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Checking up on Amtrak's (lack of) ADA compliance

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neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Aaaaaaand, Marshall TX elevator is "out of service indefinitely" as of March 8th.

Amtrak shouid know that this is illegal. I await the next round of lawsuits against them. The compliance deadline was *2010*. Amtrak hasn't even *started* work on Elko (100% Amtrak responsibility), North Philadelphia (Amtrak/SEPTA), Coatesville (Amtrak/SEPTA), Harper's Ferry (Amtrak/MARC), Parkesburg (Amtrak/SEPTA), Clifton Forge (100% Amtrak), and now it's broken Marshall (100% Amtrak). This is just basic wheelchair access, apart from other ADA issues.

I can sort of forgive SEPTA, which is in the middle of a massive wheelchair access program systemwide, but Amtrak's inability to fix/maintain the three remaining inaccessible stations which are its sole responsibility is pathetic.

I mean, probably CSX is making trouble at Clifton Forge and Harper's Ferry (so has Amtrak sued them as it has the right to do?). But it shouldn't take 12 days + "indefinitely" to repair the elevator at Marshall. Which is Amtrak's legal responsibility.

And fixing Elko is *easy*.
 

Thirdrail7

Conductor
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Maybe they will close these stations in the future and avoid the issue entirely.
 

GBNorman

OBS Chief
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Feb 26, 2017
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Roden, even though I am an able-bodied 77yo, who tries to walk two miles daily, I can respect where you are coming from. You have at many a topic noted that both you and 'significant other" have disabilities and prefer to travel by train.

My younger Sister (75) is disabled. Although she doesn't ride anybody's trains (she drives into Midtown Manhattan), she cannot walk much further than 50 yards (she was an intramural Field Hockey player at Smith). She does use airplanes to visit her Daughter (my Niece) in Australia, but she need be wheeled everywhere. I go out to see her in Greenwich. She "talks of" coming out here to Chicago, but.....

ADA notwithstanding, "it's the pits".

I hear you; and pray I remain able-bodied "a bit longer" - at least to go overseas this August to Salzburg where I walk everywhere, and even carry (no wheels) a 25 lb bag (1km Hbf to Hotel).
 
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neroden

Conductor
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Feb 23, 2014
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Ithaca, NY
So, update time.

The 2014 report:
https://amtrakoig.gov/report-records/audit-reports/train-operations-and-business-management-addressing-management

At the time, there were 17 totally inaccessible stations ("where passengers who use a wheeled mobility device cannot get on or off the train"). Two (Glenwood Springs and Westerly RI) were listed as accessible on Amtrak.com already but had serious problems.

As of January 2019, Buffalo Exchange Street NY was fixed. So were Windsor CT, Windsor Locks CT, and Windsor - Mt Ascutney VT.

As of today, Clifton Forge VA claims to have an accessible platform and a wheelchair lift. Hope it really does.

As of today, Marshall TX no longer has a "closed elevator" warning. I hope that means the elevator is open.

The following are under construction:
Paoli PA (high platforms have opened)
Mount Joy PA (close to done)
Ashland VA (supposed to have started in August)
Newark DE (platform not under construction yet AFAICT)

The following are supposed to be "in design" (but aren't funded for construction):
Westerly RI (supposedly accessible, though highly problematic with a chairlift on stairs)
Coatseville PA
Parkesburg PA

The following have no reported progress:
Glenwood Springs CO (supposedly accessible, though the route is frightening)
North Philadelphia (elevators exist but are apparently shuttered and not maintaned due to "vandalism" -- wildly illegal)
Elko NVHarpers Ferry WV
 
Joined
Apr 6, 2015
Messages
13
All across the country, transit and commuter rail operators as well as Amtrak are chronically behind in fixing elevators. What’s the problem? Can they not just pick up the phone and call a contractor to come fix them the day they break down?
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
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May 31, 2009
Messages
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Austin Texas
All across the country, transit and commuter rail operators as well as Amtrak are chronically behind in fixing elevators. What’s the problem? Can they not just pick up the phone and call a contractor to come fix them the day they break down?
It's a small thing called Money! Budgets are being cut in all areas and Amtrak is doing well to just keep the Trains running as it is!

Let your Reps know how you feel, the Squeaky Wheel gets the Grease except @ Amtrak it seems.
 
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trainman74

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Apr 7, 2011
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Location
Sherman Oaks, CA
All across the country, transit and commuter rail operators as well as Amtrak are chronically behind in fixing elevators. What’s the problem? Can they not just pick up the phone and call a contractor to come fix them the day they break down?
Based on what I understand from ongoing elevator issues in my apartment building, it's a combination of things: 1) elevators are more complicated than most people think; 2) there is a shortage of qualified elevator repairpersons, so wait times for a service call can be long; and 3) getting replacement parts can take a long time. (Some but not all of this can be alleviated by throwing money at the problem... but see Bob Dylan's post above.)
 

EchoSierra

Train Attendant
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Aug 26, 2017
Messages
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All across the country, transit and commuter rail operators as well as Amtrak are chronically behind in fixing elevators. What’s the problem? Can they not just pick up the phone and call a contractor to come fix them the day they break down?
Well, it depends on who made the elevator, who's servicing the elevator, and how old it is. All of these determine parts availability. I worked in a building with elevators that were close to 20 years old and the company maintaining them needed to order parts fabricated overseas, which takes at least a month.
 

anumberone

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Los Angeles
How old are some of these buildings. I think it's old machinery and control systems that are wore out and parts are no longer available. Repair men but a bandaid on the problem and another pops up tomorrow. Buildings are old, train equipment is old and old passengers are screwed.
 

neroden

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Ithaca, NY
Transit system elevators tend to get abused. Often they're exposed to weather and a lot of water and dirt, as well as uncontrolled temperature changes. Transit elevators are therefore supposed to be built to a much higher durability standard than other elevators. They still need to be maintained.
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
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I have had two major orthopedic surgeries and am presently on a cane, I cannot do an escalator or THOUGHT I could not. Recently... Went in at Penn station’s 8th and 33rd entrance - no ekevator. My wife recruited a guy to carry my bag down and I did the steps. Stumbled around and found Club Acela. Was able to get a redcap but the ONLY way down to the trains was an escalator, I passed my cane to my wife, said a Hail Mary and did that long escalator. When we got to Boston South the conductor was able to get us a Redcap which was very nice but I still had to walk the full length of the train as there was no electric cart. He did kindly bring up a wheelchair which I was very grateful for.
 

PVD

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NYC/Queens
That side of NYP doesn't have elevators. They are on the opposite (7th Ave) side, or at the service walkway (former taxiway) midblock. Red Caps generally work that side (8th) and can get a wheelchair to bring you around, NYP RedCaps do carry radios to communicate with their desk in the main waiting area. That's a busy entrance, an elevator would make sense.
 
Joined
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I was unfamiliar with the station and the hotel guy at the Fairfield Inn recommended that entrance as it was the closest to the hotel and he “thought “ there was an elevator there. In the event it worked out. I tried calling Amtrak all the people can tell you about is “fares and schedukes..”
 

Pat Harper

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Louisiana
There's a phone app you can get for NYP that has a map that shows how to get from one place to another.
 

neroden

Conductor
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Feb 23, 2014
Messages
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Ithaca, NY
Hopefully the NY Penn situation will get better in 2021 when Moynihan opens. That will bring elevator entrances on the west side of 8th in *obvious* locations (the existing elevators are well hidden).
 

Thirdrail7

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Work on Ashland continues. The platforms are in the process of being raised. As a result, there may be changes in the boarding arrangement. You can keep track of the project on Ashland's website:

https://www.ashlandva.gov/567/Amtrak-Project

I don't understand the work that's going to be done from the article. The platforms are being raised, but there are also wheelchair lifts being installed?
A lift will still be required for those needing level boarding. Raising the platform will reduce the distance between the step box (on the ground) and the bottom step of the trap.
 

Anderson

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Virginia
@Thirdrail7 @daybeers I think I see the mix-up: The platform "being raised" doesn't mean it is going to be a full high-level platform (CSX would have a cow).

Also, as to why some stations have been rather behind:
-Clifton Forge had a running fight with CSX, which wanted to move the station (and so were holding up improvement permissions).
-Harper's Ferry, in particular, has the usual suite of "historic building" issues (the station is 130 years old).
-I suspect that Ashland was held up until they had a sense of where the Richmond-Washington project was going to go. It wouldn't do to rebuild the platform only to rip it up 2-3 years later.
 

Palmland

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Carolinas
As a regular visitor to Ashland for college homecoming I had been concerned about the change. But, from the rendering shown in the link, it looks like the design and small town appeal of the station has been respected and still meet ADA requirements. Thanks, Thirdrail7, for providing and explaining only modest height increase in the boarding area. Yes, that first step up to the coach has always been a big one. Although it never bothered me in my college days, many decades ago!
 
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daybeers

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HFD
I understand raising the platform a bit will ease boarding a little, but the trap steps on the Amfleets are still fairly steep.

It's just frustrating they aren't raising the platforms to high-level in Ashland. I understand the deal with CSX, but ADA is there for a reason. Yes, oftentimes it raises costs and doesn't really do what it was intended for sometimes, but ADA's requirement of level boarding makes sense.
 

seat38a

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Orange County California
I understand raising the platform a bit will ease boarding a little, but the trap steps on the Amfleets are still fairly steep.

It's just frustrating they aren't raising the platforms to high-level in Ashland. I understand the deal with CSX, but ADA is there for a reason. Yes, oftentimes it raises costs and doesn't really do what it was intended for sometimes, but ADA's requirement of level boarding makes sense.
Having freight traffic specifically exempts having to have level boarding platform. Directly from DOT: https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations-and-guidance/117586/op-35-ada-review-06-2018.pdf So in this case, ADA is not on your side.
 
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I can attest to the fact that Clifton Forge does indeed have a wheelchair lift now. Hubby and I road the Cardinal earlier this month and disembarked in Clifton Forge. Although not wheelchair bound, it was very difficult for my husband to get off the train. No way he could have got back on it. When we returned from CF the conductor got a wheel chair lift from a little shed and told us in the future if we were going to be traveling to any really small stations to be sure to tell them "handicapped" so they would spot the train differently at the station.

It looks like they built up a small portion of the so-called platform to accommodate those with mobility issues.
 

daybeers

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Having freight traffic specifically exempts having to have level boarding platform. Directly from DOT: https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations-and-guidance/117586/op-35-ada-review-06-2018.pdf So in this case, ADA is not on your side.
Thanks for that link! That's interesting, I thought it was on more of a case-by-case basis.

While ADA has its issues, I think just the fact that there's freight shouldn't automatically exempt one from having to build a high-level.
 

seat38a

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Orange County California
Nope, just means someone else other than Amtrak will operate the trains. Amtrak doesn't own any of the equipment. Its all California State property.
Thanks for that link! That's interesting, I thought it was on more of a case-by-case basis.

While ADA has its issues, I think just the fact that there's freight shouldn't automatically exempt one from having to build a high-level.
I guess freight doesn't really have to allow more passenger rail either. They can drag negotiations on indefinitely. ;)
 
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