Disabilities group holds demonstration outside Normal Amtrak station

Local News

NORMAL, Ill. — A group of people planned a demonstration outside Uptown Station in Normal after Amtrak attempted to charge some wheelchair-bound passengers $25,000 for a trip from Chicago to the Twin Cities.

The Chicago-based Access Living set up the demonstration.

Amtrak sent Access Living an email on Friday saying its new policy on group trips showed it would cost $25,000 to take out seats to accommodate two wheelchair users on an upcoming group trip to Bloomington-Normal.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) issued the following statement when the situation came to light:

It is outrageous that Amtrak asked a group of passengers with disabilities to pay $25,000 to ride from the City of Chicago to Bloomington, Illinois. It is also disappointing that Amtrak leadership appears to have failed to offer a public apology for its initial mistake.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been the law of the land for 30 years. Yet in 2020, Amtrak believes it would be an unreasonable burden to remove architectural barriers that would enable a group with five wheelchair users to travel together.  

As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, I believe Amtrak must do better moving forward. To prevent future incidents, I will be requesting that Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson meet with me to discuss eliminating Amtrak’s nationwide policy of refusing to absorb any costs associated with reconfiguring a railcar to accommodate a group of wheelchair users.

U.S. Sen. Duckworth

Amtrak responded in a statement:

“After further review, Amtrak has determined to suspend the policy in question.  It was never meant to be applied to this situation and we apologize for that mistake.  We are glad it has all worked out and we were able to accommodate our customers’ trip.  We will do better next time.  We are America’s Railroad and we want to provide more trips, not fewer.”

Amtrak

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