Amtrak Says Paying Cash for Tickets is ’Suspicious Activity'

| by Michael Allen

If you're paying cash for train tickets on Amtrak, you are likely under suspicion.

If you buy your tickets at the last minute, stare straight ahead, make a phone call at an Amtrak station, you're also considered suspicious, according to the official "Guidelines For Amtrak Customer Service Employees in Texas."

The ACLU recently obtained the guidelines via a Freedom of Information Act request. The guidelines suggest that employees notify Amtrak police if they see a customer participating in these types of suspicious activity:

Unusual nervousness of traveler
Unusual calmness or straight ahead stare
Looking around while making telephone call(s)
Position among passengers disembarking (ahead of, or lagging behind passengers)
Carrying little or no luggage
Purchase of tickets in cash
Purchase tickets immediately prior to boarding

Under the Amtrak Police Department's "See Something, Say Something... Hopefully It's Nothing" program, customers are told to be on the lookout for other "suspicious" customers.

"Amtrak police have not reported a single instance of finding and catching a potential terrorist or serious threat as a result of its suspicious activity reports," claims the ACLU.

However, Amtrak police have arrested a black woman for speaking too loudly on her cell phone, a black man falsely accused of threatening a female passenger and a photographer for snapping pictures of a locomotive for Amtrak's "Picture our Train" competition, noted the ACLU.

According to, the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) hired a security firm to review its surveillance video with software that is supposed to watch passengers and determine who is acting abnormally.

Oddly, Atlanta doesn't have human personnel watching its MARTA security cameras 24/7.

"We can't be everywhere, but this is another tool in our tool kit to help customers feel safe,"  MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham told

"We have over 2,000 cameras on our system, and we do not have someone watching those cameras 24 hours a day," added Sgt. Aston Greene, of MARTA's emergency preparedness unit. "In the past, we only had the ability to react. This solution gives us the ability to prevent something from happening."

Sources:, (Image Credit: Kevin.B)