And I don't sell tickets. You have to get yourself to the Emeryville station by some other means and purchase your ticket from the station agent there for your Amtrak trip to SAC."
 

seat38a

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God and I wonder how all the people who ride commuter rails such as Metrolink and Caltrain manage daily without an agent. o_O Some of you guys make Amtrak riders seem like stupid and helpless people. Metrolink only has people at Union Station. MetroRail subway in LA is all machines. Caltrain doesn't have people except at their headquarters yet people seem to manage.

Seniors and the poor also seem to manage perfectly fine on these other public transit systems which require much higher obstacles to obtain discounted or free passes than Amtrak does.

Also, Capitol Corridor trains sell ticket onboard and if you don't have a pre bought ticket, the bus driver WILL LET YOU ON. You have to temporarily surrender your ID to the bus driver. All listed in plain English here. https://www.capitolcorridor.org/tickets/

So if one is going from SF to EMY, which is where one goes to jump on the LD trains, without a ticket, then you surrender your ID until you get to the station and buy a ticket from the agent. And if you don't have an ID, then I don't understand how you thought you were going to buy a ticket from an agent anyway.
 
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PVD

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CC even sell Clipper Cards, BART Tickets, and MUNI Tokens in their cafe cars to make life simple....
 

Tom Booth

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Between the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins, Amtrak California runs 20 weekday round trips between San Francisco and Emeryville. There's no Amtrak staff at most train stations or at any thruway bus stop (other than SF) that's not a train station on those corridors, and people seem to figure it out. Amtrak runs three round trips (sorta) a day for the Starlights and the Zephyr between San Francisco and Oakland/Emeryville, and those make multiple stops, two of which are also unstaffed.

Why does Amtrak need to have staff to serve three departing buses a day, at just one of the stops?
Anyone traveling to points east, north or south would not have time to check bags in Emeryville or Oakland. That's why the Transbay checked baggage was useful. It operated with checked baggage until this year 2019, not 2015. I've used it many, many times. San Francisco is a major U.S. city and should have checked baggage options.
 

TiBike

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So if one is going from SF to EMY, which is where one goes to jump on the LD trains, without a ticket, then you surrender your ID until you get to the station and buy a ticket from the agent. And if you don't have an ID, then I don't understand how you thought you were going to buy a ticket from an agent anyway.
Sometimes the drivers don't even ask for a ticket or ID. I wouldn't count on that, but they're not Chicago-style gate dragons :).

Anyone traveling to points east, north or south would not have time to check bags in Emeryville or Oakland. That's why the Transbay checked baggage was useful. It operated with checked baggage until this year 2019, not 2015. I've used it many, many times. San Francisco is a major U.S. city and should have checked baggage options.
There's anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes of connection time built into the bus/long distance train connections at Emeryville and Jack London Square, and that's after a generous allowance for traffic delays in the bus schedule. The one time I had tight connection to the Zephyr at Emeryville, staff handled checked luggage and got everyone on board before the train left. And that was on a non-guaranteed connection from the Capitol Corridor. Even if Amtrak LD passengers can't fend for themselves as well as the average Metrolink or Caltrain customer, Amtrak staff will take care of them.
 

seat38a

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Sometimes the drivers don't even ask for a ticket or ID. I wouldn't count on that, but they're not Chicago-style gate dragons :).



There's anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes of connection time built into the bus/long distance train connections at Emeryville and Jack London Square, and that's after a generous allowance for traffic delays in the bus schedule. The one time I had tight connection to the Zephyr at Emeryville, staff handled checked luggage and got everyone on board before the train left. And that was on a non-guaranteed connection from the Capitol Corridor. Even if Amtrak LD passengers can't fend for themselves as well as the average Metrolink or Caltrain customer, Amtrak staff will take care of them.
As I figured, Amtrak/Capitol Corridor isn't leaving anyone in the lurch.
 

neroden

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Directly From The Treasury
Legal Tender Status

I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn't this illegal?

The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," which states: "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.
To make this very clear, since it's widely misunderstood:

If you receive goods or services *prior* to payment -- such as at a traditional sit-down restaurant -- you have incurred a debt, and so the seller (your creditor) must accept all cash. If you offer them a $100 bill and they refuse it, they've just forgiven your debt. Similarly, the IRS and state and county tax departments are absolutely obligated to accept cash.

(Missouri's statute cited earlier which claims that county tax collectors can refuse legal tender is unconstitutional and invalid, as it conflicts with federal law. The issue of legal tender was hashed out in court during the cannabis cases recently; cannabis businesses have been denied access to banks, so they have to operate in cash; the IRS tried to say that they didn't have to accept the cash payments for income tax, and was smacked down hard by the trial and appeals courts. Tax collectors *have* to accept cash, though they can tell you to go to a specific place to deposit it.)

By contrast, if a merchant demands payment *before* providing services or goods -- such as with almost anything which requires a "ticket" to get in -- they can demand payment in whatever form they like, including "nothing but uncut diamonds" or "nothing but Bitcoin" or "only Chinese yuan". If you don't provide payment, they don't provide the goods or services and you don't owe them anything (no debt incurred). This is one of many reasons why many merchants have shifted to prepayments.
 

desertflyer

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I haven't used the new service yet, but if you want to know why they're using the curbside stop, the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority's Marketing Manager got back to me. No response from Amtrak or the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.

Mr. Day:


Thank you for reaching out to the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. We value feedback from our riders, community, and stakeholders. I would like to respond to a few of your concerns below with some context and background. Our connection to San Francisco is important to the San Joaquins. We have not taken the situation at the current “Temporary Terminal” or the move out of the “Temporary Terminal” lightly. I assure you we have considered all options with our passengers in mind. We are keenly aware at SJJPA that our service serves a diverse set of passengers. This is not just a fact but a source of pride for our agency.


Unfortunately, the current “Temporary Terminal” location was not designed to be a long-term solution for its occupants but a temporary location while the Salesforce Transit Center was being constructed. As the Salesforce Transit Center was nearing completion and through the time since its initial opening SJJPA, CCJPA, and Amtrak have all been hard at work to negotiate a contract to lease space within the Transit Center. These efforts were hard fought, and we all hoped we could come to an agreement. This can be seen in our extended stay at the “Temporary Terminal” even beyond the initial opening of the Transit Center and continuing through current operations of the Transit Center. Recently, it became clear that these negotiations were not going to be successful in providing a space for our Thruway Service at a fair, reasonable, and predictable price. We are also out of time at the “Temporary Terminal”. This has caused us to look for other accommodations near the Transit Center to still accommodate those accessing our service through other public transportation providers.


Yes, we acknowledge the new on-street location does not include the amenities you mentioned – seating, shelter, or staff. But it is in close proximity to the terminal should passengers arrive early and need shelter while waiting for their scheduled departure. We have tried to make accommodations to the portions of this change under our control including, ensuring our bus drivers are prepared to help passengers load baggage at the on-street location, increasing the scheduled transfer time in Emeryville to allow passengers to check their bags, and bringing our Emeryville staff out-front to meet the busses with a type of “skycap” service to avoid waiting in line when arriving by Thruway.


SJJPA, CCJPA, and Amtrak all stand ready to pursue further discussions with the Salesforce Transit Center should they be willing to make the facility more cost effect for our services. We hope that through the measures outlined above that we can continue to provide an excellent connection from San Francisco to all Amtrak operated train services in California.


If I can answer any further questions or if you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.


Thank you.


David Lipari

Marketing Manager
I'm working with my elected officials to get a better response, to have a San Francisco stop that provides shelter and seating. This is especially important since state sponsored service is the majority of the daily service to SF. It looks like The Examiner may run a piece about the downgrades in service. I haven't heard back from The Chronicle yet.

Does anyone know when Amtrak started the transbay bus service? Was it back in 1971 or did it happen later? I'd be curious to know a bit more about the historical service.
 

railiner

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I haven't used the new service yet, but if you want to know why they're using the curbside stop, the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority's Marketing Manager got back to me. No response from Amtrak or the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.



I'm working with my elected officials to get a better response, to have a San Francisco stop that provides shelter and seating. This is especially important since state sponsored service is the majority of the daily service to SF. It looks like The Examiner may run a piece about the downgrades in service. I haven't heard back from The Chronicle yet.

Does anyone know when Amtrak started the transbay bus service? Was it back in 1971 or did it happen later? I'd be curious to know a bit more about the historical service.
It has been going on since the SP ended its transbay ferry service, and contracted with Western Greyhound to run buses from the Oakland station to the San Francisco station at 3rd and Townsend. There was a bus to meet all the principal trains serving Oakland. Santa Fe and Western Pacific did likewise, from either Oakland or Richmond to the Santa Fe 44 Fourth Street bus terminal, in Santa Fe operated buses, right up until the CZ or SFC ended service. When Amtrak started they continued the practice, using various contractor's over the years...
 

jccollins

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Thank you for posting the response from the SJJPA, and for taking the time to write to them as well as CCJPA and Amtrak. I wouldn't expect much reply from Amtrak, if any, and definitely not a detailed and thought out explanation like David Lipari gave us.

While the SJJPA clearly recognizes the importance of of a robust thruway feeder network,
the CCJPA has made it clear through their actions:

1. producing timetables that don't include thruway buses
2. suggesting that people transfer to BART at Richmond to get to SF
3. multiple day advance cancellations of the Reno and Tahoe-Sierras thruway routes at the first mention of inclement weather
4. regularly planning/scheduling inconvenient hour-plus train-bus connections at Sacramento
5. continuing to schedule the 130 mile Sacramento-Reno bus route as a 4+ hour trip rather than running a dedicated shuttle to/from each train to Roseville (where they have been planning 11 round trips/day since the last decade), and pursuing an interline or local bus operator to provide service from Sacramento to/from Rocklin and Auburn. Then the Reno thruway buses could run from Sacramento to Colfax, Truckee, Reno and Sparks competitively without all the extra time-slowing stops, and the route could easily sustain 5x/day frequency.
6. cutting thruway bus frequencies and/or service routes at any opportune moment (most of the previously heavily-used SF motorcoach stops such as Pier 39 now only have one or two arrivals/departures a day other than the Transit Terminal)
7. and now unstaffing the SF ticket office...yes, I blame this primarily on the CCJPA since their primarily commuter passengers on trains without checked baggage are the least likely to need station services)
8. etc, etc, etc. I can keep going here

that they only want to focus on their core San Jose-Oakland-Sacramento train route and totally disregard the benefits of the feeder buses. The CCJPA is great for the Capitol Corridor train route, has and does an excellent job managing the trains, but management appears to live in a bubble with total disregard for other connecting services which quite a few people need and utilize in addition to their trains. That is one thing I truly miss about the state-managed 'Amtrak California' of the 90's and 2000's.

Thank you for reaching out to the Chronicle and Examiner to see if they can cover the station closure and some of these issues. That was my hope of creating this post... to raise awareness of the ineffectiveness of one agency wielding too much power and the negative effects it has on intermodal transportation between the routes.

A single overseeing agency, such as the now all but dissolved Amtrak California, can really coordinate these services and connections and the result is rising ridership. The SJJPA clearly plays second fiddle to the CCJPA at their mutual Bay Area stations, but the San Joaquin and Amtrak long-distance passengers - those that need the assistance from an agent for ticketing or baggage services, are the ones now taking the biggest hit.
 

TiBike

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CCJPA has made it clear through their actions:

1. producing timetables that don't include thruway buses
BS:

https://images.capitolcorridor.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Bus_Schedules_10.28.19.pdf

2. suggesting that people transfer to BART at Richmond to get to SF
That's the fastest and most reliable way to do it. Except for the super secret Amtrak Transbay Tube.

3. multiple day advance cancellations of the Reno and Tahoe-Sierras thruway routes at the first mention of inclement weather
I-80 has the same problem, but yeah, since they're using the super secret Trans Sierra Tunnel, CCJPA is just messing with us.

4. regularly planning/scheduling inconvenient hour-plus train-bus connections at Sacramento
When I took the Ambus from Reno to Sacto last month, I appreciated the half day in Sacto the schedule allowed for me to do business.

5. continuing to schedule the 130 mile Sacramento-Reno bus route as a 4+ hour trip rather than running a dedicated shuttle to/from each train to Roseville (where they have been planning 11 round trips/day since the last decade), and pursuing an interline or local bus operator to provide service from Sacramento to/from Rocklin and Auburn. Then the Reno thruway buses could run from Sacramento to Colfax, Truckee, Reno and Sparks competitively without all the extra time-slowing stops, and the route could easily sustain 5x/day frequency.
Whisky Tango Foxtrot? There's one westbound and one eastbound trip to Roseville (and on to Auburn) each day. When they're done planning for 11 roundtrips, get back to me.

6. cutting thruway bus frequencies and/or service routes at any opportune moment (most of the previously heavily-used SF motorcoach stops such as Pier 39 now only have one or two arrivals/departures a day other than the Transit Terminal)
Yeah. Totally sucks that they do something like that in a highly compact area with dense public bus and light rail service. (I'm a North Beach native -- don't tell Grandpa how to suck eggs).

7. and now unstaffing the SF ticket office...yes, I blame this primarily on the CCJPA since their primarily commuter passengers on trains without checked baggage are the least likely to need station services)
Atomically sucks that CCJPA focuses on serving their customers, instead of Amtrak's long distance passengers.

8. etc, etc, etc. I can keep going here
Please do. All the way to Omaha, please.
 
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seat38a

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BS:
Yeah. Totally sucks that they do something like that in a highly compact area with dense public bus and light rail service. (I'm a North Beach native -- don't tell Grandpa how to suck eggs).
I didn't think San Francisco had any "tough straight shooting" people left. I thought everyone was too fragile. :D:D:D Careful someone might get offended.
 

Michigan Mom

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Granted it's often easy to confuse me but this is just crazy accounting. Do they really base the staffing justifications on the revenue from tickets sold at a station? What a shady reason for cutting personnel and closing stations. It should be based on the numbers of people boarding... period! The purchase of a ticket should come with the expectation of a safe place, indoors, out of the elements to wait for a train... and hear announcements.
 

the_traveler

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I agree!

As a case in point, I’ll use Plattsburgh, NY. They do not have a ticket agent anymore, but it’s staffed by volunteers. It has an indoor waiting room (nice when it is 0°F and snowing), about 10-15 seats, rest rooms and the host keeps in contact letting those waiting know that the Adirondack has left the border (about 30 minutes north).
 
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