Havre protests closure of Amtrak’s staffed ticket counter

Posted at 7:11 AM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 09:11:59-04

Amtrak recently announced that it plans to eliminate ticket agent jobs at Amtrak’s Havre and Shelby stations on June 1st. The two offices will remain open from 11am-4pm with caretakers for those still traveling.

On Thursday evening, the Havre City Council held a meeting as a formal protest. Statements were read by field staff from Montana’s Congressional delegation: Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines, and Representative Greg Gianforte.

On the phone was Amtrak Director of Government Affairs Rob Eaton.

Before taking questions, Eaton told those in attendance that nationwide around 94.4 % of passengers are buying their tickets online or on an app, and that both Shelby and Havre fell in the category of 18 stations across the country that have fewer than 40 passengers a day.

“Well, we have airline services twice a day, other than that with Amtrak there’s no other type of transportation. People are getting older, they don’t want to drive and we had record snowfall…you couldn’t hardly move and so Amtrak runs every day,” retired BNSF employee and Amtrak rider Jerry Malkuch said.

One woman who says she’s one of the two employees at the Amtrak station spoke saying that around 7 out of 10 passengers in Havre buy their tickets at the station and pay in cash.

“I think it’s devastating to the community, the community needs these passenger trains. Sometimes it’s the only way out of town,” retired BNSF employee Gary Shelton said.

City officials and the residents of Havre are hoping that come June 1 they can extend the closing of the ticket counter until they can get more answers from Amtrak.

(MAY 7, 2018) Two people will be out of a job with Amtrak on June 1, according to the Havre Daily News.

The National Passenger Rail Corp. told them they are eliminating the Amtrak-staffed ticket office.

According to the Havre Daily News, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said almost all tickets — more than 9 out of 10 — are now bought online or using Amtrak’s telephone ticket sale service, so the passenger rail service is eliminating some ticket offices.

He said people will still be able to buy tickets at the train, but that will eliminate getting any kind of deal such as through early booking. If space is available on the train, people can buy a ticket but paying in cash while boarding ensures they will pay the highest possible fare, he said.

You can read more at the Havre Daily News website.

MTN News has not yet been able to confirm reports that the ticket counter at the Shelby station will also be closed; we will update you when we get more information.

We have tried contacting the mayor of Havre for comment, but have not heard back. 

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