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Sun Jan 19, 2020, 02:33 PM

Amtrak Asks 2 People With Wheelchairs To Pay 25K For Ride From Chicago To Bloomington, IL, 1-Way

"Amtrak Asks 2 People Who Use Wheelchairs To Pay $25,000 For A Ride," Jan. 17, 2020, NPR.

It costs just $16 to buy a one-way ticket on the Amtrak train from Chicago to Bloomington, Ill., unless you're the two people who use wheelchairs and tried to buy tickets recently. They were told their tickets will cost not $16 but $25,000.

When Adam Ballard saw what Amtrak wanted to charge, he couldn't believe it. "I thought it was a mistake. That's the price of a car," Ballard says. "How can that be possible? I was sure it was a mistake. But I've seen it in writing. So I know it's not." Ballard works for a disability service and advocacy center in Chicago called Access Living. He is its housing and transportation policy analyst, and a group from his office is headed to Bloomington next Wednesday for a work retreat.
There are 10 of them, and five including Ballard use wheelchairs. Their train has three cars. Each car has one space for a wheelchair. That makes three spaces for five people in wheelchairs. In the past, when Access Living gave advance notice that it was sending a large group, Amtrak took out more seats to fit more wheelchairs. Once, it took out seats in the dining car and charged a few hundred dollars extra.



-- A member of the station staff pushes a portable wheelchair lift along the platform at an Amtrak station in DeLand, Fla. The company says its policies for having to adjust or remove seats has changed. --

"I use a power wheelchair. It is standard size for a power chair, but it's larger than most manual chairs. So I take up a little extra space," Ballard says. "But always in the past, no matter what kind of assortment of people and devices we had together for our group, it was never a problem to get everybody on board."
But not this time. On Dec. 30, an Amtrak agent for group sales based in Philadelphia wrote: "I received a cost regarding the removal of seats and I've been advised this will be over $25 K. Would you like for me to proceed with the request?" Someone from the group wrote back: "Am I reading this correctly?"

The answer came back on Jan. 2. "The cost is correct," the agent wrote, citing a new policy for taking out those seats. The agent explained that it's expensive to take out extra seats and that it means taking a car out of service. "With removal of seats, it can be quite costly," the agent wrote. "In previous years, the removal of seats from the coach cars incurred fees that Amtrak absorbed ... We understand and appreciate your loyalty with Amtrak. Going forward, we cannot continue to absorb these fees. These polices have changed nationwide as of 2019."

Officials at Access Living then reached out to senior officials at Amtrak asking for a "return to the prior arrangement," according to Bridget Hayman, director of communications for Access Living. She says Amtrak officials agreed to "present the situation to upper management" and give the disability group an answer by Jan. 13. But there was no response by the promised deadline, Hayman says, and then no communication when officials at Access Living tried to follow up. Jonathan Mook is an attorney who advises companies about their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. He was surprised by the $25,000 figure. "The $25,000 ... that's a Hobson's choice. It's no choice at all. Obviously, the group can't pay $25,000," Mook says.

The ADA, which became law 30 years ago this year, is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in jobs, schools, public places and transportation ...

More, https://www.npr.org/2020/01/17/797355136/amtrak-asks-two-people-in-wheelchairs-to-pay-25-000-for-a-ride



- Adam Ballard, the housing and transportation policy analyst at the nonprofit Access Living, says Amtrak wanted to charge his organization more than $25,000 to take the train from Chicago to Bloomington, Ill.

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Reply Amtrak Asks 2 People With Wheelchairs To Pay 25K For Ride From Chicago To Bloomington, IL, 1-Way (Original post)
appalachiablue Jan 19 OP
diane in sf Jan 19 #1
appalachiablue Jan 19 #2
Karadeniz Jan 19 #4
Karadeniz Jan 19 #3
PoindexterOglethorpe Jan 19 #5
Haggis for Breakfast Jan 19 #6
appalachiablue Jan 19 #7

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2020, 02:38 PM

1. The new policy sounds very tRumpian.

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Response to diane in sf (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 19, 2020, 02:46 PM

2. New rules for anti-democratic and illiberal America.

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 19, 2020, 02:48 PM

4. Thanks for the link...interesting to see it spelled out.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2020, 02:46 PM

3. So much for equal protection for the disabled. Raise everyone's ticket price by a quarter

And absorb the cost, as before.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2020, 04:04 PM

5. Clearly the essential problem is that Amtrak needs

more handicapped spaces. Perhaps it's possible to install a number of seats that can be easily folded up to accommodate a wheelchair. And many people use motorized wheelchairs. Many people use mobility scooters. I would think some kind of enforcement of the ADA needs to happen.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sun Jan 19, 2020, 08:53 PM

6. And they wonder why no one takes the train anymore.

One summer, I had thought about taking the train instead of flying to visit family. The ticket price was FOUR TIMES the normal airfare for a two-way ticket. Needless to say, I flew.

This country has been trying to kill rail usage for the past 60 years.

If you really enjoy train travel, fly to another country and take the trains once you get there. You'll be shocked at the difference in attitude and enjoyment.

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Response to Haggis for Breakfast (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 19, 2020, 10:52 PM

7. For many years I used Amtrak and also trains in Europe, the

TGV in France was especially fast and comfortable.

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