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story.lead_photo.caption Passengers form a line Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019, as they board their train to St. Louis at the Amtrak station. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

Amtrak and the Missouri Department of Transportation are promoting travel to and from Jefferson City with a buy-one-get-one sale offering free companion travel through next month.

For each adult coach ticket bought for travel through Feb. 29 with Jefferson City origins or destinations, a second adult on the same itinerary will be ticketed to travel coach free of charge on the Amtrak Missouri River Runner trains.

Prices are as low as these fares for two adults between these Missouri cities, quoted each way:

  • Washington — Jefferson City, $20.
  • St. Louis — Jefferson City, $25/Kansas City — Jefferson City, $29.
  • Kirkwood — Jefferson City, $23/Independence — Jefferson City, $28.
  • Hermann — Jefferson City, $19/Lee's Summit — Jefferson City, $26.
  • Sedalia — Jefferson City, $15/Warrensburg — Jefferson City, $20.

To use this offer, use discount code V716.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said these special fares "thank the community for its patience while local, state and Amtrak officials worked to provide a modular building to serve as a temporary station."

Amtrak ridership was down in Jefferson City, according to end-of-2019 figures.

For July to November, Jefferson City had 14,519 passengers arrive and depart here vs. 17,009 for the same period in 2018, or a 14.6 percent decrease in ridership, according to MoDOT figures.

The biggest decrease came in November, when the number of passengers dropped by 28 percent year-over-year.

In early October, the Amtrak station at Union Hotel closed after a structural inspection of the 19th-century building determined there were significant problems.

Amtrak customers had to wait for their trains at an outdoor tent with portable toilets nearby. It wasn't until the end of December that a temporary Amtrak station opened in a trailer in the visitor parking area of the state-owned parking lot 3, adjacent to the Lohman Building at Jefferson Landing State Historic Site.

"It appears that not having an indoor passenger waiting area was a large factor in the decrease in passengers coming in and out of Jefferson City, " MoDOT Rail Operations Manager BryanRoss said. "Hopefully, the passenger numbers come back up with the temporary station now in place."

Despite the station problems, Jefferson City is the fourth-busiest stop for the Missouri River Runner trains, with Kansas City, St. Louis and Kirkwood as the top three stops.

"Both Amtrak and MoDOT also are grateful for the work of the station hosts, unpaid volunteers who meet every train, every day, to help our customers and endured weeks without adequate shelter or running water," said Derrick James, senior manager for Amtrak government affairs. "We're very glad those days are behind us, and we look forward to working with local and state officials on a permanent solution."

The buy-one-get-one offer is valid for adult coach seats only, no additional discounts apply. Sales are final, and no upgrades are allowed. This offer cannot be combined with any other discount offer. For more information, including other terms and conditions, visit Amtrak.com.

This article was updated at 5:15 p.m. Jan. 8, 2020, to add a fare included in the promotion that had been omitted.

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