Traveling with a mobility scooter

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PaulDobbs

Service Attendant
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Fort Worth
I have travelled many times on Amtrak in the past, lately mostly in bedrooms. In the last couple of years, I have developed worsening lung problems (partially collapsed lungs) which cause me to get badly out of breath when walking more that about a hundred feet, so I have started using a mobility scooter whenever I will have to walk a long distance. I am aware that I can take my scooter with me when I book the accessible bedroom. I have even booked the accessible bedroom for a couple of trips later this year, one in August and one in October. But there is a problem. Since there is only one accessible bedroom on the Texas Eagle out of Fort Worth, I was unable to get reservations for the travel days I originally wanted for either trip.

I am still able to climb stairs, so getting to an upper level room is still possible. So, my question is, can I take my scooter along if I book a regular bedroom or even a roomette. According to the manufacturer, my scooter weighs 98 pounds. Would I have to crate it in order to check it? Doing so would make it very difficult to transport to the hotel at my destination unless I uncrated it right in the station, which would be difficult for me to do physically anyway.

I have read that the airlines will allow me to ride my scooter right up to the ticket counter, where they will take it and put me in a wheelchair for the trip through the airport. At the destination airport they will deliver it to me ready for use at the baggage claim. Will Amtrak do that much for me?
 

joelkfla

Engineer
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Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,435
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
I have travelled many times on Amtrak in the past, lately mostly in bedrooms. In the last couple of years, I have developed worsening lung problems (partially collapsed lungs) which cause me to get badly out of breath when walking more that about a hundred feet, so I have started using a mobility scooter whenever I will have to walk a long distance. I am aware that I can take my scooter with me when I book the accessible bedroom. I have even booked the accessible bedroom for a couple of trips later this year, one in August and one in October. But there is a problem. Since there is only one accessible bedroom on the Texas Eagle out of Fort Worth, I was unable to get reservations for the travel days I originally wanted for either trip.

I am still able to climb stairs, so getting to an upper level room is still possible. So, my question is, can I take my scooter along if I book a regular bedroom or even a roomette. According to the manufacturer, my scooter weighs 98 pounds. Would I have to crate it in order to check it? Doing so would make it very difficult to transport to the hotel at my destination unless I uncrated it right in the station, which would be difficult for me to do physically anyway.

I have read that the airlines will allow me to ride my scooter right up to the ticket counter, where they will take it and put me in a wheelchair for the trip through the airport. At the destination airport they will deliver it to me ready for use at the baggage claim. Will Amtrak do that much for me?
I think you're out of luck.

I did a trip a few years ago on the Silvers between Orlando & Washington DC, ticketed in accessible bedrooms both ways. The return train was canceled due to an approaching winter storm. The accessible bedrooms were sold out on the following day's train, and I tried and tried to get the phone agent to put me in a bedroom and check my scooter, all to no avail. It's a travel size scooter, so I even offered to disassemble it and have it checked in pieces, or have the train staff help me get the pieces on board and squeeze them into the bedroom, but she wouldn't go for it. I ended up flying home.

On a previous trip between FL & CA, I had reserved a Roomette on the Zephyr intending to check the scooter or carry it aboard in pieces and stick them in the downstairs luggage rack. After a lot of discussion at the Chicago baggage check (where the agent was filling in and not too familiar with luggage procedures), they eventually called up a luggage handler, who took me down to the basement where they "palletized" it, placing it on a pallet and wrapping it in multiple layers of plastic. When we got to EMY, the unfortunate conductor (who was of a rather slight build) said, "That's great, but they forgot that we don't have pallet facilities at this station." The poor guy had to unwrap it in the baggage car and then lift it down to the ground on his own. I felt terrible for guy.
 

Henry Kisor

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Messages
176
The last post here was in 2018. I'm getting myself a travel medical scooter and wonder what the Amtrak experience with that is like in 2022.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
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Oct 16, 2018
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Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
The last post here was in 2018. I'm getting myself a travel medical scooter and wonder what the Amtrak experience with that is like in 2022.
If you'll be traveling in a sleeper, you will need to book the Accessible Bedroom, also know as the H-room. You can do this online. On the booking page, click the box for Disability (it's next to the number of passengers selection.) Then clicking Find Trains will bring up a series of questions where you will say that you have a mobility disability and are traveling with your own wheeled mobility device. When fares are displayed, it will then automatically display only the Accessible Bedroom in the Rooms column.

If you'll be traveling in coach, I advise booking over the phone and requesting both the wheelchair space and the accompanying seat for transfer. There is no additional charge. Mobility scooters, especially travel-size ones, can be tippy and are not recommended for occupancy in a moving vehicle, aside from being rather uncomfortable for sitting on for long periods of time.

For boarding and deboarding, a portable lift will be used at low platform stations, or a portable bridge plate at high-level platforms. The portable lift is a rather involved process. For boarding, first someone pushes it to the door you're boarding at and sets it up. Then you drive onto the lift and make a very tight 90 degree turn. Then the Amtrak employee uses a hand crank to raise the lift to the level of the door, and you drive onto the train.

A bridge plate simply covers the gap between the train and the platform. You just drive across it.

Amtrak says handicapped passengers will be boarded first. I have found this not to be the case, unless being assisted by a redcap at a major station. You'll also be the last to get off. Don't let them forget you! That happened to me once in coach. Fortunately, it was an extended stop; I had to walk out the vestibule and get someone's attention.

In the room, you'll have to figure out a good place to park the scooter that won't block you getting in and out and getting to the toilet. In the Viewliner II, I like to back it up to the shower door, pointing the front toward the seat. Be sure to engage the motor so it doesn't roll around.

You won't be able to use the scooter to move about the train. If you're on a single level train, the wheelchair space in the coach and sleeper nearest to the food service car should be at the end of the car adjacent to the food service car. It might be possible to ride the scooter, but it's easier to walk the short distance if you're able. If you're in a coach or sleeper that is not next to the food service car, you can either walk through the intervening cars or ask the car attendant to bring food to your location. This is supposed to be available in coach, but I've only used it in sleepers. In a bilevel train (Superliners), wheelchair accommodations are on the lower level, and you need to go up the stairs and possibly down again to get to food service. It's easiest to have the attendant bring the food to you.

I've only run into a problem once, when I was booked in coach and a lady using a cane was sitting in the accompanying seat at the wheelchair space, and she did not want to move. The coach attendant found an empty seat in the next coach and assisted her there. Other than that, all Amtrak employees have been very helpful and cheerful (aside from being forgotten a couple of times.) You might think they would be unhappy about having to crank up the lift, but I've never seen it.
 

PaulDobbs

Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
101
Location
Fort Worth
I had my first experience with traveling with a scooter in August of this year (2022). It was on a trip from Fort Worth to St. Louis. The first thing I learned was that, depending on the train involved, you may need to book well in advance. The Texas Eagle currently has only a single sleeper, and thus only a single accessible bedroom. Even though I was booking a couple of months in advance, I was unable to get the travel dates I wanted and had to shorten my trip by two days (one on each end).

Due to track work, a bus was substituted between Fort Worth and Longview. My scooter was disassembled and placed in the luggage compartment of the bus. Other than that, the trip was uneventful. At all three stations (Longview, St. Louis and Fort Worth, a ramp was used to get onto the car. My scooter had no problem making the turn down the aisle to get to the accessible bedroom.

I have a Pride Go-go Elite Traveler 3-wheel scooter, and it fit into the Superliner accessible room with no problems. I was able to park it against the wall with its rear end toward the bed, leaving plenty of space for me to get around the room.The seat of the scooter even served as a table to support the ventilator I use at night.

The service from the attendants was very good, with no problems getting my meals.

I have a trip scheduled at the end of September/beginning of October from Fort Worth to Los Angeles. I booked it immediately after I booked the St. Louis trip (about 3-4 months in advance), and was still not able to book the return date I wanted. So, the biggest problem that I have discovered about travel with the scooter is the single accessible room available on the TE.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,435
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
I had my first experience with traveling with a scooter in August of this year (2022). It was on a trip from Fort Worth to St. Louis. The first thing I learned was that, depending on the train involved, you may need to book well in advance. The Texas Eagle currently has only a single sleeper, and thus only a single accessible bedroom. Even though I was booking a couple of months in advance, I was unable to get the travel dates I wanted and had to shorten my trip by two days (one on each end).
I think this problem arises out of the reduced consists currently running. I only made a few Amtrak trips prior to the pandemic, but I never had a problem getting an Accessible Bedroom back then, especially on the Silvers, with a total of 5 sleepers running on the 2 trains combined.

I didn't make the distinction it in my original post, but I think the Superliners all use the portable bridge plate, or ramp if you will. The portable lifts are only for single-level trains at low platforms.
ETA: Per subsequent posts, apparently they do use the lifts, at least at some stations.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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I didn't make the distinction it in my original post, but I think the Superliners all use the portable bridge plate, or ramp if you will. The portable lifts are only for single-level trains at low platforms.
There are lift shacks where only Superliners tread, so it's possible that some stations still use the lifts with Superliners, although I could be wrong.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
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Jan 10, 2018
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This information is incredibly detailed and useful. Would it be possible, mods, for it to be copied into a sticky item under Amtrak information, so that it is more easily found by those who might need it?
 
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There are lift shacks where only Superliners tread, so it's possible that some stations still use the lifts with Superliners, although I could be wrong.
"Lift shack"? Are you speaking of the locked cage that contains a portable lift device?
I've seen those wheeled up to the door of a Superliner sleeper. A wheelchair or scooter can be wheeled onto the lift platform which is then cranked up to door level where a hinged plate is put in place to cover the gap. The mobility device can then be wheeled into the car.
I've seen those in use in Tucson and other stations.wheelchair-lift-passenger-train-member-station-staff-pushing-portable-along-platford-deland-st...jpg
 
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joelkfla

Engineer
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"Lift shack"? Are you speaking of the locked cage that contains a portable lift device?
I've seen those wheeled up to the door of a Superliner sleeper. A wheelchair or scooter can be wheeled onto the lift platform which is then cranked up to door level where a hinged plate is put in place to cover the gap. The mobility device can then be wheeled into the car.
I've seen those in use in Tucson and other stations.View attachment 29684
I don't do many Superliners, being based in FL, especially now with no same-day transfers from the SuperStar. Do they have level boarding? Do some stations have platforms raised just enough to allow level boarding, and others not?

Guess I'll find out next week. I'll be on Cap Ltd to CHI.
 
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Joined
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I don't do many Superliners, being based in FL, especially now with no same-day transfers from the SuperStar. Do they have level boarding?

Guess I'll find out next week. I'll be on Cap Ltd to CHI.
Tucson does not have level boarding for the Superliners on the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle. Take a look on the Tucson Virtual Railfan Camera. I don't know the status of other stations but, it appears it can go either way.
 

Henry Kisor

Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Messages
176
Many thanks to all, especially JoelKFla, for this minutely detailed information. I have used the H room several times but had had no idea it could be booked online. I have a Pride GoGo Elite Traveller scooter as PaulDobbs does, except it's a 4-wheeler. I'm thinking that when a Superliner H room is booked and changing my dates isn't convenient, I could book the family room (if available) and disassemble the scooter, placing the components on one of the child beds.
 

joelkfla

Engineer
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Oct 16, 2018
Messages
2,435
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Many thanks to all, especially JoelKFla, for this minutely detailed information. I have used the H room several times but had had no idea it could be booked online. I have a Pride GoGo Elite Traveller scooter as PaulDobbs does, except it's a 4-wheeler. I'm thinking that when a Superliner H room is booked and changing my dates isn't convenient, I could book the family room (if available) and disassemble the scooter, placing the components on one of the child beds.
Maybe. But, as i posted above, after a snowstorm prediction canceled my train, I tried to get them to let me disassemble my scooter and store the pieces in a Viewliner bedroom without success.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Delaware
Many thanks to all, especially JoelKFla, for this minutely detailed information. I have used the H room several times but had had no idea it could be booked online. I have a Pride GoGo Elite Traveller scooter as PaulDobbs does, except it's a 4-wheeler. I'm thinking that when a Superliner H room is booked and changing my dates isn't convenient, I could book the family room (if available) and disassemble the scooter, placing the components on one of the child beds.
Just for info. The H room will only show online for those who identify as having a mobility device. Though I book as a PWD (passenger with disability) my disability, same as your non-mobility one, does not qualify for the H room so the H room doesn’t show, unless it’s available less than 14 days before my travel (I usually book more than 14 days for travel).
 
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