Democratic senator asks for meeting with Amtrak head over alleged disability discrimination

 Democratic senator asks for meeting with Amtrak head over alleged disability discrimination
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthJoe Walsh ends GOP primary challenge to Trump Illinois senators meet with Amtrak CEO over ,000 price tag for wheelchair users Democrats ask Amtrak to review policies after wheelchair users quoted K ticket price MORE (D-Ill.), the top Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee and the first disabled woman elected to Congress, called for a meeting with the CEO of Amtrak amid reports the railroad service charged a group of disabled passengers $25,000 for an in-state trip from Chicago to Bloomington, Ill.

“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,” Duckworth, who lost both legs serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, said in a statement.

“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,” she added.

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The Chicago-Bloomington route is priced at $16 one way, but two wheelchair users in question were told they would be charged $25,000, with an Amtrak agent telling a group booking transportation on behalf of the advocacy group Access Living that the cost was necessary to offset the cost of taking out extra seats.

"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. We will also confirm the pricing for a railcar reconfiguration given to this important and valued customer,” Amtrak said in a statement, according to NPR.

In a statement to The Hill, an Amtrak spokesperson said "“We apologize for any inconvenience we caused our customers. Amtrak is complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is committed to meeting the needs of all of our customers. We will work with this group of passengers on an alternative plan to facilitate their upcoming trip.”