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Locals unhappy with planned closure of Antioch Amtrak station

Planned closure of downtown Antioch Amtrak stop sees backlash
Planned closure of downtown Antioch Amtrak stop sees backlash 02:53

Some people in Antioch are worried about losing an important transit option and are fighting back against a plan to close the Antioch-Pittsburg Amtrak station.

"The last time it came it was like here and gone," said April Hill, carrying her friends suitcase to the Antioch train platform.

Hill has come by the Amtrak station to send a visiting friend back home towards the San Joaquin Valley. She knows it probably won't be long before Antioch says farewell to its downtown train station. 

The plan is to open another stop to the east in downtown Oakley, and when that is open the Antioch stop will be decommissioned. Hill says it has already been scaled back to the bare minimum.

"Yeah, they have gotten rid of the benches and ticketing kiosk," Hill explained. " I mean it wasn't, like, really nice before, but now it's even emptier."

For starters, it's a loss for Antioch passengers, and the loss of an amenity for a downtown which many see as improving. And then there's a potentially larger cost.

"Our entire vision for downtown was shaped around this Amtrak station," said Mayor Lamar-Hernandez Thorpe, referencing how many state and federal dollars for affordable housing, are often tied to transit corridors.

"It literally cuts developers off," he explained. "From certain funding that they could get subsidies that they can get from both federal and state funding because we will no longer have a major transportation hub in downtown Antioch."

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission says it has been planning the move since 2017, citing issues with homelessness and vandalism. The Commission also says the distance between Antioch and Oakley does not allow for having both stops.

"You know we've talked to a congressman," Thorpe said. "They're involved. We've talked to our state member. He's involved. But at the end of the day, this is not an Amtrak issue. This is a San Joaquin Joint powers authority issue. They have the power to reopen and reactivate our train station."

As the date draws closer, local citizens have been building a campaign to stop the closure, but even the mayor says that at this point, a change of direction is unlikely,

"I don't think we can probably change our mind," Hill said. "I think they changed their mind a few years ago."

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