Amtrak is under fire for reportedly telling a group of people with disabilities that it would cost $25,000 for them to travel by train on a route that typically costs just $16 per person.
The group, including five wheelchair users, sought to travel together from Chicago to Bloomington, Ill. for an office retreat, according to NPR. All five work at Access Living, a Chicago disability service and advocacy organization.
However, the train has just three cars, each of which can accommodate one person in a wheelchair. Amtrak reportedly told the group it would cost $25,000 to remove seats so that the other two members of the party could be accommodated.
Officials from Access Living told NPR that they had previously made arrangements to be accommodated on similar trips with Amtrak, but were told that the train service’s nationwide policy had changed prompting the $25,000 quote.
“It is outrageous that Amtrak asked a group of passengers with disabilities to pay $25,000 to ride from the City of Chicago to Bloomington, Illinois. It is also disappointing that Amtrak leadership appears to have failed to offer a public apology for its initial mistake,” said Senator Duckworth, D-Ill., who herself uses a wheelchair and is the top Democrat on the Senate subcommittee overseeing Amtrak.
Late Monday, Amtrak seemed to reverse course.
“Amtrak officials have contacted Access Living and we apologize for their inconvenience as we have been working through how to serve their travel needs. We assured them that as valued customers we will accommodate all passengers who use wheelchairs aboard the same Amtrak trains they originally requested between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, Ill.,” Amtrak said in a statement.
Further, the train service indicated that it has reached out to Duckworth to arrange a meeting “as part of a further review of our policy of fees for situations where special reconfiguration of railcars is requested.”