Amtrak recently paid out over $2 million to some 1,500 disabled travelers, under the terms of a settlement agreement reached with the Department of Justice on December 2, 2020. This agreement was reached after Amtrak failed to make its existing stations accessible to passengers with disabilities.
Says Assistant Attorney Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department, “As a result of the Justice Department’s efforts, more than 1,500 people with disabilities harmed by Amtrak’s inaccessible rail stations are receiving compensation for the discrimination they experienced.”
That’s not the end of the story though. Although compensation is great, the root problem still needs to be fixed. To that end, in the next nine years Amtrak is required to make at least 135 of their stations accessible. Amtrak will also provide training to staff on the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements, and implement an improved system for handling ADA complaints.
And it appears that they are moving forward with a new focus on accessibility, as Amtrak recently established the Office of the Vice President of Stations, Properties & Accessibility.
Rail travel is about to get more accessible. Finally.
The National Park Service recently announced that it will open up an early access lottery pilot program for North Pines Campground in Yosemite National Park. The lottery will apply to reservations from July 21 to August 14. The regular reservation period for these dates opens on March 15, 2022; however winners of the early access lottery will be able to make reservations from February 18 to March 10, prior to the general reservation period. Continue reading
Last month Shanghai police busted a group of folks who started a travel business of sorts. Not unlike Manhattan-based Dream Tours, this “tour operator” specialized in escorting folks to Shanghai Disneyland, and offered them front of the line privileges. How were they able to do that at this popular — and crowded — theme park? Well, they basically posed as disabled guests. Continue reading
Uber has a long history of sidestepping the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); but now it appears the Department of Justice (DOJ) has caught the ride-share giant in their own loophole. Continue reading
Ask any wheelchair-user about the problems with accessible travel, and most likely the issue of the airlines damaging or losing wheelchairs will come up. I’ve been covering accessible travel for over 25 years and writing about lost and damaged wheelchairs for at least that long. It’s a huge issue.
Unfortunately now the subject has taken on a deadly twist. A woman has lost her life because United Airlines nearly destroyed her customized power wheelchair.
airplane taking off
The US Access Board recently released the results of a study on the feasibility of installing wheelchair securement systems on passenger aircraft. This study was mandated by Congress, sponsored by the US Access Board, and conducted by the specially appointed Transportation Research Board (TRB). Continue reading
In September 2018 Charles and I were in Shenandoah National Park reveling in the spectacular fall foliage. At that time we lived in the California Sierras and our fall colors were relatively non-existent compared to the Virginia show. We stayed at Skyland Lodge on August 21, and had just unpacked the car when the heavens opened and we were hit with a torrential downpour. I started to settle in for the night, when I realized that I left my phone charge in the car, so I bundled up and trekked back out to retrieve it. Continue reading
Although Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park already has many accessible trails, campgrounds and picnic areas, more access improvements and upgrades are coming to the park. Here are some of the highlights of their Accessibility Transition Plan, which was released in July 2021. Some improvements will be immediate, while others are in the long term plan; but in the end they will add up to better access for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. Continue reading
Last month New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) highlighted their recent access improvements and reaffirmed their commitment to make public transportation more accessible to everyone. At a Coney Island celebration on the 31st anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo proclaimed, “My mission at the MTA is showing that accessibility and equity are one and the same.” Continue reading
Visiting a national park in 2021 is a completely different experience. Some national parks require reservations or entry permits, while others may have limited services. And then there are the crowds. People are being turned away from Arches National Park at 8 AM because the entrance line backs up to the highway, and when we visited Glacier National Park last week there was no parking at Logan Pass at 8 AM. Usually getting to a national park early in the morning will give you the edge, but that’s not always the case in 2021. Continue reading