A Chicago-based advocacy group for people with disabilities contacted Amtrak weeks in advance of their travel date to accommodate their group with five wheelchairs. As mandated by law, the train only had space for three wheelchairs, one per car. Amtrak officials said it would cost $25,000 to remove seats to make room for the two additional wheelchairs.
In the past Amtrak had reconfigured its train cars at no additional cost, but that policy changed in 2019. “Removal of seats…can be quite costly. Going forward, we [Amtrak] cannot continue to absorb these fees,” the company officials said in an email to the group.
“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,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois.
Following media coverage and public outcry, Amtrak agreed to accommodate the wheelchairs free of charge and review their policy.