Illinois Lawmakers Continue to Prod Anderson

An Illinois U.S. Senator who described a $25,000 fee that Amtrak sought to impose on a group of wheel chair travelers is continuing to demand that Amtrak change its policies.

Senator Tammy Duckworth along with the other senator from Illinois, Richard Durbin, and U.S. Rep. Jesús Chuy have written to Amtrak President Richard Anderson to ask that the passenger carrier review and improve its disability and accessibility policies, create a new position on its  executive leadership team and work with Congress to establish a new seat on the Amtrak board of directors to be filled by a member of the disability community.

The letter was written after the passenger carrier backed down from the fee, which was to cover the costs of removing seats from a passenger coach to accommodate the five members of a group who use wheelchairs who were traveling from Chicago to Normal, Illinois, to attend a conference.

“The time has come for Amtrak to hold itself accountable for making intercity passenger rail readily accessible to all Americans,” the Illinois lawmakers said in the letter.

“Amtrak’s decision to shift accommodation costs onto disabled commuters undermined trust with loyal customers and damaged the Corporation’s brand. We support your decision to reconsider and end the existing policies and practices that led to the unlawful initial charge to these commuters.”

The lawmakers said they hope that the controversy over the fee “will serve as a turning point in the long-standing effort to make sure Amtrak customers with disabilities can travel as seamlessly as any other passenger on the national network.”

The letter was sent to Anderson on Monday.

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