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Author Topic: Amtrak Asks Two People Who Use Wheelchairs To Pay $25,000 For A Ride  (Read 402 times)
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« on: January 18, 2020, 03:33:04 am »

From NPR

Amtrak Asks Two People Who Use Wheelchairs To Pay $25,000 For A Ride

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.


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."

[Article continues]

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2020, 11:44:22 am »

Bad as that is, I wonder what the response would have been in this country as few, if any, trains have space for 5 wheelchairs

I like to travel.  It lets me feel I'm getting somewhere.
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2020, 05:52:02 pm »

Bad as that is, I wonder what the response would have been in this country as few, if any, trains have space for 5 wheelchairs

I guess the question is, does it constitute a "reasonable adjustment"?
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2020, 06:27:51 pm »

Bad as that is, I wonder what the response would have been in this country as few, if any, trains have space for 5 wheelchairs

A couple of years back, my nephew and several friends wanted to cycle the Devon 'Coast to Coast' path, starting at Plymouth. They were obviously unable to book all their bikes on the same service. It was suggested - and accepted - that they booked their bikes on following services and meet up at Plymouth. Not quite the same as a group of wheelchair users, but probably the best way forward depending upon the occasion.
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2020, 06:33:18 pm »

A less frequent service between Chicago and Bloomington than between Barnstaple and Plymouth, though!
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