Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak ticket offices’

Flint Ticket Office Closes

July 11, 2018

Amtrak has removed its station agent and closed the ticket window at its station in Flint, Michigan. The change was effective on July 5.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers waiting to board the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water trains will continue to have access to the station waiting area and restrooms for all train arrivals and departures.

Station hours will be 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight.

Passengers needing assistance will be helped by onboard Amtrak personnel.

There is no checked baggage service available at Flint.

No One Home in Havre to Meet Builder

June 23, 2018

In announcing plans to eliminate 18 station agent positions, Amtrak said that all of the affected stations would have a caretaker who would open and close the waiting room at train time.

But the Empire Builder recently arrived in Havre, Montana, but the waiting room was closed and locked.

That prompted a protest from Havre Mayor Tim Solomon who said he has regularly received complaints from community members and travelers about the lack of a ticket office in the norther Montana city.

Solomon said he has not yet been able to talk with Amtrak but wants them to know the changes are not working.

Thus far Amtrak has held firm on closing all of the ticket offices that it said that it would.

Petitioners Seek to Save Marshall Ticket Office

June 12, 2018

More than 500 people have signed a petition seeking to save the Amtrak ticket agent in Marshall, Texas.

The office is one of 15 being closed as part of a nationwide cost-cutting program by Amtrak to close ticket offices serving an average of less than 40 passengers per day.

The petition was sent to federal and state officials on Monday. The Marshall ticket office is slated to close on June 29.

Marshall is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

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.

Amtrak Says Montana Ticket Office Closings are Final

June 8, 2018

Amtrak has told a Montana senator that the closing of ticket offices in Havre and Shelby is final.

In a letter to Jon Tester, Amtrak Executive Vice President Stephen J. Gardner said the Havre ticket agents have lost their jobs.

Gardner said in the letter that most Amtrak passengers purchase tickets online and over the phone nationwide and that the passenger carrier is eliminating ticket agents at stations averaging fewer than 40 passengers a day.

Tester’s press secretary, Marnée Banks, said the senator is continuing to look at what can be done to save the ticket offices.

The letter from Gardner also reiterated a comment he made to a congressional committee that Amtrak at this time has no plans of reducing the frequency of operation of the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder, which is Montana’s only Amtrak train.

“Amtrak must remain mindful of our congressional directive . . . to minimize government subsidies,” Gardner said. “We estimate that removing full-time agents from these two stations with fewer than 40 passengers will save approximately $200,000.”

Money saved from closing ticket offices will be redirected toward the national network capital investments and other improvements, Gardner said.

Gardner said 6 percent of ticket sales are made through traditional ticket agents at stations nationwide.

“Of nearly 10,000 customers boarding at (the Havre and Shelby) stations in Montana so far this fiscal year, we believe that only 30 percent and 17 percent, respectively, purchase tickets though the stations agents and of these approximately 2,300 passengers, only 14 percent and 16 percent, respectively, paid with cash,” Gardner said.

However, former Amtrak Havre ticket agent Leslie Shelton said during a meeting of the Havre City Council that she and a co-worker started in April tracking ticket sales in Havre and found that seven out of 10 passengers purchased their tickets from the ticket agents, with a large number of them being purchased with cash.

Both Havre and Shelby offered checked baggage service, which also ended with the closing of the ticket offices.

Gardner said in his letter that the onboard crew will offer any necessary baggage assistance for passengers whether they are boarding or disembarking from the train.

Amtrak has hired caretakers at both stations who will open and close the waiting room around train time and keep it clean.

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.

Montana Lawmakers Want Ticket Offices Kept

June 2, 2018

Montana’s Congressional delegation is protesting the closing of Amtrak ticket offices in Havre and Shelby.

Both cities are served by the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder and are among 15 offices being closed during May and June.

Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines along with Rep. Greg Gianforte criticized the actions and called on Amtrak to reverse that decision.

In Shelby and Havre, Amtrak plans to hire caretakers to open and close the station waiting room at train time. The caretakers will also be responsible for keeping the waiting rooms clean.

The Havre office was to close on June 1 while the Shelby office is set to be shuttered on June 3.

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.

Senators Plead to Keep Ticket Offices

May 22, 2018

Two U.S. senators are seeking to get Amtrak to delay plans to close ticket offices in their states.

Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) wrote to the passenger carrier to express “serious concerns” about the criteria Amtrak used to determine which ticket offices to close.

In a letter to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson, Manchin said removing the ticket agent from Charleston on June 6 “will not only deprive the state of West Virginia of its last Amtrak ticket agent, but will also compromise safety and upkeep of the facility, and make access more difficult for potential customers.”

Manchin said that Charleston handled 9,749 passengers in federal fiscal year 2017, which works out to more than 62 passengers per day for each day that the tri-weekly Cardinal operates there.

He said Amtrak’s decision to calculate ridership on a weekly basis ignores the fact that the Cardinal does not operate daily. “The policy penalizes Charleston’s station for part-time service without allowing it to be a full-time station.”

Manchin also said 30 percent of West Virginia lacks Internet access and that mobile broadband access is limited in many parts of the state.

Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana) sought to keep the ticket offices in Havre and Shelby open during a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

He also called on Amtrak to create a station stop in Culbertson.

“The Empire Builder is critically important to keeping our rural communities connected, transporting out-of-state visitors to some of Montana’s pristine landscapes and supporting local economies,” Daines said. “Amtrak must take action to ensure the needs of Montanans and rural travelers are met.”

Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Amtrak, said during the hearing the carrier is supportive of adding a stop at Culbertson once station infrastructure is in place.

Topeka Wants to Save Amtrak Agent

May 16, 2018

The city council of Topeka, Kansas, voted 9-0 this week to ask the state’s congressional delegation for help in keeping the Amtrak ticket office open in that city.

Topeka is one of 15 ticket offices slated to close or which have closed this month nationwide amid a recent cost-cutting move.

Three of those offices (Topeka; Garden City, Kansas; and Fort Madison, Iowa) are on the route of the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

The resolution was sponsored by Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz and directs city manager Brent Trout to provide Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran a letter asking them “to intercede on the City’s behalf by requesting of Amtrak that it provide full passenger service at its Topeka facility.”

The resolution also directs Trout to write to Amtrak to request that it “retain the current service level including the retention of a customer service representative.”

Amtrak has a single agent assigned to Topeka and that position will be abolished on May 18.

The ticket office in Garden City was closed on Tuesday (May 15).

Topeka attorney Robert E. “Tuck” Duncan was one of five people who spoke Tuesday in favor of the resolution. No one spoke against it.

“Please support the resolution unanimously, and act damn fast,” he said.