MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - At the end of the month, it's the end of the line for Amtrak customer service staffing at the Marshall Depot.
The Marshall Depot Board held a news conference about a petition to urge Amtrak to keep an employee at the Marshall station. It was a total surprise when Amtrak announced the decision April 27.
There are over 600 signatures from citizens around the Ark-La-Tex who wish to continue the Amtrak staffing at the Marshal Depot. That includes former Harrison County Judge, as well as former State Senator Richard Anderson who is a big Amtrak advocate.
"To eliminate an actual physical presence here, a human being to help people, that's going to be an issue. And that's going to be calculated to constrict traffic, not to expand it," Anderson said.
"When you lose service you're going to lose ridership. And we've increased ridership; increased percentages of ridership, we need that customer service representative there as that face to continue helping those that are getting on and off," said Mayor Larry Hurta.
Anderson, his wife Christine, Marshall Mayor Larry Hurta and Alan Loudermilk, who just reopened the Ginocchio Restaurant near the Depot, spoke at the press conference where copies of the petition were presented to Senators Cruz and Cornyn's offices.
"Federal funding's important to Amtrak. And if you've got a United States Senator on the telephone asking you for a meeting, you're probably going to call him back and go to that meeting, because if you're not you're probably not going to be there very long," Anderson stated.
Congressman Gohmert will also receive a copy. Of course he's well aware of the situation since he signed it last week during a meeting in Marshall about the issue.
Richard Anderson says the petition will also be sent to the President of Amtrak, who is also named Richard Anderson.
"We want people to have a great experience when they come in to Marshall, and we want them to be able to get on safely. We want them to get off of that train safely, and so it's really an integral part of any customer service," Hurta added.
Anderson says he's taken Amtrak many times and will continue to use their service, but he'd rather see someone behind the counter when he boards in Marshall.
Beginning June 29, when the Marshall Depot is left unstaffed, tickets will no longer be available there, although you can still get on and off the train there. Anderson points out that not everyone has internet access to buy tickets online. Amtrak plans layoffs at 14 other stations nationwide.