CINCINNATI -- The Hamilton County transportation improvement board Monday passed a resolution urging that Amtrak keep its full-time staff at Union Terminal.
The resolution -- passed Monday by the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District's board of trustees -- calls on Amtrak to maintain two full-time station attendant positions to service the more than 11,000 Amtrak passengers leaving or arriving in Cincinnati each year.
Tuesday, June 5 was the last day the transcontinental public passenger rail service planned to keep its full-time staff members at the station, which served Amtrak's long-distance Cardinal Line. The Cardinal spans from New York to Chicago, by way of Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Cincinnati and Indianapolis, among other, smaller cities.
The loss of staff means passengers will no longer be able to purchase tickets at a ticket counter. There will be a part-time contractor on site when the trains arrive to assist with baggage claim and boarding, but they will not be Amtrak employees.
"People have voted with their keyboards and pocketbooks," said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari in an April interview with WCPO. "Fewer than one in 10 tickets are purchased at that ticket window," as opposed to online.
Currently, the Cardinal Line serves Union Terminal three times a week in each direction, all stops arriving between 1 and 4 a.m.
In April, Amtrak announced it would pull staff from 15 station-cities across various routes all over the country. Magliari said Amtrak officials determined the cities to cut staffing levels based on declining ridership trends.
However, some felt Cincinnati stood out on that list of cuts.
"Cincinnati is an outlier," said Derek Bauman, the southwest Ohio vice chair for the passenger rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio. "If you look at the other places where this has happened, basically smaller burgs."
Both Bauman, who represents rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio in the state's southwest region, and the TID also connect the station's declining ridership with recent renovation construction at Union Terminal.
"I think that if it had not been for Union Terminal being under construction for the past year, that we would probably not have been in a position to lose our two people," he said.