Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
Though MARC train service is a subsidiary of Amtrak, the rail service is actually unknown to most Amtrak representatives not in the DC Metro area. If you attempt to call Amtrak’s toll-free number to purchase tickets between Baltimore and West Virginia, the representative will not offer you travel on the MARC, even if it is faster with fewer stops or more cost effective for you. This is where you, dear traveler, must become proactive about your travelling experience.
You must purchase MARC tickets either from the Amtrak automated kiosk now found at most railroad stations or at the ticket teller window. When buying tickets in person for a destination covered by both the MARC train and regular Amtrak service, you will probably be asked which rail service you would like to take. The most assured way, however, is simply to request MARC service explicitly. Say you want MARC tickets to such and such, and the teller will provide you with them promptly.
When buying tickets from the Amtrak kiosk, it’s as simple to use as Fandango for movie tickets or as easy as getting your boarding pass at the airport. Simply follow the instructions on the screen and have a credit card ready for payment. During busy times, the Amtrak kiosk helps you avoid long lines. Just know where you’re going (and how to spell it) and you’ll have your tickets fast.
There are no reserved seats on the MARC train. You can buy a ticket, for example, from Camden Yards to College Park, and use the ticket the same day or buy it in advance for a later date. If you buy a ticket and your travel plans change, your ticket will still be valid for some time. In fact, accurately understanding the needs of the variety of travelers the MARC train carries, the service offers both month passes and 10-trip passes. The 10-trip passes allow you to travel either every day for a week or for 5 round trips at any time you wish before the ticket’s expiration.