Monday, June 11, 2012

Dear Amtrak

On the evening of Sunday, June 10th, I went to the Wilmington, DE station to board my 11:36pm train back to Boston. Your website recommends arriving 30 minutes before you are scheduled to board; I was there 45 minutes early. I had already printed my ticket, and I checked the departure board before going to the platform. The board told me my gate, and had the correct time listed for my departure (11:36). By 11:45, I was beginning to wonder if there had been a delay. Although the platform had electronic message boards to alert passengers of any changes in the schedule, I had not seen anything at all about my train. By midnight, I was seriously concerned. I called my father, who went online and discovered that power outages down the line had delayed all trains by at least an hour; my train would probably not arrive until one AM.

The message boards on the platform still said nothing.

Eventually, trains began arriving. However, the message boards were not being updated properly, so they were giving last boarding call fifteen minutes before the trains had even arrived at the station. As you can imagine, this caused some confusion.

I was scheduled to be on the 66 train to Boston. Eventually, a 900-something train pulled into the station. The electronic message boards had no information about what train this was, the conductors announced nothing, and I didn't see anyone to ask. I assumed that my train would be the next one and settled down to wait. A security guard working at the station came to me after the train had pulled out to inform me that that was the last train of the night. I eventually had to pay an extra $69 for a train that left at 4:50 the next morning. I will miss a day of work, not to mention a night of sleep.

I understand that delays happen from time to time, and that they are no one's fault. I understand that there are mechanical difficulties, communications snafus, and any manner of other mistakes that cause confusion. However, it is your job to work as hard as you can to keep all of your passengers informed of any changes in their travel plans. All stations need to be made aware of delays, and need to update their passengers accordingly. When you know that there has been an issue, you need to work extra hard to ensure that everyone knows what is going on. Plans change, and it's not necessarily anyone's fault. That's okay. What is not okay is not telling anyone that plans have changed.

I have been deeply disappointed and greatly inconvenienced by your mistakes this weekend. In future, please endeavor to suck less.

Tired, hungry, frustrated, and broke,
Diana Lark

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