Amtrak Quietly Closing San Francisco Ticket Office eff Oct 28th

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jccollins

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I haven't seen this posted elsewhere, but it appears that Amtrak is shuttering their ticket office at the San Francisco Transbay Temporary Terminal (SFC) effective with the close of business on Sunday, October 27th in favor of an "on-street unstaffed stop" nearby the Salesforce Center:

https://www.capitolcorridor.org/whats-new/transbay-temporary-terminal-bus-stop-relocating-to-salesforce-plaza-on-mission-street-near-fremont-street-on-monday-october-28/

Amtrak had already discontinued checked baggage service to/from San Francisco (SFC) in 2015 with their move from the Ferry Building Ticket Office over to the Transbay Temporary Terminal. They also discontinued baggage storage services at that time in 2015. Presumably this was done to save on staffing costs at the ticket office at the time.
 
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railiner

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Just curious... can anyone recall any other staffed “Thruway Bus only” station anywhere else in the country, besides San Francisco?

I am not including the various “City Ticket Offices” that existed at one time...
 

RebelRider

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Just curious... can anyone recall any other staffed “Thruway Bus only” station anywhere else in the country, besides San Francisco?

I am not including the various “City Ticket Offices” that existed at one time...
Clearwater/St. Petersburg (STP) is a staffed thruway stop. Has buses to/from ORL to connect with 97/98 and to/from TPA connecting to 91/92.
 

PVD

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Isn't this actually a Joint Powers call, and not Amtrak? It's easy to point the finger at them since they've done this themselves in many places, but this one might not be their call.
 
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yarrow

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since you can't in any convenient way get to sf from the north via amtrak and must bus across the bay from emeryville, which in my experience many people do, it seems to me that amtrak could staff a stop in sf.
Clearwater/St. Petersburg (STP) is a staffed thruway stop. Has buses to/from ORL to connect with 97/98 and to/from TPA connecting to 91/92.
in
 

jccollins

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Isn't this actually a Joint Powers call, and not Amtrak? It's easy to point the finger at them since they've done this themselves in many places, but this one might not be their call.
I don't believe so. Ticketing and baggage service (was until 2015) is offered to passengers connecting with the California Zephyr and Coast Starlight as well, neither of which are under JPA operations.

When Amtrak decided to no longer handle checked baggage at SFC in 2015, they just scheduled earlier thruway bus departure times from SFC to force passengers to check luggage at EMY or OKJ during longer connection times in those locations. This lengthened overall trip durations and put the burden of handling luggage on the passengers, but started paving the way for the ticket office closure they are now doing.
 

desertflyer

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As a resident of San Francisco, this is just about the worst possible outcome of Amtrak's San Francisco move. This stop is unsheltered, no seating, and completely exposed to the elements. Checked baggage is one thing - bus drivers tend to be very helpful with that - but not giving someone a place to sit and stay dry or warm is just flat out not okay. I'll be making a lot of noise about this to my state reps since this in a stop for Amtrak long distance, Capitol Corridor, and San Joaquin service.



Public transit is improving and growing in California, so this especially galling.
 

Willbridge

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Just curious... can anyone recall any other staffed “Thruway Bus only” station anywhere else in the country, besides San Francisco?

I am not including the various “City Ticket Offices” that existed at one time...
Way back, Amtrak had some legacy bus-only agencies. Here's evidence from December 1975.

IMG0026 Atk Madison.jpg
 

Dakota 400

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My SFO experience was arriving at the Ferry Building after leaving a very late arriving CZ. Bus transfer from Emeryville with checked luggage went well. The Ticket Office at that location was closed and dark, no taxis available and no cell phone for me. (It was around 10:00-10:30 P. M.) Fortunately, a restaurant nearby was open. Dragging my luggage with me, I went to the establishment and asked if they could call for a taxi which they did.

I am still "upset" the Ticket Office was closed. They should have remained open to service--as needed--the passengers arriving at that location because the train was so late.
 

ParanoidAndroid

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When I visited the Salesforce Transit Center in August when it opened, what I assumed to be an Amtrak and Greyhound waiting area on the west side of the structure (2nd floor) was under construction. One of the maps in the transit center showed Amtrak & Greyhound stopping on the 3rd floor bus bay area near a flight of stairs that go up from the waiting area. I'm hoping Amtrak will move in there, and the SFC stop will be restaffed when that happens. The under-construction waiting area and stop on the 3rd floor is so far west, it'll be closer to the Montgomery Street BART station (a 5 minute walk!) rather than Embarcadero.
 
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TiBike

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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?
 
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Rasputin

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Why does Amtrak need to have staff to serve three departing buses a day, at just one of the stops?
I don't have a good understanding of how Amtrak operates the bus service to San Francisco but I guess it is sort of nice and helpful to have a staffed location at the primary stop in San Francisco unless nobody goes there anymore.
 
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Few points when I asked a member of the CC JPA:

- The JPA obviously wanted to run the buses into the new Salesforce Transit Center but the roadblock that came up was how much the transit center authority was asking for insurance. The price was astronomical according to the person I talked to and was enough to cut off negotiations for a bus stop inside the center indefinitely. He said the move inside the terminal may happen in the future but not any time soon.

- He also explained that having the Amtrak bus stop on the street allowed easier access for buses coming from other stops in SF, such as Fishermans Wharf and the Financial District. Buses coming into the transit center generally come directly from the freeway and leave thru the same way, whereas Amtrak buses make other stops in the city thus favoring a stop on the street.

-In regards to the closing ticket office, he essentially shrugged and noted that the cost of running it outweighed how many people actually purchased tickets there. Its a familiar tale we've seen throughout the country.
 
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Qapla

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In regards to the closing ticket office, he essentially shrugged and noted that the cost of running it outweighed how many people actually purchased tickets there. It's a familiar tale we've seen throughout the country.
As more and more people buy online - Amtrak is not the only place facing this situation
 

jloewen

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As more and more people buy online - Amtrak is not the only place facing this situation
Astoundingly, I was recently at DCA (Washington National Airport) facing a canceled flight and tried to book on a different airline, only to learn that said airline (United, as I recall, but perhaps American) no longer sold ticket at the airport! You HAVE to buy them on line or on the phone! Among other things, this ends sales for cash, which hurts poor people, who have no credit cards. Also, isn't it bizarre? They have LOTS of agents, but not one sells tickets?
 

SubwayNut

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Astoundingly, I was recently at DCA (Washington National Airport) facing a canceled flight and tried to book on a different airline, only to learn that said airline (United, as I recall, but perhaps American) no longer sold ticket at the airport! You HAVE to buy them on line or on the phone! Among other things, this ends sales for cash, which hurts poor people, who have no credit cards. Also, isn't it bizarre? They have LOTS of agents, but not one sells tickets?
What's funny in the airline industry is that for the ULLCs Frontier, Spirit, and Allegiant tickets are actually cheaper when purchased at the airport. This is for tax reasons, these airlines charge a Passenger usage fee or Electronic Carrier Usage Charge that's between $13.00 and $19.00 for a one-way segment, the only way not to pay this is to go to the airport and buy in person, I've done this every time Ive flow allegiant at our a little airport in South Bend, and saved $60 on two round trip tickets.

The reason these airlines do it is because they dont have to pay the Federal Excise Tax on these fees, just the base fare since you have the option to go to the airport and not pay it.
 

RSG

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Among other things, this ends sales for cash, which hurts poor people, who have no credit cards. Also, isn't it bizarre? They have LOTS of agents, but not one sells tickets?
While I understand what you're saying, there's not a corporate business in existence now who wants to deal with cash transactions. This is particularly true in the travel business. Cash is expensive to handle, transport and account for [side note: this is sometimes given as the reason--often whispered--for why Amtrak's food service is not profitable]. In addition, large cash purchases are treated with suspicion. Pay for an airline ticket with cash, particularly a one-way ticket, and see how quickly you are not able to speed through the airport on to the plane.

As for those without credit cards, fortunately it's not 1980 anymore. One of the biggest side businesses financial institutions have is selling stored value cards, including prepaid and gift cards. Usually they can be bought with cash at department, grocery, and drug stores. True, it's not quite as easy as just showing up at a ticket counter with a wad of cash, but it eliminates a lot of hassle for the carriers. And these days, they are all about eliminating hassle for them.
 

seat38a

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While I understand what you're saying, there's not a corporate business in existence now who wants to deal with cash transactions. This is particularly true in the travel business. Cash is expensive to handle, transport and account for [side note: this is sometimes given as the reason--often whispered--for why Amtrak's food service is not profitable]. In addition, large cash purchases are treated with suspicion. Pay for an airline ticket with cash, particularly a one-way ticket, and see how quickly you are not able to speed through the airport on to the plane.

As for those without credit cards, fortunately it's not 1980 anymore. One of the biggest side businesses financial institutions have is selling stored value cards, including prepaid and gift cards. Usually they can be bought with cash at department, grocery, and drug stores. True, it's not quite as easy as just showing up at a ticket counter with a wad of cash, but it eliminates a lot of hassle for the carriers. And these days, they are all about eliminating hassle for them.
At the gate at Kansas City airport, I saw something like this happen. A passenger did not have any CC or debit card so she was forced to buy a pre loaded card to pay for her luggage fee since she had basic economy and there's no free anything with that including gate check. She paid a hefty fee for that card from what I overheard.
 
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keelhauled

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They have LOTS of agents, but not one sells tickets?
They have very few agents, really. A couple (or fewer) at a bag drop, and a roving agent for people who need help with check in/bag tag kiosks is all I ever see these days. When I flew out of Logan last month, I said "thank you" to the person who grabbed my checked bag, and that was the only interaction I had with a United employee until the flight attendant asked me what I wanted to drink.
 

RSG

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When I flew out of Logan last month, I said "thank you" to the person who grabbed my checked bag, and that was the only interaction I had with a United employee until the flight attendant asked me what I wanted to drink.
No gate agent, even?
 
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