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

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,087
Location
Baltimore. MD
Any plans to do something about tracks 15 and 16 (and tracks 7 &8) at Washington Union station? They're not only low platforms, but it's a big step down from the lowest step on the train to the platform. I found this out getting off the MARC train this morning, and getting startled by the drop. I know they're restoring track 22 on the lower level, and it seems like it's getting a high platform. I know they need at least one low platform track for the Capitol Limited Superliners, but it might be nice if they rebuilt the platforms.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,213
Location
Ithaca, NY
Any plans to do something about tracks 15 and 16 (and tracks 7 &8) at Washington Union station? They're not only low platforms, but it's a big step down from the lowest step on the train to the platform. I found this out getting off the MARC train this morning, and getting startled by the drop. I know they're restoring track 22 on the lower level, and it seems like it's getting a high platform. I know they need at least one low platform track for the Capitol Limited Superliners, but it might be nice if they rebuilt the platforms.
There are definitely plans for them. I saw the plans... ten years ago? I have no idea about implementation schedules though!
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
2,422
Location
USA
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,838
And they will continue in their ways unless individuals who make the decisions are held personally responsible for their actions. e.g. the person who does things like deciding to charge those wheelchair customers $25K should be fired on the spot. The company should also be ordered to have a single executive whose responsibility is to meet the ADA requirements and the DOJ be allowed to order that Amtrak fire that executive for cause and with no additional compensation if that executive fails to show that Amtrak is making a good faith effort to meet ADA by providing a monthly report to the DOJ that shows acceptable progress.
IMHO, fining companies and holding them guilty for illegal practices is a waste of time. That money paid is just our tax money moving from Treasury to Amtrak then to the courts then to certain individuals and none of it will improve ADA responsiveness. While the victims deserved it, fining and jailing those responsible and making them pay that $2M out of their own pockets works much better at insuring that this does not continue.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,213
Location
Ithaca, NY
Amtrak does have an exec responsible for ADA compliance (finally, this is pretty new), and he's a good guy, but he hasn't been given the necessary staffing, budget, or authority to do his job. So don't fire him -- it's his bosses (Mr Gardner?) who need to get the sack.
 

Chatter163

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 26, 2002
Messages
671
And they will continue in their ways unless individuals who make the decisions are held personally responsible for their actions. e.g. the person who does things like deciding to charge those wheelchair customers $25K should be fired on the spot. The company should also be ordered to have a single executive whose responsibility is to meet the ADA requirements and the DOJ be allowed to order that Amtrak fire that executive for cause and with no additional compensation if that executive fails to show that Amtrak is making a good faith effort to meet ADA by providing a monthly report to the DOJ that shows acceptable progress.
IMHO, fining companies and holding them guilty for illegal practices is a waste of time. That money paid is just our tax money moving from Treasury to Amtrak then to the courts then to certain individuals and none of it will improve ADA responsiveness. While the victims deserved it, fining and jailing those responsible and making them pay that $2M out of their own pockets works much better at insuring that this does not continue.
Sorry, but appears to be another emotional rant, not grounded in reality. It tends to to see everything in black and white, without (m)any shades of gray. It seems to want vengeance, as in imprisonment of individuals, and apparently believes that this will resolve a highly complex situation that is hardly unique to Amtrak.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,087
Location
Baltimore. MD
I have been alerted to the fact that Lordsburg, NM is in just as bad a state as Deming, despite being listed as having an "accessible platform", it's listed with "no wheelchair lift". It's another "board from the grade crossing", and apparently they haven't got a lift there either, just like Deming.

This seems to have been an oversight as it wasn't on Amtrak's previous list of stations with serious impediments to boarding for those in wheelchairs.

Revised consolidated list. I decided to organize it a bit differently.

Stations not requiring major platform work:
----
Not Clear Why It's Not Listed As Accessible Yet, Since it Looks Done:
Ashland, VA (NE Regional, Silver Service -- on CSX track)

Website says they lack wheelchair lifts (but they seem like the platform should allow it?):
Crawfordsville, IN (Cardinal -- on CSX track)
Elko, NV (California Zephyr -- on UP track)

Needs only staff to unlock the elevators, no progress seen:
North Philadelphia PA (NE Regional, SEPTA)

Stations requiring major platform work:
----
Under construction:
Westerly RI (no reported date of completion) (NE Regional)
Ardmore PA (expected done mid-2023) (Keystone/SEPTA)

Funded but not really started:
Newark DE (supposedly to be done in 2023 according to last article I saw, from Jan 2021) (NE Regional)
Coatesville PA (Keystone/future SEPTA)

Partially designed but not committed:
Latrobe PA (Pennsylvanian -- on NS track)
Downingtown PA (Keystone/SEPTA)
Thurmond WV (platform awaits rebuilding to put lift on) (Cardinal -- on CSX track)

Need major work, no progress seen:
Parkesburg PA (Keystone)
Harpers Ferry WV (Capitol Limited/MARC -- on CSX track)

No platform (board at grade crossing), no progress seen:
Deming NM (Sunset Limited -- on UP track)
Lordsburg NM (Sunset Limited -- on UP track)

Both Harpers Ferry and Thurmond require approval from the National Park Service as historic sites. I have no idea what's delaying the others. Though I wouldn't be surprised if UP was causing trouble over Deming and Lordsburg, that's just a wild guess. I want to see that report so I can find out what's actually causing the delays. The Keystone/Pennsylvanian stations seem to be delayed entirely by Amtrak itself, and they have nobody else to blame for North Philadelphia, either.
According to this list, there are:

Seven stations for which no work has started and have not even been funded.
Two have been funded but work hasn't started.
Two more have the ADA improvements under construction
One (North Philadelphia) needs no construction, only a management decision.
And there are 3 that appear to be finished, but are not listed as such by Amtrak.

It seems that the "list of shame" --- Lordsburg, Deming, Harpers Ferry, Parkesburg, Thurmond, Downingtown, Latrobe, Coatesville, and Newark, DE -- are stations that serve a very small number of passengers, with the exception of the stations serving the Keystone service. I wonder of some sort of turf war between Amtrak and SEPTA has anything to do with the lack of progress at Parkesburg, Downingtown, Coatesville, and Newark. Also, the last time I passed by Newark on the Northeast Regional, it seemed that there was a new station, so I'm not sure why it's on this list.

Given that Amtrak has "over 500 destinations" (some of which may be Thruway bus stops), the fact that the "list of shame" is only 9 stations that have relatively low passenger usage suggests that hyperventilating about Amtrak's negligence on this issue is a bit overdone. I might be a little more concerned about the lousy condition of the low platforms at Washington Union Station (5.2 million arrivals and departures in 2019) than I would be about the situation in Thurmond, WV (364 arrivals and departures in 2019). The real problem seems to be the stations on the Keystone Line. What's happening there? They were apparently able to get construction started at Ardmore, why not the other stations?

Passenger arrivals and Departures, 2019 (figures from the Rail Passengers Association)

Lordsburg -- 624
Deming -- 1,295
Harpers Ferry -- 7,920
Parkesburg -- 46,669
Thurmond -- 364
Downingtown -- 81,342
Latrobe -- 4,523
Coatesville -- 14,915
Newark DE -- 14,557
Westerly (under construction) -- 46,371
Ardmore (Under Construction) - 68,629
N Philadelphia (needs management action) -- 1,968
Elko (wheelchair lifts?) -- 8,360
Crawfordsville (wheelchair lifts?) -- 4,988
Ashland (appears completed) --29,930

For comparison, some selected stations which appear to have somewhat higher passenger counts:

New York Penn -- 10.8 million
Philadelphia -- 4.5 million
Baltimore -- 1 million
Washington -- 5.2 million
Chicago -- 3.4 million
Los Angeles -- 1.4 million
Denver -- 143,000
Kansas City -- 154,000
St. Louis -- 378,000
Savannah -- 56,220
Springfield, MA -- 127,000
 

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,236
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
According to this list, there are:

Seven stations for which no work has started and have not even been funded.
Two have been funded but work hasn't started.
Two more have the ADA improvements under construction
One (North Philadelphia) needs no construction, only a management decision.
And there are 3 that appear to be finished, but are not listed as such by Amtrak.

It seems that the "list of shame" --- Lordsburg, Deming, Harpers Ferry, Parkesburg, Thurmond, Downingtown, Latrobe, Coatesville, and Newark, DE -- are stations that serve a very small number of passengers, with the exception of the stations serving the Keystone service. I wonder of some sort of turf war between Amtrak and SEPTA has anything to do with the lack of progress at Parkesburg, Downingtown, Coatesville, and Newark. Also, the last time I passed by Newark on the Northeast Regional, it seemed that there was a new station, so I'm not sure why it's on this list.

Given that Amtrak has "over 500 destinations" (some of which may be Thruway bus stops), the fact that the "list of shame" is only 9 stations that have relatively low passenger usage suggests that hyperventilating about Amtrak's negligence on this issue is a bit overdone. I might be a little more concerned about the lousy condition of the low platforms at Washington Union Station (5.2 million arrivals and departures in 2019) than I would be about the situation in Thurmond, WV (364 arrivals and departures in 2019). The real problem seems to be the stations on the Keystone Line. What's happening there? They were apparently able to get construction started at Ardmore, why not the other stations?

Passenger arrivals and Departures, 2019 (figures from the Rail Passengers Association)

Lordsburg -- 624
Deming -- 1,295
Harpers Ferry -- 7,920
Parkesburg -- 46,669
Thurmond -- 364
Downingtown -- 81,342
Latrobe -- 4,523
Coatesville -- 14,915
Newark DE -- 14,557
Westerly (under construction) -- 46,371
Ardmore (Under Construction) - 68,629
N Philadelphia (needs management action) -- 1,968
Elko (wheelchair lifts?) -- 8,360
Crawfordsville (wheelchair lifts?) -- 4,988
Ashland (appears completed) --29,930

For comparison, some selected stations which appear to have somewhat higher passenger counts:

New York Penn -- 10.8 million
Philadelphia -- 4.5 million
Baltimore -- 1 million
Washington -- 5.2 million
Chicago -- 3.4 million
Los Angeles -- 1.4 million
Denver -- 143,000
Kansas City -- 154,000
St. Louis -- 378,000
Savannah -- 56,220
Springfield, MA -- 127,000
What about Flagstaff? An attempt to book a wheelchair space to FLG on the website still gives the following popup:

Amtrak wheelchair not available for the selected station. at Flagstaff (Amtrak Station), Arizona and Own wheelchair not available for the selected station. at Flagstaff (Amtrak Station), Arizona
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,838
Sorry, but appears to be another emotional rant, not grounded in reality. It tends to to see everything in black and white, without (m)any shades of gray. It seems to want vengeance, as in imprisonment of individuals, and apparently believes that this will resolve a highly complex situation that is hardly unique to Amtrak.
When a company like Amtrak deliberately evades their responsibility to even provide updated statuses, then those responsible need to accept responsibility. And you seemed to ignore that I did not demand that they do it all tomorrow but only the VERY minimal "if that executive fails to show that Amtrak is making a good faith effort to meet ADA by providing a monthly report to the DOJ that shows acceptable progress".
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,087
Location
Baltimore. MD
What about Flagstaff? An attempt to book a wheelchair space to FLG on the website still gives the following popup:

Amtrak wheelchair not available for the selected station. at Flagstaff (Amtrak Station), Arizona and Own wheelchair not available for the selected station. at Flagstaff (Amtrak Station), Arizona
You'll have to ask Neroden. I was simply using the list he provided.
Checking with the RPA, Flagstaff had 43,463 arrivals and departures in 2019, so it's a reasonably busy station, so it should have some priority for making it accessible.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,213
Location
Ithaca, NY
Remember that the legal deadline for Amtrak to finish making all stations compliant was *July 2010*.

Failing to even provide reports on the status of the projects is dereliction of duty. At the very least, each station needs an individualized explanation for what is causing the 12+-year delay in legal compliance.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,087
Location
Baltimore. MD
When a company like Amtrak deliberately evades their responsibility to even provide updated statuses, then those responsible need to accept responsibility. And you seemed to ignore that I did not demand that they do it all tomorrow but only the VERY minimal "if that executive fails to show that Amtrak is making a good faith effort to meet ADA by providing a monthly report to the DOJ that shows acceptable progress".
Why are you so sure that the company is "deliberately evading their responsibility?" Did you attend executive meetings where this was discussed? Are you a mind reader who knows what the executives are thinking? As Amtrak likes to say, they serve "over 500 destinations," so I might argue that the fact that they are only having problems with about 10 of those destinations (nearly all of which are not very busy places) indicates that they are making a "good faith effort" (whatever that is) to meet the ADA regulations. But they really need to move on those three stations on the Keystone line.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,213
Location
Ithaca, NY
Since management has changed repeatedly, I am not willing to say whether current management is making a good faith effort to obey the law, but it is crystal clear that previous managements deliberately avoided their responsbilities. Amtrak did essentially nothing from 1990, when the law passed, until 2008, 2 years before the deadline.
 

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,251
Location
NHV
Why are you so sure that the company is "deliberately evading their responsibility?" Did you attend executive meetings where this was discussed? Are you a mind reader who knows what the executives are thinking? As Amtrak likes to say, they serve "over 500 destinations," so I might argue that the fact that they are only having problems with about 10 of those destinations (nearly all of which are not very busy places) indicates that they are making a "good faith effort" (whatever that is) to meet the ADA regulations. But they really need to move on those three stations on the Keystone line.
Omg they had 30 f'in years to do this work.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,087
Location
Baltimore. MD
Since management has changed repeatedly, I am not willing to say whether current management is making a good faith effort to obey the law, but it is crystal clear that previous managements deliberately avoided their responsbilities. Amtrak did essentially nothing from 1990, when the law passed, until 2008, 2 years before the deadline.
That sounds about the way I used to do homework assignments when I was in school. :)
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,838
Why are you so sure that the company is "deliberately evading their responsibility?" Did you attend executive meetings where this was discussed? Are you a mind reader who knows what the executives are thinking? As Amtrak likes to say, they serve "over 500 destinations," so I might argue that the fact that they are only having problems with about 10 of those destinations (nearly all of which are not very busy places) indicates that they are making a "good faith effort" (whatever that is) to meet the ADA regulations. But they really need to move on those three stations on the Keystone line.
It only counts as a "not very busy station" if you're not the one in a wheelchair. And if they're not very busy, why not carry a lift in the baggage car that can be deployed with a winch so it can serve those not-very-busy stations the few times they are needed? And why fail to provide reports showing there is a good faith effort? And why NOT discuss a 30+ year violation since the passing of the law or the 12 years since the deadline passed?

What's really interesting is that the Savannah station had a wheelchair lift and about in 1995 or so, the Southeastern Railway Museum was offered it. I assume because they no longer needed it there as they had something better. I was one of the museum volunteers that drove from Atlanta to Savannah to pick it up. Now I wonder why they didn't move it to a station that didn't have one.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2009
Messages
632
Location
PHX
You'll have to ask Neroden. I was simply using the list he provided.
Checking with the RPA, Flagstaff had 43,463 arrivals and departures in 2019, so it's a reasonably busy station, so it should have some priority for making it accessible.
I was at the station back in November, and there's a wheelchair lift there. I also saw on the camera recently where they used a ramp to have a wheelchair passenger come out for a smoke.
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
9,213
Location
Ithaca, NY
Confirmed that Amtrak's online stations database is inaccurately listing stations as not having a wheelchair lift when they actually do. *sigh* I'll try to communicate this to people who may be able to do something about it. Their IT situation is... really bad.
 

Chatter163

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 26, 2002
Messages
671
Why are you so sure that the company is "deliberately evading their responsibility?" Did you attend executive meetings where this was discussed? Are you a mind reader who knows what the executives are thinking? As Amtrak likes to say, they serve "over 500 destinations," so I might argue that the fact that they are only having problems with about 10 of those destinations (nearly all of which are not very busy places) indicates that they are making a "good faith effort" (whatever that is) to meet the ADA regulations. But they really need to move on those three stations on the Keystone line.
Exactly. The member does have a tendency to rant without any real knowledge of internal affairs; I’ve noticed this in the past, about other topics raised in this forum. In this case I do appreciate the zeal for accessibility, which is indeed admirable, but not the black-and-white mindset, which does not seem to grasp complexity and nuance, which are usually needed to truly get things accomplished.
 

adamj023

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 1, 2015
Messages
242
Amtrak has lots of ADA compliant stations with more coming out. I don’t see any real issues. The NYC subway has much less ADA compliant stations.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
30,453
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Amtrak has lots of ADA compliant stations with more coming out. I don’t see any real issues. The NYC subway has much less ADA compliant stations.
The old "someone else is worse therefore my bad is actually good" argument. The sure path to mediocrity and then second layer from the bottom of the barrel. :D
 

daybeers

Conductor
Joined
Jan 6, 2016
Messages
1,251
Location
NHV
Exactly. The member does have a tendency to rant without any real knowledge of internal affairs; I’ve noticed this in the past, about other topics raised in this forum. In this case I do appreciate the zeal for accessibility, which is indeed admirable, but not the black-and-white mindset, which does not seem to grasp complexity and nuance, which are usually needed to truly get things accomplished.
30 years of complexity and nuance, really? Entire rail networks are built in that period of time.
 

adamj023

Service Attendant
Joined
Apr 1, 2015
Messages
242
The old "someone else is worse therefore my bad is actually good" argument. The sure path to mediocrity and then second layer from the bottom of the barrel. :D
Don’t see it that way. The MTA Subway has a small fraction of ADA compliant stations while Amtrak is mostly all ADA compliant in a lot more total stations around the USA with projects already in the works. Its not even close. I don’t believe all stations should be ADA compliant as long as there are other nearby accessible stations and alternative transportation methods available. Amtrak is in good shape.
 
Top