11 votes

Amtrak asks 2 people who use wheelchairs to pay $25,000 for a ride

7 comments

  1. [6]
    MimicSquid
    Link
    I'd be very interested in an actual ruling on this topic, because I can see strong arguments on both sides On Amtrak's side, there is a second train with availability for the overflow three hours...

    I'd be very interested in an actual ruling on this topic, because I can see strong arguments on both sides

    On Amtrak's side, there is a second train with availability for the overflow three hours later:

    "We will contact Access Living and suggest costs could be avoided by using the two separate trains on this route, with each train separated by about three hours and having three spaces for wheelchairs without any reconfiguration. "

    No one would argue, if the train was full, that Amtrak should add another car to suit them. On the other hand, there's presumably still space for people not in wheelchairs, so to tell them they need to take a different train is certainly treating them unlike the other passengers.

    Does anyone have particular insight into the ADA who could chime in here?

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      TheJorro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I don't think Amtrak has a strong side here, the cost they're asking is beyond reasonable. There was a previous arrangement for a few hundred dollars in reconfiguration fees regarding a dining...

      I don't think Amtrak has a strong side here, the cost they're asking is beyond reasonable.

      There was a previous arrangement for a few hundred dollars in reconfiguration fees regarding a dining car. The only change between then and now is simply that Amtrak has new, unspecified policies that somehow take the cost from maybe a few hundred dollars to US$25,000, without explanation. The article states that that's about 1500 tickets compared to the base price, which is multiple times more than car capacity. What gives?

      The agent stated that Amtrak had previously eaten reconfiguration fees. Were they always $25k? They'd better prove it if it was because, again, $25k to reconfigure a car (i.e. remove bolted seating) for wheelchairs seems totally unreasonable.

      So thanks to a change of policy, groups of wheelchair users on the hook for thousands upon thousands of dollars more than able-bodied groups. That seems like the exact kind of thing the ADA was supposed to put a stop to.

      Frankly, it just seems like Amtrak reconfigured a bunch of policies to increase profit (fair) but totally forgot about ADA in the process (unfair). The burden is on them, as the service provider, to figure out how to provide reasonable accommodations to people who require accommodations, and they have not done it here.

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        This is why I wanted input from someone who has some experience with the ADA. Is a second train within three hours a reasonable accommodation? Is $25k per one way trip (assuming that's the real...

        This is why I wanted input from someone who has some experience with the ADA. Is a second train within three hours a reasonable accommodation? Is $25k per one way trip (assuming that's the real cost) too high a cost for Amtrak to shoulder? I don't know.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          TheJorro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          To be honest, I'm more familiar with the AODA (the ADA for Ontario, Canada) but I believe they're largely the same (at least in spirit). I'm not sure that that second train idea could be...

          To be honest, I'm more familiar with the AODA (the ADA for Ontario, Canada) but I believe they're largely the same (at least in spirit).

          I'm not sure that that second train idea could be considered reasonable because that means you are now limiting the schedule of a person due to their accommodation needs, but this one is easily arguable. If they can provide a better experience for some people, but at limited time periods due to the nature of the accommodations, they can make the argument. But also one wheelchair spot per car sounds low to me, my local public transit can support multiple wheelchairs per car/bus.

          I can't think of any situation an accessibility law would consider allowing charging people who need the accessibility to pay so much money. The question comes down to why it costs $25k to accommodate people, if it indeed costs that much. It's here that I cannot see how this is anyone but Amtrak's own fault and responsibility because accessibility is something they should have had built into their operating policies to begin with, as a transportation company, even if it is somewhat more expensive.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            MimicSquid
            Link Parent
            Ok, thank you. I appreciate the clarification.

            Ok, thank you. I appreciate the clarification.

            1 vote
            1. TheJorro
              Link Parent
              Sorry for the bump, but this article came out in my geographic region yesterday. It's a similar enough issue! The school board is saying that they're guided by a policy but haven't said anything...

              Sorry for the bump, but this article came out in my geographic region yesterday.

              It's a similar enough issue! The school board is saying that they're guided by a policy but haven't said anything regarding accessibility accommodations either! The father believes that they clearly didn't plan their policies with AODA in mind if they cannot move a bus stop 50m to help a double-amputee child.

              Yet another example where "it's our policy" is not enough of a defense against a law.

              3 votes