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Travelers bundle up in a different way along the Central Coast to have virus protections

amtrak Train
Tracy Lehr / KEYT
Train schedules will be changed for the holidays and reservations are required to keep the car capacity spaced out enough for health care during the pandemic.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The coronavirus version of holiday travel should come in a handbook as green as the Grinch. Nothing feels like it should be.

First comes the warnings from every health officials to stay home and stay away from others.

Then come the cutbacks in travel services.

If you are traveling in a mass transit mode, there are checkpoints and mandatory guidelines that will make most of your trip more of a task, than a happy holiday sing-a-long.

Already there are clear signs of adjustments. At the Santa Barbara Airport Wednesday night, travelers wearing face masks said the protocols were everywhere.

Train service at the main Amtrak historic deport in Santa Barbara is scaled back with fewer seats available and reservations required to keep the cars from being over crowded.

Amtrak says customers are encouraged to travel only for "essential purposes in observation of the statewide stay-at-home order, and to familiarize themselves with local health and safety regulations that may vary by region."

"I arrived here around 9:30," said train traveler Jeff Copeland. He had a couple of hours before going from a train to a bus. Bakersfield was his final destination.

He didn't worry about being with others on the trips as long as there was enough room. "Absolutely, I stay six feet away from people at least and use common sense."

Going northbound, Marina Renteria said, "not a lot of people traveling right now  so it was pretty cool   good viewing and all of that."

Copeland said on his ride, " people by default were sitting at least two or three rows away from each other a it wasn't very full."   

Coming in to see her mother, Roberta Fricker said  "they usually give you like a little ticket for a seat assignment, they are planning the spacing out in advance.  Actually prior to that is was more crowded ."

The reservation requirement began Wednesday and goes through December 28.

Watch tonight on KEYT NewsChannel 3, KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX Fox 11 news.

(More details, video and photos will be added here later today.)

Visit for additional information.

Tips to ensure a safe and smooth trip:

  • Plan Ahead and Book Early: Visit to check availability and book tickets. Tickets can also be purchased at, from Quik-TrakSM ticket kiosks, on the Amtrak app, or by calling 800-USA-RAIL.
  • Travel Responsibly: Follow safety measures and any important public health orders in place during your trip and at your destination. This includes wearing a mask at stations and onboard trains at all times, washing hands or using sanitizer often, staying home if you are sick, and traveling for essential purposes only.
  • Travel Off-Peak: When searching for travel during the all-reserved period, customers will see a volume percentage next to each trip option so they can get insight into specific trains that are less crowded. The percentage displayed is available in real-time when customers search for their train. These percentage numbers adjust dynamically as more passengers make reservations.
  • Cancel If You Need To: Amtrak has waived all change fees for reservations made by December 31, 2020. If you decide that you don’t want to take a trip, and prefer to cancel rather than postpone, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL and speak with an Amtrak agent.
  • Check Train Schedules: Check holiday schedules and train status before arriving at the station on Twitter (@PacSurfliners),, or the Amtrak app.
  • Book Travel Electronically: The Amtrak website and app now offer additional digital payment options, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal, to make it easier to book travel and update reservations. Your eTicket will be delivered to your inbox and is also available in the app. Save it on your mobile device and present it to the conductor upon request.
  • If You See Something, Say Something: Report any suspicious activity or unattended items to an Amtrak employee or member of the Amtrak Police Department at (800) 331-0008, by calling 911, or by sending a text to APD11 from a smartphone, or to 27311 from a standard cell phone.

For more information, visit To stay up to date on the latest announcements, news and information for the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, visit

Article Topic Follows: Travel

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John Palminteri

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