Under the terms of a settlement agreement reached in December 2020 between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Amtrak, disabled passengers who traveled or tried to travel on Amtrak may be entitled to compensation. Specifically, passengers who traveled or tried to travel to or from one of 78 inaccessible Amtrak stations as far back as July 27, 2013 may be eligible for a piece of the $2.25 million compensation fund. Once Amtrak appoints a settlement administrator, a link to apply for compensation will be prominently displayed on www.amtrak.com. Continue reading
The US Access Board recently announced that they will be updating the access guidelines for rail cars. To that end they are seeking public comments on the issue. The regulations, which were last updated in 1991, apply to rail cars used in rapid, light, commuter and intercity rail systems. Continue reading
I’ve had no shortage of complaints about access on the NYC subway system — and for good cause, as currently only 118 out of 472 stations are wheelchair-accessible. But that’s all set to change in a big way in the coming months, thanks to a new program and a new accessibility chief. Continue reading
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
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.
Access is looking up these days in Vietnam, as the powers that be in Ho Chi Minh City have announced that the new metro and monorail systems will be wheelchair-accessible. The last time I visited the city, access was extremely lacking, so I’m happy to hear of any move in a positive direction. Continue reading
Although many train systems in the US can accommodate scooters, that’s not the case overseas, especially on UK regional trains. Scooter-user Diane Holyoake found that out the hard way last week when she was denied boarded on her First Capital Connect train from Croydon to London. Continue reading
Hats off to Paul Quartz, a UK-based travel agent who not only battled Eurostar on behalf of his disabled client, but also won the skirmish. Still it could signal a potential trouble spot for other disabled travelers. Continue reading
With the Paralympic Games just around the corner, Whistler is putting the finishing touches on their access upgrades, and Vancouver is bracing for an influx of disabled visitors. And the province of British Columbia is looking for a few good Paralympic torchbearers — 200 to be exact. If you live in Canada and are at least 13 years old, it could be you. Continue reading