Amtrak Riders say Parking Machines at Sacramento Station Plagued with Problems

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A happy Father’s Day bike ride to the Bay almost wasn’t for Sacramentans Lisa and Mark Wright.

It wasn’t because their Amtrak train was late, but because they nearly missed their train fighting to pay to park at two machines in the city-run station lot.

At the first machine, Mark repeatedly tried his credit card.

“It kept saying unrecognized,” he said.

“I was freaking out that the whole day was going to be blown if we missed our train,” said Lisa Wright.

Mark moved on to a second machine where he tried to pay in cash, which the machine only accepted after the sixth attempt.

“It should not take an hour, running from machine to machine to machine,” Lisa said.

Once on board, with just minutes to spare, they say their fellow travelers shared similar stories about pulling in to the station, finding a space and not being able to pay for it.

Here’s what the Wrights heard from an Amtrak employee.

“Probably 20-30 people miss their train a day because those machines never work.  And he said he gets tickets two to three times a month because he can’t clock in late. The machines don’t work,” Lisa said.

Our FOX40 crew had to pay to park while interviewing the Wrights and the machine we picked worked just fine Wednesday afternoon.

While the parking attendant who finally helped the Wrights didn’t keep them from getting a $47 ticket, he did report the faulty pay kiosk to Sacramento’s 311 service.

That’s why city representatives say their situation is resolved.

“We dismissed the citation,” said Sacramento spokesperson Linda Tucker.

She says the dismissal had nothing to do with the Wrights reaching out to FOX40.

While ‘pay in advance’ signs in the station lot confuse some, Linda Tucker also has this advice for travelers.

“Go ahead and use the pay by phone system. Instructions are on our website.  The instructions are also at every meter. You can go ahead, board your train and pay by phone,” said Tucker.

Lisa Wright says she took a stand and complained publicly because she believes that many riders are too busy to contest their tickets and just silently pay the nearly $50 fee.

That may be the case.

Tucker says the lost sees an average of 110,000 transactions annually and so far this year only 9 complaints have been reported to the city.

Anyone who’s been frustrated with the Amtrak parking pay system will get some relief  in late summer.

Depot renovations mean will new payment technology in that lot.

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