Those Waiting for the Pere Marquette in Grand Rapids No Longer Being Left Outside in the Cold

A schedule change last year that left Amtrak passengers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, out in the cold for several months has apparently led to a resolution of the problem after a local TV station looked into the matter.

An investigation by WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids found that the station is usually open before the Pere Marquette departs for Chicago but often closed when it arrives at night.

Amtrak logoNo. 371 is scheduled to depart Grand Rapids at 6 a.m., but the posted hours for the station say it doesn’t open until 6:30 a.m. The station opens at 5:30 a.m.

Likewise, the posted hours say the station closes at 10:30 p.m., but No. 370 is scheduled to arrive from Chicago at 11:39 p.m.

The TV station said its investigation found that the station hasn’t been open half the time it’s supposed to be open.

Reporters observed Amtrak personnel being able to get inside the station as others had to wait outside.

The Pere Marquette originates and terminates in Grand Rapids.

The station is owned by the Grand Rapids public transportation agency, the Rapid, and leased to Amtrak.

A contract that Amtrak has with the agency says that it is to “use its best efforts to open or close the station” for Amtrak personnel and passengers to use it.

The posted hours for the Grand Rapids station were fine until the schedule of the Pere Marquette changed last May.

WOOD-TV said that records show that Amtrak last month asked the Rapid to have the station open for a half-hour before the scheduled arrival of No. 370 from Chicago.

Amtrak’s request to the Rapid noted that the two parties had a verbal agreement to have the station vestibule open at night due to a conflict with the station caretaker.

However, the vestibule is small and Amtrak has received numerous inquiries from passengers as to why the lobby and restrooms cannot be made available to those waiting for the train to arrive.

Amtrak also asked that the station open at 5 a.m. for the departing train

In an e-mail message, a Rapid spokesperson said “the change in the train schedule . . . did cause some scheduling problems with the contracted station attendant who has been in place for years, first with Amtrak directly and then with The Rapid.”

The spokesperson said The Rapid continues to work with Amtrak.

“We now have a solution in place to ensure that the station is open before and after the arrival of the train as expected.”

The TV station reported that this past week it observed someone unlock the station and turn on the lights in advance of the arrival of Train No. 370.

He said he had been hired about a week ago, which was about the same time that the TV station began making inquiries of The Rapid.

Located on Century Avenue SW, the $6 million station opened in late 2014. Most of its funding came from a $4.6 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant and a $1.5 million match in Federal Transit Administration, MDOT and local funds.

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