Amtrak Derails ADA


As I board the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner for an all-day excursion between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles my anticipation is dimmed as I recall an article from last June that reported:

A federal judge ruled that Amtrak can charge a group of
wheelchair users extra to ride in the same car together.

Did somebody come up with a new ad campaign for the travel industry? - "All the injustice that the market will bear."

Judge: Amtrak Can Charge Disabled Extra

The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 22, 2005; 4:27 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- A federal judge ruled that Amtrak can charge a group of
wheelchair users extra to ride in the same car together.

The wheelchair users, members of Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania,
travel to Washington regularly to lobby. They sued after Amtrak told them
that they could ride together on a Philadelphia-to-Washington train but
that some of them would have to pay $200 more than the usual ticket price
to cover the cost of removing seats.

The group sued, saying the policy violated the federal Americans With
Disabilities Act.

U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said Friday that under federal law,
Amtrak must have one space to park a wheelchair and one space to store an
unoccupied chair per passenger coach. It can charge extra for anything
beyond that, Bartle ruled.

About three-quarters of those who were to go on the February trip are on
fixed incomes of about $600 a month, the group said. Executive director
Nancy Salandra said the charge on top of the $90 round-trip ticket price
was too much for them to bear.

"If you and your family and friends and sisters and brothers and cousins,
more than 20, wanted to travel to Washington, you would get a discount as
a group," said Stephen Gold, an attorney for the group.

Amtrak spokeswoman Marcie Golgoski said the policy of charging for the
removal of seats does not apply to just the disabled. If people wanted to
have party on a train and seats had to be removed, they would be assessed
the fee, too, she said.


JUSTICE FOR ALL -- A Service of the American Association of People with Disabilities

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