Lead Service Attendant
- Dec 25, 2016
Adam Ballard works for a disability service and advocacy center in Chicago called Access Living. He is its housing and transportation policy analyst, and a group from his office is headed to Bloomington next Wednesday for a work retreat.
There are 10 of them, and five — including Ballard — use wheelchairs. Their train has three cars. Each car has one space for a wheelchair. That makes three spaces for five people in wheelchairs. In the past, when Access Living gave advance notice that it was sending a large group, Amtrak took out more seats to fit more wheelchairs. Once, it took out seats in the dining car and charged a few hundred dollars extra.
On Dec. 30, an Amtrak agent for group sales based in Philadelphia wrote: "I received a cost regarding the removal of seats and I've been advised this will be over $25 K. Would you like for me to proceed with the request?"
Someone from the group wrote back: "Am I reading this correctly?"
The answer came back on Jan. 2. "The cost is correct," the agent wrote, citing a new policy for taking out those seats. The agent explained that it's expensive to take out extra seats and that it means taking a car out of service.
"With removal of seats, it can be quite costly," the agent wrote. "In previous years, the removal of seats from the coach cars incurred fees that Amtrak absorbed ... We understand and appreciate your loyalty with Amtrak. Going forward, we cannot continue to absorb these fees. These polices have changed nationwide as of 2019."