Disobedience on Amtrak

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Eric in East County

Service Attendant
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Jan 20, 2016
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203
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East San Diego County
The only incident of gross misbehavior that we personally witnessed on board an Amtrak train occurred in July 2017 when we were heading back to San Diego on a Pacific Surfliner.

Just outside of Fullerton, we heard a loud voice coming from the café in the lower level of our coach. Shortly afterwards a loudmouth, belligerent man came up from below and took the seat directly behind us. Just outside of Anaheim, he got into an argument with the conductor when asked to show his ticket. The conductor handled the situation well and the loudmouth (who was probably drunk) eventually produced a ticket for a passage from Oxnard to Los Angeles, where he had failed to detrain! Fortunately, the conductor was able to hustle him off the train at Anaheim without further incident.

Eric & Pat
 

WICT106

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 8, 2003
Messages
847
Location
Wisconsin
I've witnessed a small number of incidents which resulted in the removal of one or more passengers from train. All except one involved the misuse of alcoholic beverages. When I mentioned this to a train crewman aboard the Empire Builder in 2019, he responded that he would rather not sell booze aboard the train, as there were more than enough notorious incidents involving drunken passengers during his time with Amtrak. The train crew detest dealing with drunks.
 

dlagrua

Conductor
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Nov 24, 2009
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Hillsborough, NJ
Handling incidents of bad behavior is far easier on the train. In the rare event of fisticuffs the LD train has many more employees to help out. The majority of them are male and not always small. On the regionals they would have a conductor or two, and the one food service guy but they have enough personnel to get the job done. We have seen a number of incidents of misbehavior but the passengers involved all backed down. Some of the onboard staff take their job very seriously so the rule is don't **** them off. On on trip a conductor came on the PA system and said "if you are caught smoking, you will be put off the train, without further warning".!
 
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Ziv

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Oct 25, 2011
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807
It may be a Federal requirement in certain places but here in eastern Maryland masks are pretty much a thing of the past. At the hardware store, grocery, three cafes, two parks, pool supply store and the library the masks were optional and rare. Wells Fargo bank was the only place masks were required. Harris Teeter grocery was about evenly divided between maskers and non-maskers but the rest were nearly mask-free.
Which may be a bit early. Only 52% (that number was 45.2% 30 days ago) of the US population has gotten at least one jab and approximately 25% (?) have had Covid so maybe 64%’ish of the US has the antibodies needed…

The mask requirement is a Federal reg, effective through September 13th. Not much to do with Amtrak's contract of carriage other than what I presume is an agreement to follow Amtrak policies and relevant regulations.

As far as the contract of carriage is concerned, I find the mandatory arbitration much more concerning than an agreement to follow policies and regulations.
 

Exvalley

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Jul 7, 2020
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641
I wonder what Amtrak does if a passenger commits a crime in one state but the next stop is in another state?

For example, a passenger assaults a conductor after the eastbound Empire Builder leaves Wolf Point, Montana but before it reaches the North Dakota Border. If they kick the passenger off at Williston, North Dakota, I don't see how the local police in Williston would have any authority to detain the passenger for breaking a Montana state law - assuming (safely) that Montana has not issued an arrest warrant in that short a period of time.

The train can always stop prior to the border and meet local police in the state where the crime occurred.

If they can't do that, local police are usually able to arrest someone for committing a federal crime, so I assume that the local police in North Dakota would be able to make an arrest based on that authority. Presumably there is a federal law that makes it a federal crime to engage in a criminal act on Amtrak.
 
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lizpackslight

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2021
Messages
16
Location
Alabama
Amtrak has put people off for outright refusal to abide by the mask policy and belligerence related to it. I heard about an auto train that discharged a belligerent passenger at Jacksonville station for refusing to abide by the mask policy.
They are super clear about the mask requirement and diligent about reminding people. I embarassed myself by walking into the dining car without mine once, and the attendant hollered down the car, "Gotta have your mask!" I said, "Oh, shoot!" and wheeled around to go get it, and everyone in the car laughed. 😷
 

Steve4031

Conductor
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Chicago
I was a obnoxious teenage rail fan back in the 1980s. When I was in the 8th grade, 1980, I rode the Rio Grande Zephyr between Denver and Salt Lake City and back with my Dad. I enjoyed hours in the dome car and in between the cars with the Dutch door open as we rolled through the canyons. The crew did not appear to mind. I saw other adult rail fans opening the Dutch door. I learned how to open the top half by watching them.

When Amtrak rerouted the CZ over the D&RGW I eagerly anticipated my next trip where I could open the window on the Superliner cars. The safety culture changed from my trip in 1980. I was slow to catch on. I started off the day opening the window in my coach. When the attendant scolded me I moved to another car. I got scolded a second time. I continued the cat and mouse game for most of the day until mid-afternoon.

Then the Onboard Service Chief sat me down and explained that the conductor had had enough of my shenanigans. He told me the next time I was caught opening the window I would be put off the train.

I was traveling by myself. I really enjoyed these Solo summer trips that my dad paid for with the All Aboard America fare. I was embarrassed that I had annoyed people whose jobs I admired. So that ended my days of Dutch door opening.
 

zephyr17

Conductor
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Jul 22, 2009
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4,500
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Washington State
It may be a Federal requirement in certain places but here in eastern Maryland masks are pretty much a thing of the past. At the hardware store, grocery, three cafes, two parks, pool supply store and the library the masks were optional and rare. Wells Fargo bank was the only place masks were required. Harris Teeter grocery was about evenly divided between maskers and non-maskers but the rest were nearly mask-free.
Which may be a bit early. Only 52% (that number was 45.2% 30 days ago) of the US population has gotten at least one jab and approximately 25% (?) have had Covid so maybe 64%’ish of the US has the antibodies needed…
The Federal mask requirement only applies to interstate transportation, airlines, buses, and Amtrak. Other mask requirements are local regulations, locally enforced. Here in Western Washington the state and local rules are now the fully vaccinated can go without masks. However, mask compliance always has been very high here, and most people remain masked, despite well over 40% of the over 16 population are now fully vaccinated (2shots + 2 weeks). Well over 60% have had their first dose.

You are conflating different things, an absolute Federal mask requirement that applies to a very, very limited range of things within Federal purview, interstate transportation, and general mask requirements which are under state police power and vary widely.
 
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Barb Stout

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Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
789
I wonder what Amtrak does if a passenger commits a crime in one state but the next stop is in another state?

For example, a passenger assaults a conductor after the eastbound Empire Builder leaves Wolf Point, Montana but before it reaches the South Dakota Border. If they kick the passenger off at Williston, South Dakota, I don't see how the local police in Williston would have any authority to detain the passenger for breaking a Montana state law - assuming (safely) that Montana has not issued an arrest warrant in that short a period of time.

The train can always stop prior to the border and meet local police in the state where the crime occurred.

If they can't do that, local police are usually able to arrest someone for committing a federal crime, so I assume that the local police in South Dakota would be able to make an arrest based on that authority. Presumably there is a federal law that makes it a federal crime to engage in a criminal act on Amtrak.
North Dakota, not South Dakota.

Amtrak trains and train stations are considered under the Federal system, so I too imagine any crime committed on Federal property would/could be prosecuted as Federal crimes. And local law enforcement usually cooperate in these matters. Leos and lawyers or other knowledgeable people can correct me if I'm wrong.
 

John Bredin

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Joined
Dec 18, 2007
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832
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suburban Chicago (Deerfield)
The Federal mask requirement only applies to interstate transportation, airlines, buses, and Amtrak. Other mask requirements are local regulations, locally enforced. Here in Western Washington the state and local rules are now the fully vaccinated can go without masks. However, mask compliance always has been very high here, and most people remain masked, despite well over 40% of the over 16 population are now fully vaccinated (2shots + 2 weeks). Well over 60% have had their first dose.

You are conflating different things, an absolute Federal mask requirement that applies to a very, very limited range of things within Federal purview, interstate transportation, and general mask requirements which are under state police power and vary widely.
Generally agree with your posting, with one nitpick: federally-funded transit is also covered by the federal mask mandate, not just interstate transportation. Illinois is following the CDC guidance, mask required only for those not fully vaccinated (and where local ordinance or a landowner requires it), but Metra and CTA are requiring mask-wearing by all passengers.
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
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Mar 30, 2019
Messages
933
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Denver
I was a obnoxious teenage rail fan back in the 1980s. When I was in the 8th grade, 1980, I rode the Rio Grande Zephyr between Denver and Salt Lake City and back with my Dad. I enjoyed hours in the dome car and in between the cars with the Dutch door open as we rolled through the canyons. The crew did not appear to mind. I saw other adult rail fans opening the Dutch door. I learned how to open the top half by watching them.

When Amtrak rerouted the CZ over the D&RGW I eagerly anticipated my next trip where I could open the window on the Superliner cars. The safety culture changed from my trip in 1980. I was slow to catch on. I started off the day opening the window in my coach. When the attendant scolded me I moved to another car. I got scolded a second time. I continued the cat and mouse game for most of the day until mid-afternoon.

Then the Onboard Service Chief sat me down and explained that the conductor had had enough of my shenanigans. He told me the next time I was caught opening the window I would be put off the train.

I was traveling by myself. I really enjoyed these Solo summer trips that my dad paid for with the All Aboard America fare. I was embarrassed that I had annoyed people whose jobs I admired. So that ended my days of Dutch door opening.
In the mid-1960's...

33k Dutch door.jpg
 

Everydaymatters

Conductor
Joined
May 15, 2006
Messages
3,263
Location
Just North of Normal, Illinois
I was a obnoxious teenage rail fan back in the 1980s. When I was in the 8th grade, 1980, I rode the Rio Grande Zephyr between Denver and Salt Lake City and back with my Dad. I enjoyed hours in the dome car and in between the cars with the Dutch door open as we rolled through the canyons. The crew did not appear to mind. I saw other adult rail fans opening the Dutch door. I learned how to open the top half by watching them.

When Amtrak rerouted the CZ over the D&RGW I eagerly anticipated my next trip where I could open the window on the Superliner cars. The safety culture changed from my trip in 1980. I was slow to catch on. I started off the day opening the window in my coach. When the attendant scolded me I moved to another car. I got scolded a second time. I continued the cat and mouse game for most of the day until mid-afternoon.

Then the Onboard Service Chief sat me down and explained that the conductor had had enough of my shenanigans. He told me the next time I was caught opening the window I would be put off the train.

I was traveling by myself. I really enjoyed these Solo summer trips that my dad paid for with the All Aboard America fare. I was embarrassed that I had annoyed people whose jobs I admired. So that ended my days of Dutch door opening.
This is a good example of why Amtrak should bring back the Onboard Service Chief. Just sayin'.
 

toddinde

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
248
Location
Sierra Vista, AZ
I wonder what Amtrak does if a passenger commits a crime in one state but the next stop is in another state?

For example, a passenger assaults a conductor after the eastbound Empire Builder leaves Wolf Point, Montana but before it reaches the North Dakota Border. If they kick the passenger off at Williston, North Dakota, I don't see how the local police in Williston would have any authority to detain the passenger for breaking a Montana state law - assuming (safely) that Montana has not issued an arrest warrant in that short a period of time.

The train can always stop prior to the border and meet local police in the state where the crime occurred.

If they can't do that, local police are usually able to arrest someone for committing a federal crime, so I assume that the local police in North Dakota would be able to make an arrest based on that authority. Presumably there is a federal law that makes it a federal crime to engage in a criminal act on Amtrak.
There is comity between states under the constitution. Law enforcement in one state absolutely can detain a person for a crime committed in another state. A short extradition hearing, and off they go. Very easy. Happens everyday.
 

Steve4031

Conductor
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Aug 27, 2002
Messages
6,065
Location
Chicago
The OBSC duties now fall to the conductor. On a trip about 10 years ago my senior citizen Dad came close to getting us kicked off of the Coast Starlight on a roundtrip from LAX to Seattle and back. I didn't help matters with my big mouth. The situation started when with the attendant in the PPC. On the trip to Seattle, he said nothing when we remained in the PPC during the wine tasting. My dad was obstinate and did not want to follow the announcements. A few other passengers remained too. I would have preferred to just go with the flow. But my father was insistent that we not leave, and at that point in my life I was tended to defer to him.

This attendant was a bit over the top in his announcements, and he was brusque and wasn't the friendliest sort to begin with. On the return trip from Seattle he overheard my father making comments to me about his announcements. He retaliated by shagging us out of the PPC car at the wine tasting. There was nobody else in the car but us. As I got up to leave, I told him that I was going to write a letter to Amtrak about his treatment of us, and that his job would be on line the line. I talked loudly, but did not use profanity. I do not drink, nor does my father, so drinking was not a factor in our behavior. As we left the car I overheard the attendant paging the conductor to the PPC car to report our behavior. I knew then that we were could be kicked off the train. We were between Eugene and Chemult. I knew Chemult was an unstaffed stop.

The conductor met with us at one end of the PPC car. Before we went up their, I told my dad to keep his mouth shut and not argue with the conductor. I explained that the conductors have to deal with lots of issues on this route, and that they might not be patient with us. I reminded him of the drunk people that had annoyed us in the diner. The conductor was calm and professional. He listened to our side, then explained that my threatening to write a letter to Amtrak would result in us being asked to stay out of the PPC for the rest of the trip. I asked about how to manage a dinner reservation that we had already made to for eating in the PPC. I suggested that we could eat in the diner to avoid any confrontation. The conductor facilitated this and we agreed to stay out of the PPC for the rest of the evening.

When we returned to our rooms the SCA asked us what happened. I explained. The SCA told us the attendant in the PPC was not a regular member of this crew, and that he was not doing his job correctly nor did he handle are situation correctly. I thanked him and stated that we would just stay out of the PPC to avoid further confrontation and be put off the train.

The word must have been spread to the rest of the crew. My father and I were treated well. The next day the SCA checked in with the attendant in the PPC. We were cleared to go back in. The SCA checked in with me several times and each time he made remarks letting me know he disagreed with how the situation was handled. I appreciated his support, but at that point my attitude was that if I behaved in such a manner as to need to meet with the conductor, I was already out of line. It was one of those situation where I thought that I knew better and should have done better.
 

Exvalley

OBS Chief
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Messages
641
There is comity between states under the constitution. Law enforcement in one state absolutely can detain a person for a crime committed in another state. A short extradition hearing, and off they go. Very easy. Happens everyday.
Respectfully, that's not how comity works. This situation is covered, not by the Comity clause of the Constitution, but by the Extradition Clause, which is found in Article IV Section 2.

The actual procedure for extradition is found in federal law, 18 U.S.C. Section 3182, and state laws. Most states have adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act which requires, before an arrest is made, a formal written demand for extradition that is accompanied by a copy of an indictment or an information supported by affidavit as well as a copy of any warrant or judgment of conviction.

One exception is found in the Uniform Act on Fresh Pursuit, which allows officers from an adjacent state to arrest someone if they are in fresh pursuit of a subject who has committed a felony or DUI and crossed a state line after pursuit of the suspect was commenced. But that is not the case in the scenario that I gave.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
807
I thought the part of my comment “It may be a Federal requirement in certain places but here in Eastern MD…” was pretty clearly stating that it was two different scenarios. As I said, it may be Federal requirement in certain places but here in my part of Maryland where the Federal rule doesn’t apply people are not wearing masks all that often.
And it might be too soon to throw away the mask since the percentage of people w the antibodies here in the US still might be too low for this to be safe. Or Covid may be done in the US.
YMMV.

The Federal mask requirement only applies to interstate transportation, airlines, buses, and Amtrak. Other mask requirements are local regulations, locally enforced. ….

You are conflating different things, an absolute Federal mask requirement that applies to a very, very limited range of things within Federal purview, interstate transportation, and general mask requirements which are under state police power and vary widely.
 
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