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Any parents allowing minors to ride alone?

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Mjg

Joined
Jan 15, 2013
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Looking for experiences regarding their child riding alone between Fresno and bakersfield with Amtrak. I suppose I am asking how safe it is and how responsible the employee/ chaperones are. Yes, my son is behaves/mannered, but 13. Thank you.
 
G

Guest

Guest
First, let me say, there are no Amtrak provided chaperons that I know of.

Its been years, and on a different Amtrak train, but we use to do just that. One of us would put our kid, personally, onto the train at one station, and the other waited right on the platform at the other station. We just had to trust him to not get off anywhere else, for any reason.
 

VentureForth

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AmtrakBlue

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Unaccompanied Minors

Booking Tickets for Unaccompanied Minors

To make reservations for unaccompanied minors you must call us at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). You may not book reservations for unaccompanied minors on Amtrak.com.

Children age 12 and under may not travel unaccompanied. They must travel with another person who is at least 18 years old (see *exception below).

Children 13, 14 and 15 years old may travel unaccompanied in accordance with the Amtrak Unaccompanied Minor Policy, which includes the following conditions:

  • Travel is permitted only on Amtrak trains. Travel is not permitted on Thruway motorcoach service, or on any other connecting services.
  • Both boarding and arrival stations must be staffed. (Please note that even certain staffed stations do not allow for unaccompanied minors.)
  • All travel must take place on the same day between 5:30 am and 9:05 pm. Overnight travel is not allowed.
  • No transfers of any kind are permitted.
  • All travel must be within the United States. Unaccompanied minors may not cross the US-Canadian border.
  • Both boarding and arrival stations must be staffed.
  • For each unaccompanied minor traveling alone, the adult (at least 18 years old) bringing the child to the departure station must complete and sign a release form. Both the adult and the minor must be at the boarding station at least 1 hour before the train’s departure time.
  • The child must be interviewed by station personnel to determine if the child is capable of traveling alone.
  • The child must wear an Amtrak issued wristband for the duration of travel.
  • The adult must remain at the station until the train has departed.
  • Upon arrival, an adult (at least 18 years old) must be present to pick up the child. The adult must display valid current identification meeting the Amtrak ID policies.
  • Children traveling alone are not entitled to a children's discount; full adult fares are charged.
  • Tickets for unaccompanied children may not be purchased online.
  • The unaccompanied child may not have any life-threatening food allergies.
  • Because there are not at least two staffed stations along several routes, unaccompanied minors may not travel between any stations on the Downeaster (Boston, MA - Portland, ME), Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City, OK - Fort Worth, TX) and Pere Marquette (Chicago, IL - Grand Rapids, MI).

Children 16 and over may travel without restriction.

*Exception: A minor who is 16 or 17, who is a parent to children of any age, may bring those children without restriction. The 16- or 17-year-old must bring proof that he or she is the parent of the children.

If a group of children are traveling, and some are 16-17, some are 13-15, and some are under 13:

  • The 16-17 year olds may travel without restriction.
  • The 13-15 year olds must travel as unaccompanied minors because no one is 18 or over. The Unaccompanied Minor Policy applies.
  • The children under 13 may not travel because no one is 18 or over. The Unaccompanied Minor Policy applies.

What else should I do before buying tickets for unaccompanied minors?

It is extremely important to make sure that every segment of the unaccompanied child's trip can be accommodated before completing travel plans, purchasing a ticket, and arriving at the station. Additional restrictions may apply. Please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) for further details.
 

cirdan

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I travelled alone when I was 12 and didn't think much of it. That was about 30 years ago though, and I suppose things have changed.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I was traveling around the country by myself at the ripe old age of eight regardless of time or connections. I wonder why Amtrak requires unaccompanied minors to be double that age to travel at night or connect to another train. I guess it's just more catering to the needs of the clueless and irrational at the expense of the calm and educated. I'm amused by the concept that a parent at the age of sixteen (!) can bring their offspring along but a big brother or sister that isn't careless enough to even have children at that age is barred from serving as a chaperon. I also loved the idea of "protecting" children by kicking them off the train in the middle of nowhere. Amtrak's policy regarding children may make perfect sense against the backdrop of a legal system run amok, but in any other context it's nuts.
 
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G

Guest

Guest
There was a case in Washinton State last year where a few GOOD kids, 15, 15 & 16 were travelling alone and they were actually KICKED OFF THE TRAIN at a place that was between their departure and arrival station.
Much more likely to be a case of otherwise good kids, acting very poorly on the train. Otherwise, they would not have even been noticed.
 

Karl1459

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One of my memories is traveling alone (pre A day) when I was probably 9, 10 or 11 or so. Boarded at Seattle for Portland and had a great time in coach and in a dome car. Likely the UP pool train as there was a open sleeper I walked through (open compartments, dark, and lots of canvas).

Unfortunatly with todays paranoia and lawsuit atmosphere Amtrak would be foolish to allow it. Have a kid get off at the wrong station, or worse with someone they are not supposed to we are looking at 4 hours of tieing up the system searching, then the media and lawyers get involved.

Airlines do have an advantage as they can keep the kid cooped up in a closed room and an assigned seat with more or less constant visual obversation.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Airlines do have an advantage as they can keep the kid cooped up in a closed room and an assigned seat with more or less constant visual obversation.
Back in the 70's my then 5? year old niece was supposed to wait for the flight attendant to escort her off the plane where my parents and I were waiting. She apparently did not want to wait and luckily we saw her walk through the jetway door w/o her escort. So, planes are not 100% fool proof when it comes to sending minors alone. But, yes, they're a lot safer than trains.
 

cirdan

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Airlines do have an advantage as they can keep the kid cooped up in a closed room and an assigned seat with more or less constant visual obversation.
Back in the 70's my then 5? year old niece was supposed to wait for the flight attendant to escort her off the plane where my parents and I were waiting. She apparently did not want to wait and luckily we saw her walk through the jetway door w/o her escort. So, planes are not 100% fool proof when it comes to sending minors alone. But, yes, they're a lot safer than trains.
Something similar happened to me. The attendant told me to wait here and I waited for ages (at least in the perception of a small child) and she didn't come back so I walked away by myself. My mother, who was picking me up, was quite surprised to see me by myself and alarmed that I wasn't being taken closer care of. I also had two bottles of red wine in my bag that were a present to my parents from the people I'd been staying with. I can imagine the uproar that would have caused today.
 

fairviewroad

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Under 16, NO GO. There was a case in Washinton State last year where a few GOOD kids, 15, 15 & 16 were travelling alone and they were actually KICKED OFF THE TRAIN at a place that was between their departure and arrival station. Don't try it. 16 is the age. Period.
As the post #4 in this thread shows, this statement is simply incorrect. A 13-year-old CAN travel unaccompanied under the guidelines set

by Amtrak. Since both Fresno and Bakersfield are staffed stations, and Amtrak offers multiple daily trains in either direction during the allowable

hours, this should be no problem provided you follow all of the other guidelines. If you live near the departing station, I'd suggest simply going to

the station prior to the day of travel to confirm everything with the station agent. But it's not rocket science, as people do this all the time. It's very

common to see unaccompanied minors on corridor services.
 
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VentureForth

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You are right, for sure. The point I missed was with regards to the staffed station to board and disembark. Clearly the teens in my original example didn't follow the 12-step procedure in triplicate and deserved to get tossed off at a strange station.
 

PacificStarlight

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I'm 15 and I've traveled alone, I can pass for 16 most people mistake me for older because the way I look and behave. 13 may be cutting it close though.
 

George Harris

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now in California
Does the kid have a cell phone? That should make all involved feet better about the trip. It is obvious from the third answer that the kid and the location meets all requirements. Also, it is just about goof proof as Bakersfield is the terminal station for the train. The trip is also very short, being only two hours. Being a somewhat regular passenger between Emeryville and Fresno, I can say these trains are very reliable and I would consider very safe. I would go for it if it were mine.
 

xyzzy

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Reminds me that when I was 10, I took a solo trip on the L&N from Montgomery to Mobile (about 3.5 hours). My mother was hesitant, and she spied a group of nuns boarding the same train -- presumably on their way to New Orleans for something. She asked the nuns to keep an eye on me. And they did, about every 10 minutes. It got to be funny for them and for me.
 

jphjaxfl

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I started traveling alone by train prior to Amtrak when I was 10 back in 1959. My Dad would take me to the station, help me find a seat and stay with me til the All Visitors Off announcement. Some one would meet me at my destination. I even did overnight in a roomette. My Dad introduced me to the attendant and tipped him nicely to look after me and that he did. I always met someone interesting to talk to. Never had any problems. By the time I was 14, I was planning my own train trips. In 1964, 3 high school buddies and I did a train trip from Hot Springs, AR to the NYC area. We stayed with one kids Grand Parents in CT and went to the New York Worlds Fair. Great time! Glad I was able to do it.
 
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Nathanael

Guest
So I suppose a 5-year-old could escort a senile 95-year-old grandmother without violating this policy.

Overprotectiveness of children turned into byzantine rules. I'm a believer in free-range children myself.
 

Devil's Advocate

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So I suppose a 5-year-old could escort a senile 95-year-old grandmother without violating this policy.

Overprotectiveness of children turned into byzantine rules. I'm a believer in free-range children myself.
Statistically children are much safer now than when I was a child, and yet somehow we're more convinced than ever that strangers are lurking in every shadow and around every corner to steal and abuse kids. Friends and family who are in unsupervised contact with our children on a regular basis? Nah, we're not worried about them. It's the invisible boogieman that we'd much rather worry about, statistics be damned.
 
P

peremichel

Guest
I took the Wolverine to Royal Oak Christmas Eve. There was a girl traveling unaccompanied that must have been about 13-14. She was brought down to the train with her Mom who was dropping her off, the train crew signed the release as well and she was put on the train. Everyone was really nice to her and was joking around with her. She was dropped off in Dearborn, MI. Both her father and the station agent were waiting. After a couple more signatures, she was off to enjoy the holiday. Seemed like a simple and reasonable process.
 

me_little_me

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Reminds me that when I was 10, I took a solo trip on the L&N from Montgomery to Mobile (about 3.5 hours). My mother was hesitant, and she spied a group of nuns boarding the same train -- presumably on their way to New Orleans for something. She asked the nuns to keep an eye on me. And they did, about every 10 minutes. It got to be funny for them and for me.
That wasn't a train. It was a stagecoach.
 

EMDF9A

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Oct 24, 2011
Messages
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I attended boarding school in Wisconsin as a child, all the way through highschool. I travelled unaccompanied on both the Builder and NCH between LaCrosse and Seattle during that time. I have fond memories of travelling pre AMTRAK on the NCL, though it was always with a parent.

The incident in Washington was about a year ago. Three girls going from Olympia to Portland to celebrate one's birthday. Olympia is not an AMTRAK staffed station (Its all volunteers) and the parents had no idea about the unaccompanied minor policy. The train left Oly and the conductor collected tickets. He asked the girls how old they were, and they politely answered truthfully. One was under 16. The next stop was Centralia and the conductor put the under age girl off at that stop. The other 2 chose to go with their friend. The mistake in this situation was the station agent "was too busy" to deal with this issue, and he/she had a lot of head end work and was going off shift, so the girls werent properly handed off to a responsible party. They wandered around downton Centralia for a few hours before one of the sets of parents were able to get there & pick them up.
 

KWBud

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The incident in Washington was about a year ago. Three girls going from Olympia to Portland to celebrate one's birthday. Olympia is not an AMTRAK staffed station (Its all volunteers) and the parents had no idea about the unaccompanied minor policy. The train left Oly and the conductor collected tickets. He asked the girls how old they were, and they politely answered truthfully. One was under 16. The next stop was Centralia and the conductor put the under age girl off at that stop. The other 2 chose to go with their friend. The mistake in this situation was the station agent "was too busy" to deal with this issue, and he/she had a lot of head end work and was going off shift, so the girls werent properly handed off to a responsible party. They wandered around downton Centralia for a few hours before one of the sets of parents were able to get there & pick them up.
This is positively incredible. I could easily understand Amtrak denying the underage girl passage. However once she was aboard the train, she was in the custody of Amtrak. By putting her off at an intermediate stop, the conductor put her into a potentially dangerous situation that she may well have not been prepared for. Remember that she is a minor.

After Amtrak had made the mistake of allowing the girl passage, it would seem to me that when the conductor discovered the situation, they would then be bound to ensure the girl's safe passage to her final destination.

It seems to me that Amtrak is lucky that they aren't being sued because of this. If Amtrak (or the conductor) wanted to do something about the situation, they should deal with either the person who put them on the train or the ticket agent who sold the ticket.

--

Bud
 

Bob Dylan

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Back in the Old Days Pre-Amtrak, I rode many times in Coach, Lounge and Roomettes on the SP, Santa Fe,

Katy and MoPac! The Conductors, Attendants and Station Agents seemed alot more Friendly towards Kids and I don't recall having any problems Traveling on LD Trains! Guess that U-Tube Video of Johnnny riding the Chief/Super Chief from Chicago to Lamy wouldnt be an effective Marketing Tool Now! (or even Possible since it involved Overnight Travel!)
 
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Devil's Advocate

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It seems to me that Amtrak is lucky that they aren't being sued because of this. If Amtrak (or the conductor) wanted to do something about the situation, they should deal with either the person who put them on the train or the ticket agent who sold the ticket.
How do you know Amtrak isn't being sued?

If this were my kid I'd be suing Amtrak right now. Not for a large cash payout, in fact my request for damages wouldn't exceed the legal fees, but I would want to set a precedent that counteracts whatever stupid idiotic policy "protects" a child by kicking her off the train in the middle of her trip.
 
Joined
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Statistically children are much safer now than when I was a child, and yet somehow we're more convinced than ever that strangers are lurking in every shadow and around every corner to steal and abuse kids. Friends and family who are in unsupervised contact with our children on a regular basis? Nah, we're not worried about them. It's the invisible boogieman that we'd much rather worry about, statistics be damned.
This is a good post making an excellent point.

I traveled on the Rock Island and the Santa Fe in Illinois by myself when I was between 12-18 during the 70s. No problem. Our kids have taken trips on Amtrak while under 18 by themselves and together, including overnighters. They've had a great time. I wouldn't worry about sending a well behaved 13 year old child between Fresno and Bakersfield.
 
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