Senators Urge Amtrak Reconsider its Decision to Leave Passengers with Zero Assistance in Multi-Level Station

CINCINNATI, OH – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today urged Amtrak to reconsider its decision to close the ticket window and remove staff from Cincinnati’s Union Terminal as of next week. The Senators said this decision would leave passengers, particularly the elderly and those with disabilities, without the baggage check, ticket purchasing, and passenger assistance services they need.

“We write to express our concerns regarding Amtrak’s plan to close the ticket window and remove staff from Cincinnati’s Union Terminal effective June 5, 2018.  We urge you to reconsider this decision,” the Senators wrote to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson.

Amtrak’s decision to de-staff the Cincinnati station was made when the terminal slipped below a 40 passenger per day threshold due to ongoing renovations at the Terminal. The Senators said this decision was based on what is likely only a temporary decrease in ridership because of the construction at the station. Portman and Brown said de-staffing the terminal would prove unwise, as cutting these services now would likely need to be reversed once the terminal is fully renovated and ridership has increased to normal levels.

A copy of their letter to Amtrak’s CEO can be found below and by clicking here.

Richard Anderson
Chief Executive Officer
Amtrak
60 Massachusetts Ave, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Mr. Anderson:

We write to express our concerns regarding Amtrak’s plan to close the ticket window and remove staff from Cincinnati’s Union Terminal effective June 5, 2018.  We urge you to reconsider this decision. 

Union Terminal, located in the historic Cincinnati Museum Center, is a national historic landmark and is central to the region’s passenger rail access. Amtrak’s “Cardinal” route runs from Chicago to New York City and stops in Cincinnati at Union Terminal every other day, with the eastbound train arriving at 3:17 a.m. and the westbound train arriving at 1:31 a.m. During the hours around train arrivals and departures, the station currently has Amtrak staff for baggage check, ticket purchasing, and passenger assistance. Since Cincinnati is a multi-level station, these passenger assistance services are particularly important to ensure that elderly and disabled passengers are able to safely board and disembark any train that travels through the station.

In April 2018, Amtrak announced the decision to remove staff from 15 stations that average fewer than 40 daily passengers. After June 5th, the station will be left unmanned and passengers will be without Amtrak employees to carry out these important functions. Instead, Union Terminal will have a “caretaker” – a contractor who is not an Amtrak employee – who will provide unspecified support.

Although traffic at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal may have recently slipped below the passenger threshold, we believe this decrease is only temporary, owing in large part to the ongoing renovations at the Terminal that require a separate, temporary station to be used in its place. In 2016, Union Terminal had more than 12,400 passengers, exceeding the 40 passengers daily threshold.  Cincinnati only slipped below that threshold in 2017 during the renovations, but we expect ridership to return to normal rates once Union Terminal is back open to the public. In fact, 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 renovate and ridership increases accordingly.

We urge Amtrak to reconsider the decision to de-staff Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and, instead, maintain the current staffing level for this important location. We appreciate your consideration, and look forward to working with you on the continued success of passenger rail service in Cincinnati and across the state of Ohio.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman

 

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