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Fight loosing Amtrak ticket agents

 


The recent decision to close Shelby and Havre’s Amtrak ticket counter will have huge impacts not only on the passengers that board in Havre, but the Havre and Hi-Line economy. Many people come from all over the region to board Amtrak in Havre. They spend their money in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, and visit our unique attractions and shops. Many of these folks purchase tickets with cash at the ticket counter — often to receive the best deal — or call the agent in the office. The Amtrak spokesperson claims that “90 percent of Amtrak sales are purchased online” as justification for closing the Shelby and Havre ticket offices. This statistic may be true for East and West coast commuters, but is not true for the Hi-Line. Many of the passengers rely on the ticket agents not only to purchase tickets, but to assist with baggage, answer any serious questions and act as a liaison between the station and the community.

As a former Concordia College student, I relied on Amtrak to make the trip out to Fargo, North Dakota, from both the Havre and Shelby stations. Countless times the train was delayed and even once resulted in me having to stay the night in Shelby at a hotel.

Without the ticket agent in Shelby that gave the passengers complimentary hotel rooms and information, I could have been a stranded college student in an empty train station for over 24 hours.

I have boarded an un-staffed depot in Minnesota in the middle of the night that was located next to a questionable establishment. This was one of the most nerve racking experiences I have had. If an agent had been there, I would not have felt as vulnerable or defenseless. These agents provide invaluable services to passengers and should not be disregarded.

A single individual cannot stop this closure. It will take an entire community to raise our concerns to those we elected to represent us in Washington. Congress may control the purse strings of transportation funding; however, Jon, Steve, and Greg answer to us. We have until June 1 to make the phones ring off the hook. I urge everyone who cares about the future of the Hi-Line to make the calls to our representatives, voice your concerns and tell your stories.

You can contact Representative Greg Gianforte’s Washington, D.C., Office at 202-225-3211.

You can contact Senator Jon Tester’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-224-2644

You can contact Senator Steve Daines’s Washington, D.C., office at 202-224-2651

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Lindsey Ratliff represents Ward 3 on the Havre City Council

 

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