In all applications before the commission to discontinue agency service or to close a railroad station or the substitution therefor of other methods of transacting business with patrons of the carrier, which applications have been protested, the commission shall conduct a hearing within the city or village served by the station sought to be affected at a suitable place meeting the convenience of the public to appear at such hearing or at the county seat of the county in which the station sought to be affected is located. If more than one city or village is included in the application, the hearing shall be held at as centrally located a meeting place as practicable to the cities or villages involved or at the county seat of the most centrally located city or village involved. If the stations involved are situated in more than one county and when the stations involved are more than thirty miles from the point where the hearing is initially held, a hearing shall be held in the seat of each such county unless waived by the affected protestants. When more than one hearing is required under this section, the commission shall designate the first hearing for the taking of testimony of the applicant and such evidence as any protestant may wish to offer. Subsequent hearings shall be for the purpose of taking the testimony of other protestants.