Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Cincinnati’

Amtrak Acknowledges 15 Ticket Offices to Reopen

May 23, 2020

Amtrak acknowledged on Friday that it will reinstate ticket agents in Cincinnati and 14 other stations that lost them in 2018.

The action is in response to a congressional mandate.

Other stations set to regain ticket agents include Marshall, Texas; Texarkana, Arkansas; Topeka, Kansas; Meridian, Mississippi; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hammond, Louisiana; Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Madison, Iowa; Ottumwa, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas; La Junta, Colorado; Lamy, New Mexico; Shelby, Montana; and Havre, Montana.

Those stations lost their agent because they averaged less than 40 passenger boardings a day.

Cincinnati was the largest city to lose a ticket agent during that 2018 wave of ticket office closings.

It will take several weeks for the ticket offices to reopen.

Over the next four to six weeks Amtrak will post job openings and follow that up with interviewing and training.

The carrier has said the station jobs will be part-time and pay $20 per hour.

Cincinnati, which is located on the route of the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal, handled 11,382 passengers in 2017, an average of 36.4 passengers for the 313 days the station was open that year.

Ridership fell to 8,482 boardings in 2018 although some of that might have been due to a construction project being undertaken at Cincinnati Union Terminal.

Amtrak used a temporary station facility that was difficult to find.

In 2016, Cincinnati handled 12,481 passengers, which met the 40 passengers per day threshold. The passenger count in 2015 was 12,503.

In statement issued on Friday, Amtrak said those hired for the 15 stations will be uniformed workers trained to assist passengers with booking and boarding trains, including helping with unaccompanied minors, carry-on baggage and providing information on the status of arriving and departing trains.

The agents will be scheduled to meet customers for all trains.

Applications for the jobs will be available online at jobs.Amtrak.com. However, the carrier said before it hires outside applicants it will initially seek to fill the jobs internally.

The Amtrak statement said the Cincinnati station will not offer the services Amtrak requires to carry minors ages 13-15 traveling on their own.

It attributed that to the time of day when rains arrive in Cincinnati. Nos. 50 and 51 are scheduled to reach Cincinnati in the dead of night between 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m.

The federal law prompting the return of the agents is contained in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 that became law in December 2019.

It directed Amtrak to provide a ticket agent at every station that had agent position eliminated in fiscal 2018.

Amendment Would Restore Ticket Agents

July 30, 2018

An Amendment introduced by two Ohio U.S. Senators would direct Amtrak to restore a ticket agent in Cincinnati.

The amendment to the transportation appropriations bill that would require Amtrak to staff stations that averaged 25 passengers a day over the last five years

Introduced on July 26 by Sen. Sherrod Brown and Sen. Rob Portman, the measure would also affect the following stations that lost their ticket agents earlier this year: Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Ottumwa, Iowa; Topeka, Kansas; Hammond, Louisiana; Meridian, Mississippi; Havre, Montana; Shelby, Montona; Lamy, New Mexico; Marshall, Texas; and Charleston, West Virginia.

The amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill is under consideration.

Cincinnati is served by Amtrak’s tri-weekly Chicago-Washington Cardinal.

More Opposition to Cincinnati Ticket Office Closing

June 8, 2018

The Hamilton County transportation improvement board has passed a resolution urging that Amtrak keep its ticket office at Cincinnati Union Terminal.

However, the office closed on June 5. Cincinnati is served by Amtrak’s tri-weekly Chicago-Washington Cardinal. It serves about 11,000 passengers a year.

Amtrak has hired a caretaker to open and close the waiting room and assist passengers with their luggage and boarding.

Because of construction at CUT, Amtrak is using a temporary facility adjacent to the iconic station.

The Cardinal stops in Cincinnati in both directions in the dead of night. The city will be one of the large Amtrak stops in the county to lack a station ticket office.

Amtrak now has ticket offices in Ohio at Cleveland and Toledo.

Senators Protest Cincinnati Ticket Office Closing

June 2, 2018

Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have written to Amtrak seeking to get it to reconsider its decision to close its ticket office in Cincinnati on June 5.

“We believe that destaffing Union Terminal now would be pennywise and pound-foolish, as the decision to cut services now would likely need to be reversed once the terminal is fully renovated and ridership increases,” the senators wrote in their joint letter.

The letter expressed concern that removing ticket agents would leave passengers, especially the elderly and those with disabilities, without appropriate levels of service for baggage check, ticket purchasing, and general passenger assistance.

Amtrak serves Cincinnati with its tri-weekly Chicago-Washington Cardinal.

Cincinnati Still Pushing to Save Ticket Office

May 30, 2018

Cincinnati officials continue to push to prod Amtrak into delaying closing its ticket office at Union Terminal.

Board of Hamilton County Commissioners President Todd Portune was to introduce a resolution opposing the move.

The resolution asks Amtrak to delay staffing cuts until after renovations are complete and a better assessment of passenger traffic can be made.

“We can’t let Amtrak eliminate servicing passenger rail at Union Terminal without objecting to it, “ Portune said.

The resolution follows a letter sent to Amtrak by City of Cincinnati transit manager John Brazina urging the carrier to at least keep the staff at a temporary ticket office until the Cincinnati Museum Center renovations are complete.

“It is our understanding many people thought Amtrak discontinued service during the CMC renovation,” Brazina wrote.

Amtrak plans to close the ticket office on June 5 as part of a cost-cutting move that will shutter ticket offices at 15 stations nationwide.

The ticket offices targeted for closing reportedly serve 40 or fewer passengers per day.

Cincinnati with 2 million people in its metropolitan area is the largest city among the 15 losing a ticket office.

The next largest city to lose a ticket office is Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the number of passengers who board in Cincinnati has been steady over the past 10 years.

In 2007, 13,032 people boarded the Cardinal at Union Terminal, a number that fell slightly after the Union Terminal renovations began in 2016.

Amtrak trains served 12,481 passengers in Cincinnati in 2016 and 11,382 in 2017. Because Union Terminal is under construction, the Amtrak ticket office and waiting room has been housed in a temporary facility adjacent to the station.

Cincinnati lies on the route of the Chicago-Washington Cardinal, which stops in the Queen City in the dead of night in both directions three times a week.

Local officials and rail passenger advocates fear the closing of the ticket office will depress ridership and that could hurt Cincinnati’s chances at better passenger rail service in the future.

“In so far as the national discussion of train service, we’re starting to fall off the map,” Portune said. “I want to preserve passenger rail service as a transit option, especially for Hamilton County.”

Hamilton County wants Amtrak to share the costs with Cincinnati and other local governments to promote train service at Union Terminal and help push for daily train service here.

Magliari said that fewer than one in 10 passengers buy tickets in person at a ticket window, instead choosing to use an app, the Internet or the phone.

“Maintaining a full-time staff and a hardly used ticket counter was not a good use of taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Magliari declined to comment on whether Amtrak would reconsider keeping the ticket window open due to pressure from local leaders.

Cincinnati Fighting to Keep Ticket Agents

May 7, 2018

Cincinnati officials are eyeing providing assistance in an effort to keep open the Amtrak ticket office at Union Terminal.

The action came after Amtrak said it would remove its two ticket agents from Cincinnati on June 5.

“The city administration is glad to assist in these efforts should that be the desire of the mayor and City Council,” acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney wrote in a memo to the Cincinnati City Council, which must approve any expenditures.

Duhaney responded after being contacted by passenger rail advocacy groups Friends of the Cardinal and All Aboard Ohio, which asked elected officials and city administrators to help keep the ticket office open.

Cincinnati is served by the tri-weekly Chicago-Washington Cardinal. No. 50 arrives in the Queen City on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday while No. 51 stops on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Both trains arrive in the middle of the night.

“While there are other stations on the Cardinal route that are unstaffed, Cincinnati is a popular, multi-level station which makes assistance by Amtrak staff for handicapped and elderly passengers very important,” Duhaney said in his memo.

He said that any loss of station services will degrade ridership and jeopardize continued service.

Aside from selling tickets, Amtrak’s two agents in Cincinnati assist with boarding and checked baggage.

Amtrak plans to hire a caretaker to open and close the waiting room before and after trains arrive.

The situation in Cincinnati is complicated by the fact that renovations at Union Terminal have forced Amtrak to temporarily locate to an adjacent, station facility on Kenner Street behind the Terminal.

The renovations at CUT are slated to be finished this fall.

Amtrak has cited an overwhelming preference by passengers to buy tickets online rather than at ticket offices as well as a desire to cut costs as motivating the closings of 15 ticket offices between mid May and late June.

“This is in no way a reflection on them,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said in reference to the performance of the agents in Cincinnati.

He said that the agents might be able to transfer to a different position within Amtrak.

After the Cincinnati ticket office closes the nearest Amtrak station with a ticket window will be Indianapolis. Amtrak also has ticket offices in Ohio in Cleveland and Toledo.

Magliari said the caretaker the passenger carrier plans to hire in Cincinnati will do more than open and close the waiting room.

He said that person will also assist passengers and receive training in how to operate the station.

The 15 stations set to close reportedly handle 40 or fewer passengers per day, yet rail passenger advocates content that Cincinnati should not be measured by that criteria due to the limited service and ongoing renovations of Union Terminal.

“Cincinnati is an outlier,” said Derek Bauman, the southwest Ohio vice chair for All Aboard Ohio.

“If you look at the other places where this has happened, [these are] basically smaller burgs,” he said. “I think that if it had not been for Union Terminal being under construction for the past year, that we would probably not have been in a position to lose our two people.”

Bauman expressed optimism that once the construction if completed at Union Terminal that Amtrak ridership in Cincinnati will increase.

“If anything, especially during this time of Union Terminal being rehabbed and the location and security and difficulty for (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, we need the assistance of the full-time Amtrak employees,” he said.

Amtrak Sets Round of Ticket Office Closings

April 30, 2018

Amtrak is closing at least five more ticket offices across the nation. The latest stations slated to lose their ticket agent are Cincinnati; Charleston, West Virginia; Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas; Marshall, Texas; and Lamy, New Mexico.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the stations in all cities will remain open.

Magliari said the closing is being done to save money and because the volume of business done at ticket counters continues to decline.

“Nine out of 10 tickets across the country are purchased online,” he said.

In most cases the stations will open for a period of time before train time and be maintained by a caretaker.

“However, stations under this status have the option of partnering with Amtrak to host a station. Hope, Arkansas, does this,” Magliari said.

Magliari said the Lamy ticket agent is expected to transfer to an open position in Albuquerque after the Lamy office closes on June 1.

The Texarkana window in Union Station will close on May 15 and the Marshall office on June 29. It is not known if the agents in Texarkana and Marshall will lose their jobs.

“Other positions could be found for them,” Magliari said.

Main Street Texarkana recently provide funding and volunteer labor to beautify Union Station with new landscaping. More work is also planned.

Arkansas-side Mayor Ruth Penny-Bell said she understands Amtrak’s need to cut expenses, but regretted the changing business model.

“I was glad to hear we will still have our station, but I was not happy with the ticket counter closing,” she said. “But from those of us of an older generation, it hurts not being able to go to the station and buy your ticket there.

“Sometimes it feels like the world is moving too fast, and many of us are being left behind.”

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones expressed similar regrets when he said that city’s Amtrak ticket office will close on June 6.

Jones said after that date, anyone who wants a ticket in Charleston will have to buy it online. He

Jones said not having a ticket window will be a terrible inconvenience for anyone who rides trains, adding that a lot of people are not Internet savvy and information about trains is not always up to date.

The Cincinnati ticket office is also set to close on June 6.

Arcadia Valley Amtrak Station to Open Nov. 17; Cincinnati Temporary Facility Opens in December

November 5, 2016

A grand opening and ribbon cutting has been set for Nov. 17 at the new Arcadia Valley, Missouri, Amtrak station.

Amtrak 4The event will be held at 2 p.m., but the first train won’t arrive until 10:30 p.m. that night.

The station, located in Arcadia, Missouri, will be served by the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The new station features a new platform and station facilities, although it uses a former Missouri Pacific passenger depot.

In other Amtrak station news, the temporary Amtrak Station at Cincinnati Union Terminal is expected to begin operations in December.

Parking for passengers will be available on Kenner Street with access to the boarding platform being provided via a temporary structure that will lead to the current Amtrak platform. Arrangements are being made to assist handicapped passengers up the ramp.

CUT is being remodeled over the next couple of years but Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal will continue to stop there.

Cincy Boarding, Detraining Procedures Detailed

September 6, 2016

Access to the boarding platform at Cincinnati Union Terminal has changed due to a construction project that began in July and will extend through late 2018.

Amtrak CardinalAmtrak passengers will be escorted in groups through the construction area for the next two years. Passengers will not be permitted to enter the walkway to the waiting room unescorted.

Served by the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal, passengers boarding in Cincinnati are asked to wait in the lobby area to be escorted to the waiting room.

Amtrak recommends that passengers should arrive at CUT 45 minutes before their train departure time.

Detraining passengers will take an elevator, stairway or ramp to the waiting room where security personnel will escort them to the lobby to exit the station.

Cincinnati Interests View FRA Midwest Rail Study as Step Toward Daily Amtrak Service to Chicago

August 18, 2015

Cincinnati area rail advocates are hailing a pending Federal Railroad Administration study as a potential step toward daily Amtrak service to Chicago.

The FRA recently said it would conduct a $3 million study of rail passenger service in the Midwest and Southeast.

The study will cover Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and 10 others states.

At present, the only Amtrak service in southwestern Ohio is the tri-weekly Chicago-New York Cardinal.

No. 50 to New York passes through Cincinnati on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. No. 51 to Chicago serves the Queen City on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

In both instances, the trains are scheduled to arrive at Cincinnati Union Terminal between midnight and 4 a.m.

Derek Bauman is the southwest regional director for All Aboard Ohio, a statewide rail passenger advocacy group. He and other Cincinnati area residents have spent the past 15 lobbying for daily rail service to Chicago.

“It’s great news that the Midwest is being afforded these planning dollars,” he said.

Passenger advocates would like to see Cincinnati-Chicago service developed further, including making infrastructure improvements to reduce the current 7-hour running time.

“We haven’t seen anything like this come down the pike in some time — if ever,” Bauman said. “Being a part of this larger effort gives us here locally a great resource to lean on.”

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, a long-time advocate for bringing rail transit to the region, also views the the FRA’s plan a “real positive shot in the arm.”

“This funding makes the vision real,” Portune told WCPO-TV. “It tells us there is not only verbal support, but there is now financial support for doing the preliminary environmental work that’s needed for high-speed rail service between Cincinnati and Chicago.”

Portune also said that the pending planning process “communicates to the region, ‘Now is the time to get your act together.'”

Beyond a daily connection to Chicago, Portune said daily rail service out of the city center of Cincinnati could lead to other local transit options connecting Downtown to Hamilton’s County’s west side communities.

Bauman said All Aboard Ohio is seeking to development partnerships with local chambers of commerce, educational institutions, and other organizations soon to draft model plans to supplement the FRA’s study on a local level.

“It’s important for us as a region to stay in tune with what’s going on,” he said.

Rail passenger proponents are also working the city of Oxford and Miami University in a campaign to establish a stop of the Cardinal in Oxford, Ohio.