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US Two people in wheelchairs wanted to buy a train ticket. Amtrak tried to charge them $25,000.

15:55  21 january  2020
15:55  21 january  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Amtrak tried to charge them $ 25 , 000 . WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: An Amtrak train crosses the Potomac river on March, 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. That’s the soaring ticket price estimate that Amtrak sent to Access Living for the two -hour train ride, saying that, as part of a new policy, Amtrak

A Chicago-based disabilities rights group contends Amtrak wanted to charge $ 25 , 000 to accommodate several wheelchair users on a one-way Ballard stated Amtrak said it would need to charge $ 25 , 000 to reconfigure a train car to meet the group's needs if more than three wheelchairs

Traveling on an Amtrak train from Chicago to the Bloomington-Normal, Ill., station costs $16 per person each way. And it would cost the same for most of the passengers traveling with the Chicago-based disability-rights advocacy group Access Living.

a train crossing a bridge over a body of water: WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: An Amtrak train crosses the Potomac river  on March, 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)© Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: An Amtrak train crosses the Potomac river on March, 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Everyone, that is, except for two of the group’s passengers in wheelchairs.

For them, it was going to cost more than $25,000.

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In Chicago, Amtrak tried to charge two power wheelchair users $ 25 , 000 for their tickets , instead of the the tickets usually cost. John Devore, Editor-in-Chief of Humungus, reacts.Jan.

Buying an Amtrak Ticket Online. You can buy a train ticket any time at Amtrak .com. If you want to get information and buy a train ticket by the Amtrak phone number, you should call the An adult must accompany them . Amtrak Student Discount. Students between 13 to 25 years old may receive

That’s the soaring ticket price estimate that Amtrak sent to Access Living earlier this month for the roughly two-hour train ride, saying that, as part of a new policy, Amtrak would no longer be paying for the costs associated with “re-configuring” a train to make special accommodations. The problem was that Access Living had five people who needed wheelchair accommodations, but there were only three wheelchair-accessible seats on the train. Amtrak said it would cost thousands to add two more, according to emails between Amtrak and Access Living provided to The Washington Post.

“At first, we thought it was a typo,” Bridget Hayman, a spokeswoman for Access Living, told The Post on Monday night.

On Monday, Amtrak apologized to Access Living and walked back the costly estimate for the group, agreeing to make space and accommodate everyone at the regular rate of $16 per person, according to Hayman and a statement from the company sent to The Post. The reversal follows days of public backlash since NPR first reported the story Friday. But Hayman said that Amtrak has still not resolved the group’s concerns about the new policy. Starting in 2019, the policy appears to require groups who need special accommodations to foot the bill themselves if Amtrak must physically change the train’s seating to suit their needs.

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Two wheelchair users from that group want to take the same train . Amtrak had said to add space for the two additional wheelchair users, it would need to take a train car out of service in order to unbolt 30, explained that would cost $ 25 , 000 . When the group objected, the agent wrote back on Jan.

But when two people who use wheelchairs tried to buy tickets recently, they were asked to pay a different amount: $ 25 , 000 . A one-way ticket on the Amtrak train from Chicago to Bloomington, Ill., costs .

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a combat veteran who uses a wheelchair, called the situation “outrageous” on Sunday and demanded that Amtrak eliminate this policy.

In a statement to The Post late Monday, Amtrak said the policy is now undergoing “further review,” and that the company has reached out to Duckworth’s office to schedule a meeting.

“Amtrak officials have contacted Access Living and we apologize for their inconvenience as we have been working through how to serve their travel needs,” the statement said. “We assured them that as valued customers we will accommodate all passengers who use wheelchairs aboard the same Amtrak trains they originally requested between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, Ill.”

Hayman said that Access Living has been using Amtrak for years to travel to advocacy meetings in Bloomington-Normal, like the work retreat on Wednesday, or to Springfield, Ill., to meet with lawmakers. Typically, Access Living gives Amtrak advanced notice of an upcoming trip if multiple travelers are in wheelchairs so the company can make the appropriate preparations, she said.

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Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) called reports that Amtrak wanted to charge a group of disabled passengers $ 25 , 000 for rail tickets that Five use wheelchairs , but Amtrak said it had room for only three. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including on transportation.

Amid mounting pressure over its charging $ 25 , 000 to two wheelchair users for a one-way train ride that normally costs a few dollars, Amtrak reportedly said However, an Amtrak group sales agent told the pair were told they would need to pay $ 25 , 000 to reconfigure a train car to make space for them .

This time, an Access Living representative reached out in December, saying five out of 10 travelers were in wheelchairs. The group requested Amtrak add two wheelchair-accessible seats to its train, which only had three wheelchair-friendly seats.

To add just two seats would cost “over $25,000,” an Amtrak agent wrote back to Access Living on Dec. 30. “Would you like for me to proceed with the request?”

“I thought it was a mistake. That’s the price of a car,” Adam Ballard, Access Living’s housing and transportation policy analyst, who is among the attendees in wheelchairs, told NPR on Friday. “How can that be possible?"

So, Access Living wrote back to Amtrak, asking whether perhaps there had been a miscommunication, or perhaps the group was misreading the email.

No, the agent responded on Jan. 2, “This cost is correct.”

“With the removal of seats, it can be quite costly,” she continued. She said Amtrak incurred the costs to change the train’s seating in the past, but, "going forward, we cannot continue to absorb these fees.”

To arrive at the high cost estimate, the Amtrak rep said the train car has to be decommissioned so that seats can be reconfigured. The tickets Amtrak is unable to sell for those seats is part of the $25,000 cost, the agent said.

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Amtrak said it will drop its $ 25 , 000 price tag for a wheelchair -accessible train ticket from Chicago to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, following widespread criticism. NPR reports that two wheelchair users who are part of a group from Access Living, a disability service and advocacy organization, requested

But when two people who use wheelchairs tried to buy tickets recently, they were asked to pay a different amount: $ 25 , 000 . It usually costs to take Amtrak from Chicago to Bloomington, Ill. The company defended the $ 25 , 000 cost for the extra wheelchair users, saying it reflects a new policy.

“We were floored,” Hayman said. “Certainly, if that’s the cost to reconfigure one train, it has a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities. … There’s a whole generation of people in wheelchairs who grew up under the ADA, myself included, and we’ve come to expect that we will have access to public transit.”

Duckworth, who lost both her legs in Iraq, said on Twitter on Sunday that she planned to contact Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson “to prevent future incidents” and to discuss doing away with the new policy.

“The Americans With Disabilities Act has been the law of the land for 30 years,” wrote Duckworth, who is also the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee’s transportation subcommittee. “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 news of Amtrak’s new policy spread, Hayman said a second disability-rights group reached out to Access Living and said it had actually planned to take the same train to Bloomington-Normal for the same advocacy meeting. The group had no idea of the policy either, she said.

Amtrak agreed to accommodate the group as well, Hayman said, but it only raised another concern: What if more people in wheelchairs tried to buy tickets for that same train at the station? Would they be turned away?

“That’s what’s so distressing about this,” she said. “In the statement Amtrak released late Friday night they suggested, ‘maybe we can take different trains’ — but then we’d have people missing our conference. It’s inequitable service.”

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