City council rallies behind Amrak employee

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Topeka City Council is rallying around an Amtrak employee who is out of a job.

The council unanimously approved a resolution to solicit Kansas Congressional leaders to keep a ticket agent in Topeka.

The agent, James Woods, has worked at the station since 2009 but he’ll be replaced by an automated system Friday.

An Amtrak spokesperson has said more than 90 percent of passengers buy their tickets online.

"He's been a fan of trains his whole life and he's wanted to do this for years and years," said Woods’ son Jackson Woods. "Now, him maybe not being able to keep doing that is a very scary thought."

Council woman Sylvia Ortiz introduced the action in hopes the council would do something, even thought it's not up to them.

“I think we need the support to go forward so that everybody realizes what we have and how valuable it is and so that we continue the service that we have down there,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz isn’t alone, loyal train riders also spoke up for Woods. Claiming his friendly demeanor keeps customers coming back.

“The fact that this was unanimously supported means so much to me and really shows that this needs to stay in place, that we need to have a staffed Amtrak station,” Woods said.

Now, they need more of the community on board.

“We need to send a strong message that we want this in Topeka and all across the Southwest Chief route,” Woods said.

Garden City also lost its ticket agent, effective Tuesday.

Amtrak will use retirees from Santa Fe to open and close the sites for passengers.