January 28, 2020

Duckworth & Durbin Meet With Amtrak CEO, Secure Accessibility Improvements for Customers with Disabilities


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Security, which has jurisdiction over Amtrak, and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson after Amtrak mistakenly charged a group of wheelchair advocates $25,000 to travel from Chicago to Bloomington-Normal, IL, before ultimately backing down, admitting the charge was improper and apologizing. During the meeting, Anderson committed to several of the requests Durbin and Duckworth made yesterday, including reviewing Amtrak’s disability policies nationwide, working with the Members of Congress to bring disability voices to its Board of Directors and ensuring more focused attention to accessibility issues through a direct report to the CEO. A photo of the meeting is available here.

“I’m glad Mr. Anderson is approaching these issues with the seriousness they deserve and committing to several key accessibility requests that Senator Durbin and I made yesterday. Once implemented, these measures will help Amtrak begin earning back the trust of the disability community after this frustrating and offensive incident,” Duckworth said. “It is long past time for Amtrak to implement policies that go above bare minimum federal requirements and do more to protect the dignity of passengers with a disability. I’ll keep working to alongside Senator Durbin and Rep. García to hold Amtrak accountable and help make sure that every American is able to access safe and affordable travelas protected by law.”

“Amtrak made an awful decision when it tried to charge passengers with disabilities $25,000 for a ride from Chicago to Bloomington-Normal,” Durbin said. “I’m glad it corrected this issue and that Mr. Anderson has committed to implementing much needed changes to its accessibility policies.  It’s imperative Amtrak updates its policies to ensure that Americans with disabilities are treated fairly and are able to access Amtrak trains without facing discrimination.”

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL-4) joined Duckworth in writing a letter to Anderson yesterday. In the letter, they expressed their disappointment in Amtrak for its initial price quote and urged Amtrak to review and improve its disability and accessibility policies, create a new position on Amtrak’s Leadership Team and work with Congress to establish a new seat on the Amtrak Board of Directors to be filled by a member of the disability community. Duckworth also issued a statement just over a week ago calling on Amtrak to apologize and requesting a meeting with Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson.