Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak ticket offices’

New York Penn Station Waiting Area Being Renovated

January 8, 2020

Amtrak and New Jersey Transit said on Monday that they are renovating the ticketed waiting areas of Penn Station in New York.

The work on the Amtrak Concourse on the Upper Level and Eighth Avenue side of the station will include new furniture and fixtures.

This will include communal tables and seats with electrical and USB outlets to charge electronic devices, an upgraded ceiling complete with new LED lighting, and a family area that will also feature a nursing mothers’ pod.

Workers will remove the midpoint barrier and install a new information desk and a second entrance offering easy access toward the Seventh Avenue side of the Station.

The project will cost $7.2 million and be completed over two phases.

The first phase began on Monday and is expected to be completed in March.

The second phase will then follow and is expected to be completed in June.

During construction there will be two temporary spaces, one for each phase of the project, to accommodate passengers.

The phase I temporary facility will be at the concourse near Tracks 9 and 10 while the second will be near Tracks 13 and 14.

Senator Presses Amtrak to Restore Ticket Agents

January 3, 2020

Montana Senator Jon Tester has asked Amtrak to restore ticket agents to two stations in his state as soon as possible.

Tester made the request of Amtrak President Richard Anderson in the wake of congressional approval of a fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill that included a policy rider that Amtrak restore ticket agents to some stations where they have been removed in recent years.

In Montana that includes Wolf Point, Havre and Shelby, all of which are served by the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder.

The policy rider directs Amtrak to restore agents to sell tickets and provide customer service to stations that lost agents in 2018 if those stations served an average of 25 or more passengers a day. That would include Havre and Shelby.

In his letter to Anderson, Tester emphasized the importance of ticket agents at rural stations, saying they do more than sell tickets. They also help passengers board, handle baggage and provide information about their communities.

Amtrak policy requires that unaccompanied minors can only board an Amtrak train at stations with a ticket agent.

Amtrak said it removed ticket agents at some stations as a way to cut costs and to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

The passenger carrier has said that most of its passengers purchase tickets online.

In place of ticket agents, Amtrak has contracted with people who act as station caretakers who open the waiting room in advance of train time and keep it clean.

Amtrak has been loath to replace caretakers with ticket agents even in the face of a congressional resolution approved earlier.

Instead, Amtrak has argued that caretakers meet the requirements of congressional intent of having someone at a station who provides customer support but not the sale of tickets or the handling of baggage.

In some communities, volunteers provide information to passengers although they are not authorized to sell tickets.

Kalamazoo Ticket Office to Close Jan. 2

December 13, 2019

The notice said that passengers boarding at Kalamazoo without tickets who wish to pay cash on board may do so, but will pay at the highest published fare. Tickets are subject to availability.

The nearest staffed Amtrak station will be at Battle Creek, Michigan, which is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Amtrak said those seeking travel for unaccompanied minors will need to travel to Battle Creek.

Kalamazoo is served by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains and the Blue Water.

It is also a connecting point for Amtrak Thruway bus service to northern Michigan.

Amtrak to Close Kalamazoo Ticket Office in Early 2020

December 10, 2019

Amtrak plans to close its ticket office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in early 2020.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told a Kalamazoo TV station that the closure is being prompted by a decline in sales at ticket offices in favor of online purchases.

He would not comment on how many Amtrak employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closing but said in the past the carrier has given agents the option to transfer to other stations.

Amtrak has been closing ticket offices in the past two years, including offices in Michigan at Niles, Flint, East Lansing and Jackson.

Kalamazoo is served by eight trains a day, including Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service and the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water.

None of those trains offers checked baggage or package express service.

The Kalamazoo station is a also a transfer point for Amtrak Thruway bus service to northern Michigan.

The Rail Passengers Association and Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers said it is working with Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation to develop a station host program for Kalamazoo.

A similar program exists in East Lansing and MARP said it has worked well.

Amtrak Rejects Reinstating Topeka Ticket Agent

May 14, 2019

Amtrak has turned thumbs down on a request by the City of Topeka, Kansas, to reinstate a ticket agent at the city’s station.

City Manager Brent Trout was not surprised by that response but said the reasoning given wasn’t what he expected.

In his March 7 letter to Amtrak, Trout cited a clause in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 that directed Amtrak “to provide a station agent in each Amtrak station that had a ticket agent in the fiscal year 2018.”

But Amtrak’s definition of a station agent varied greatly from that of Trout. As Amtrak sees it, having a caretaker who opens and closes and the station and keeps it clean enables the passenger carrier to comply with the law.

Trout had in mind someone who sells tickets and helps passengers board and disembark.

Topeka has that type of ticket agent until last year when the position was eliminated in a cost-cutting move that led to the removal of ticket agents in several cities across the country.

At the time, Amtrak said ticket offices in those cities sold too few tickets to justify the expense of maintaining them. The carrier said most passengers now make reservations online and either print their own tickets or present them to the conductor on a smart phone.

“It was a little surprising,” Trout said. “I thought the (legislative) language was clear, but they (Amtrak) view different positions in different ways. … We were hopeful that we could get that back.”

Topeka is one of six stops in Kansas served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief. Garden City also lost its ticket agent at about the same time the Topeka ticket office closed.

Amtrak said a caretaker in Topeka is on duty between midnight and 2 a.m. and between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Those times correspond to the scheduled arrival times of the Chief.

In his response letter to Trout, Stephen J. Gardner, Amtrak’s senior executive vice president of commercial, marketing and strategy, acknowledged that the caretaker does not sell tickets, but does provide basic information to passengers, including including how to place baggage tags on luggage.

Gardner said the Topeka agent had sold less than one ticket a day and that less than 3 percent of ticket sales came from station sales involving cash.

Trout conceded that ticket sales may have been low at the Topeka station, but access to a ticket agent was an opportunity for people who do not have a computer.

Amtrak figures show Topeka to be the second busiest station in the state with 10,084 passengers in fiscal year 2017, the most recent ridership figures available.

Newton was the busiest with 15,828 passengers. Others included Lawrence (9,834)), Hutchinson (4,294), Garden City (6,966) and Dodge City (5,208). Only Newton still has an Amtrak ticket agent.

In Garden City, the city placed computer terminals at the city-owned Amtrak station so passengers could buy tickets.

“In the global look at things, we saw an opportunity to talk to Amtrak about improved services at our station,” said City Manager Matt Allen said. “What we have set up now is a step in the right direction.”

Allen said city employees maintain and open and close the station. They do not, though, sell Amtrak tickets.

East Lansing Agent Service Ends Monday

October 28, 2018

The Amtrak agent in East Lansing, Michigan, will be removed effective Oct. 29.

Amtrak said passengers boarding or people meeting detraining passengers from the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan Blue Water will continue to have access to the station’s waiting area and restrooms each day.

The access for westbound Train 365 will begin at 7 a.m. while access for eastbound Train 364 will state at 8 p.m.

 

East Lansing Ticket Office Closing Oct. 29

October 19, 2018

Amtrak will remove its ticket agent from the East Lansing, Michigan, station on Oct. 29.

A caretaker will continue to open the waiting room at the station.

Passengers will be able to buy tickets from a self-serve kiosk at the station or make reservations at Amtrak.com, on the Amtrak mobile app, or by phone at 800-872-7245.

East Lansing is served by the Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water. It also as connecting bus service to Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains that operate between Chicago and Detroit.

 

Lamy Ticket Office Now Closed

August 13, 2018

Another Amtrak ticket office has closed. On Aug. 3 Amtrak pulled its agents from Lamy, New Mexico, on the route of the Southwest Chief.

The closing of the Lamy office had been announced earlier and set for July 31, but the closing was moved back a few days.

In a service advisory Amtrak said passengers for Nos. 3 and 4 will continue to have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures.

The station is open daily from noon to 3 p.m. Amtrak personnel on the train will assist customers boarding and detraining but unaccompanied minors will not be allowed to board at this station.

Ticket options include buying with a credit card from Amtrak reservations or at the Amtrak website. Passengers paying cash can pay for tickets on the train but such tickets will be priced at the highest fare and subject to availability.

Checked baggage is no longer handled at Lamy. Nearest full-service station is in Albuquerque, about an hour southwest of Lamy.

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.

La Junta Ticket Window Operation Curtailed

July 11, 2018

Although the ticket agent remains, the ticket window hours of operation in La Junta, Colorado, have been restricted.

Effective July 9, Amtrak reduced the operation of the ticket office at the station served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

However, Amtrak said there may be times during this time frame when no agent is on duty.

Checked baggage service is no longer available at La Junata. The new hours are:

  • Monday through Wednesday: 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The ticket office will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Passengers will have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures. The La Junta station is open daily between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

The changes mean that Amtrak personnel on the train will assist customers boarding and detraining when the agent is not on duty and unaccompanied minors will not be allowed to board at this station.