WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a bipartisan amendment to restore staffing levels at major Amtrak stations across the country, including Union Terminal in Cincinnati. The Senators introduced the amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill currently being considered on the Senate floor.
“Union Terminal is a critical transportation hub for Cincinnati and the entire southwest Ohio region, serving thousands of passengers per year” said Brown. “Restoring permanent staff at Amtrak would better support passengers and maintain the continued success of Union Terminal.”
“As Union Terminal makes its much-anticipated renovations, Amtrak passengers should not be punished for their continued ridership,” said Portman. “The services Amtrak staff provide are important to all passengers at the Cardinal station, but this is particularly true for elderly and disabled individuals who may have to carry baggage down to the train platform unassisted, often late at night. Ensuring that Union Terminal is fully staffed will be essential the welfare of the Cardinal line and the well-being of its passengers.”
Brown and Portman’s amendment would require Amtrak to staff any station that has averaged at least 25 passengers per day in the last five years. In addition to Cincinnati, those stations should include: Hammond, LA, Havre, MT, Lamy, NM, Ottumwa, IA, Shelby, MT, Charleston, WV, Marshall, TX, Meridian, MS, and Topeka, KS, and Tuscaloosa, AL.
Earlier this year, Amtrak announced the closure of ticket windows and the removal of staff from 15 stations around the country, including the Amtrak station in Cincinnati. Brown and Portman wrote to Amtrak leadership at the time urging Amtrak to reconsider the decision, pointing the importance of staff to help passengers with services ranging from purchasing tickets to checking baggage.
Amtrak’s decision to de-staff stations with less than 40 passenger per day came at a time when the Cincinnati station is undergoing ongoing renovations at the Terminal and operating at an alternative location. The Senators said this decision was based on what is likely only a temporary decrease in ridership because of the construction at the station. Brown and Portman 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.