VIA Rail to Upgrade Access in 2018

Canada’s national rail provider – VIA Rail recently announced that it plans to add more wheelchair tie-downs to their rail cars in 2018. And although this is great news to disability advocates, this access upgrade didn’t come without a battle. A battle that began back in 2016, when Marie Murphy and Martin Anderson traveled from Windsor to Toronto on VIA Rail. Continue reading

VIA Rail to Upgrade Access in 2018

Canada’s national rail provider – VIA Rail recently announced that it plans to add more wheelchair tie-downs to their rail cars in 2018. And although this is great news to disability advocates, this access upgrade didn’t come without a battle. A battle that began back in 2016, when Marie Murphy and Martin Anderson traveled from Windsor and Toronto to on VIA Rail.

Both Murphy and Anderson have cerebral palsy and use mobility scooters. Under VIA Rail’s policy at that time, since each rail car only had one tie-down, if there were two passengers with assistive devices, then one passenger had to transfer to a seat and have his assistive device stowed in the luggage car. That’s exactly what Anderson did, but because VIA employees did not disassemble it, it sustained damage. So the pair filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

They argued that the wheelchair tie-down area is the only risk-free place to transport scooters; and the lack of multiple tie-downs essentially prevents couples from traveling together. They also held that even though the Rail Code only requires one tie-down per car, this minimum standard may not always suffice, and that adding another tie-down would be a reasonable accommodation.

The CTA found in their favor, and ordered VIA Rail to provide multiple tie-downs. That was back in February 2017.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of things. VIA Rail protested the ruling, and held that the installation of additional tie-downs would pose an undue financial hardship on them.

The CTA ruled that additional tie-down areas are a reasonable and financially viable accommodation, especially since VIA Rail’s trains in Western Canada often have three-or four tie-downs.

Ultimately VIA Rail announced in December 2017 that it would comply with the CTA ruling and install multiple tie-downs in all of their rail cars. “Via Rail is committed to providing sustainable, reliable and accessible intercity travel for all Canadians,” company president Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said in a statement. “Thanks to our revised policy, more people with mobility restrictions will be able to travel together.”

This new policy went into effect on January 3, 2018.

Uber Erects More Accessibility Roadblocks

Although Uber has long claimed that it’s not bound by the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it just makes common sense to make this service as accessible as possible. In fact, I had high hopes when Uber introduced their new WAV app that allows customers to order an accessible vehicle with a few taps and a swipe or two. And in theory that works; however since Uber doesn’t have enough accessible vehicles to meet the demand, it falls short of a viable solution. Continue reading

Historic Yosemite Railroad Boasts Excellent Access

I’ve visited a wide variety of rail attractions over the past 20 years on my accessible travel beat, and I have to say that the folks at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (www.YMSPRR.com) really wowed me the other day. Continue reading

What Does Brexit Mean for Accessible Travel?

With Britons voting to exit the European Union, I’ve had quite a few questions about what this means for disabled travelers. And although I don’t have a crystal ball, I can see at least one area that might possibly be in line for a change – air travel. Continue reading

Uber Charts a Different Accessible Course in San Francisco

Last December ride-share giant Uber rolled out an accessible ride program in Washington DC. On the surface it seemed like a good idea, as they partnered with wheelchair-accessible cabs in the District to provide services to wheelchair-users. As I pointed out in a previous blog though, this might not be the most sustainable approach. Continue reading

Is Uber Wheelchair Ride Program Sustainable?

taxi-200x300Late last week Uber rolled out their much anticipated accessible ride program in Washington DC. As their press release touts, this new option enables riders to request a wheelchair-accessible vehicle on-demand. And you can use the Uber app to order one in a matter of seconds. What could be better — an affordable wheelchair-accessible ride dispatched to you with a few swipes and a tap? Continue reading

Improved Access Coming to Glacier National Park

I had a great time when we visited Glacier National Park last year; however I was a bit disappointed that the iconic Red Bus Tours were not accessible. Well, all that’s about to change, as the new park concessionaire — Xanterra Parks and Resorts — recently announced that they plan to upgrade the fleet and add two accessible buses.

Continue reading