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.

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

Ho Chi Minh City to Build Accessible Public Transport

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

Oxygen Travel Tip

Charles and I are on the road again; this time on a three week trip of the Western states, culminating in Oklahoma City. We’re basically spending our time finding accessible options in the national and state parks, tourism sites and lodgings along the way. We’ll check out a couple of larger cities too, and of course we also have a number of B&Bs on our itinerary. To date, it’s been a very productive trip, and I look forward to more of the same in the next few weeks. Continue reading