April 11, 2024

Duckworth, Capito Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Promote Accessibility at Amtrak Stations Across the Country


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)—both members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (CST)—introduced bipartisan legislation to help break down unnecessary barriers that Americans with disabilities continue to experience at Amtrak rail stations across the country. Building on Duckworth’s All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act, which became law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is helping improve transportation accessibility nationwide, the bipartisan Think DIFFERENTLY Transportation Act would help bring Amtrak stations up to standards enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by requiring the rail agency to submit annual reports to Congress on the status of its compliance with accessibility standards set by the ADA.

“When the ADA was signed into law, it enshrined the promise that intercity passenger rail would become accessible within 20 years—and yet, more than 30 years later, too many Amtrak stations fail to live up to that promise,” said Senator Duckworth. “To build on the progress that my ASAP Act in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is already making, I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Capito to help ensure Amtrak does more to improve accessibility across its rail stations, too. Whether they’d like to travel by transit, rail or plane, all Americans with disabilities should be able to safely and easily access the transportation systems they need to get around—and I won’t stop working until that’s a reality.”

“In the fall, my hometown of Charleston unveiled its upgrades that made the station compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards thanks to over $6 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I helped craft. However, there are still stations across the country where train transportation is not accessible for everyone. I’m pleased to join Senator Duckworth in introducing this legislation that will hold Amtrak stations accountable to being accessible to disabled passengers,” said Senator Capito.

Amtrak serves over 28 million riders per year. However, despite the ADA requiring intercity passenger rail to become accessible within a 20-year time frame, that is not yet the case across Amtrak stations. From 2017 to 2021, Amtrak received $275 million in federal funds to continue making accessibility upgrades and will continue to receive federal funding to do so through 2025 as a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. As of July 2023, Amtrak has only made 30% of its 385 stations accessible to those with disabilities.

The legislation is supported by the National Disability Rights Network.

This legislation is an identical companion bill to Representative Marc Molinaro’s bipartisan H.R. 6248, which passed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure via voice vote on January 31, 2024. The bill was originally cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ-10), Troy Nehls (R-TX-22), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large), Jenniffer Gonzales-Colon (R-PR), Chris Pappas (D-NH-1) and Andre Carson (D-IN-7).

A copy of the bill text is available on the Senator’s website.

Duckworth has long advocated that Americans with disabilities should receive the dignity and respect they deserve while traveling. Duckworth authored the ASAP Act provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provide $1.75 billion over the next five years to help build ramps, install elevators and make other improvements to help ensure our nation’s transit systems are actually, finally usable for those with disabilities.

As Chair of the CST Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation and one of the authors of the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023 that passed through the CST committee, Duckworth successfully secured several provisions that will improve safety for consumers and enhance protections for travelers with disabilities in our aviation system.

Additionally, as a result of legislation that was written by Duckworth, the Department of Transportation implemented a rule requiring air carriers to disclose for the first time how many checked bags, wheelchairs and motorized scooters they damage or mishandle each month.