Havre protesting closure of Amtrak’s staffed ticket counter

Posted at 11:45 AM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 13:45:46-04

HAVRE – Amtrak recently announced that it plans to eliminate ticket agent jobs at Amtrak’s Havre and Shelby stations on June 1stt. The two offices will remain open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. with caretakers for those still traveling.

The Havre City Council held a meeting as a formal protest on Thursday evening. Statements were read by field staff from Montana’s Congressional delegation: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT).

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.

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