TOPEKA — Topeka's city government is seeking help from members of Congress in asking Amtrak to call off its plans to stop maintaining a ticket agent in Topeka.
The city's governing body, consisting of the nine council members and Mayor Michelle De La Isla, voted 9-0 Tuesday evening — with Councilwoman Sandra Clear being absent — to approve a resolution sponsored by Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz.
The measure directs city manager Brent Trout to provide Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran a letter asking them "to intercede on the City's behalf by requesting of Amtrak that it provide full passenger service at its Topeka facility."
The resolution also directs Trout to send Amtrak a letter asking that it "retain the current service level including the retention of a customer service representative."
De La Isla indicated Tuesday evening that she and Trout had already done that.
Ortiz asked at last week's council meeting that Topekans join her in trying to save the job of Amtrak's Topeka ticket agent, Jim Woods, who works out of the railroad's station at 500 S.E. Holliday. Amtrak plans to discontinue his position Friday.
The ticket services at the Garden City Amtrak depot were officially shut down on Tuesday.
In deciding to do away with the jobs, Amtrak officials stressed that most of their ticket sales come online. Fewer than one of 10 of their tickets is sold at a ticket counter, they said.
Topeka attorney Robert E. "Tuck" Duncan was one of five people who spoke Tuesday in favor of the resolution, with none speaking against it. Duncan expressed dismay that Amtrak was considering eliminating its ticket agent in Topeka, the home of Cyrus K. Holliday, the first president of its predecessor entity, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.
“Please support the resolution unanimously, and act damn fast,” he said.
Councilman Mike Padilla said Topeka has deep, longstanding connections to the railroad.
"To let it dissipate quietly would be a disservice to everyone who has worked for that company, who has worked for the railroad and has kept the railroad here," he said.