“Amtrak Bans 12-Year-Old Unaccompanied Child Riders”

by Walter Olson on November 24, 2011

Because Something Might Go Wrong, though there seems a shortage of evidence that much actually has been going wrong for youthful travelers on the railroad. If the new policy prevents youngsters from spending holidays or weekends with their loved ones, does that also count as Something Going Wrong? [Lenore Skenazy/WSJ, Hans Bader, CEI; related on airline policies]

{ 5 comments }

1 James Maxeiner 11.24.11 at 11:55 am

Delta Airlines bans not just 12-year-old child flyers from traveling alone, but 13-year-old an 14-year-old children as well, unless an extra fee of $100 is paid for unaccompanied minor service. I travel Amtrak every week. The opportunities for a child to get into trouble on a train, where one can move about as the train starts-and-stops, are considerably greater than on a plane where they are strapped in for the flight.

2 Alan Gunn 11.24.11 at 12:08 pm

Times change. One of my earliest memories is of an intercity Greyhound bus trip, alone, to visit my grandparents. I was three.

3 Hugo S. Cunningham 11.24.11 at 3:10 pm

@JM

There are many more places for children to get lost in connecting airports than on a single train going along a known route.

One of my fondest memories as a kid was unaccompanied train rides between Boston and NYC at age 10 or so. My parents would put me aboard in Boston, and my grandparents would pick me up in NYC. In those days, children didn’t even have cell-phones for 2-way contact with parents.

From a business viewpoint, Amtrak are cutting their own throats. Today’s young rail fans are tomorrow’s riders and supporters of Congressional aid to Amtrak.

4 Heresolong 11.24.11 at 3:46 pm

James,

The question is not whether there is a potential for trouble, but has there actually been trouble? Minors have been travelling unaccompanied for decades at age 12. Has it been an issue? Has Amtrak changed their policy due to ongoing problems with minor travellers or are they just arbitrarily deciding that 12 is too young to travel alone? I would think that if there was a rash of problems we would have seen something about it on the news as this is exactly the kind of topic that makes for a good news story.

5 John Burgess 11.24.11 at 6:10 pm

@Heresolong: True, but someone (probably with LLD behind his name) mentioned to AMTRAK or Congress) that once it happens…

$$$ It’s too late!! $$$

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