‘That is progress’: Amtrak to pay out claims from ADA settlement

Amtrak’s $ 2.25 million fund is open to claims from those with mobility disabilities who did not have access to its wards.

Amtrak’s $ 2.25 million fund is open to claims from those with mobility disabilities who did not have access to its wards. The fund is the result of the agreement reached by the Department of Justice and Amtrak in 2020 after the transportation company was found to have violated the Disabled Americans Act for decades.

Amtrak failed to comply with the ADA until July 26, 2010, which gave them 20 years from the date the law was passed in 1990.

The complaint filed by the division alleged that Amtrak “violated and continues to violate the ADA by failing to make existing stations on its intercity rail system easily accessible and usable for people with disabilities”.

On the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Amtrak entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to open train stations and train employees to meet ADA requirements.

“Transport is the linchpin for people with disabilities to access the full economic, social and cultural benefits of our country,” said Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, of the settlement last year. “The deal is a historic victory for people with disabilities, Amtrak, the rule of law and the promise of equal opportunities for all Americans.”

In a statement to CBS News, Amtrak said it spent $ 109 million on ADA-related projects to improve design and construction in the past fiscal year. The company said its action “not only resolves the lawsuit, but most importantly builds on and protects important aspects of Amtrak’s longstanding ADA compliance efforts.”

Thomas Morgan plans to be one of those who file a lawsuit.

Morgan, who uses a wheelchair, faced a travel career on a surprise trip from Randolph-Macon College in the spring of 2016. When he arrived at the Ashland, Virginia, Amtrak station, he found the entire facility inaccessible. Morgan was unaware that there was no wheelchair access at the station. The only way to get on the train was by stairs.

“I’m usually not a big believer in disability because I’d rather talk it out and not cause inconvenience to others,” Morgan told CBS News. “For me, my disability is not really central to my life. I don’t realize until it becomes a problem. “

Morgan contacted Amtrak and the company installed an elevator on one of the two platforms in Ashland.

This was a temporary, inconsistent solution. Morgan had to contact the station prior to arrival, and occasionally the train would run without a lift and leave Morgan stranded.

Once agreed with the DOJ, Amtrak will work over 10 years to design at least 135 stations to be accessible, 90 of those stations to be fully built, and at least 45 more to be under construction. This gives people with mobility impairments the opportunity to move freely.

“That’s great. I mean this is progress for me, “said Morgan.

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