Is this enough compensation for a “totally inappropriate” room on Amtrak?

By | November 30th, 2016

Anne Evans and her husband, Steven, booked a 50th anniversary trip aboard Amtrak’s Empire Builder from Chicago to Glacier National Park in Montana.

They paid for what Amtrak markets as an “accessible room,” which their website says has ample space. It didn’t.

You would expect that there would be plenty of room for the Evanses and a wheelchair in a safe environment. But Anne Evans was dissatisfied with the room, calling it “totally inappropriate.”

The Americans With Disabilities Act is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services and to participate in State and local government programs and services. It sets minimum requirements for space layout in order to facilitate wheelchair securement on public transport, and Amtrak extolls its compliance with the act on its website.

Evans claims there were no grab bars on the wall or in the bathroom and that their accommodations were so far from the dining car that they decided to eat in the room. Their room was too small for them to eat in comfortably.


Evans also says that both of them were injured by levers used to convert their seats into a bed.

“I felt discriminated against for being handicapped,” she says.

Evans first complained to her agent at Legacy Travel, who booked the trip for her. She and the agent also complained to Amtrak Vacations, which is operated by Yankee Leisure Group. Evans claims that she attempted to resolve this herself while on the trip, but she had great difficulty with Amtrak’s representatives and automated phone system.

Related story:   How Amtrak got one holiday traveler back on track

“I can’t begin to explain how horrible and disappointing that whole trip was for us,” she says. “A total waste of money and very stressful instead of fun.”

Amtrak’s Empire Builder Route Guide celebrates the comfort and relaxation of train travel. Clearly, this vacation was neither comfortable nor relaxing.

Evans’ travel agent worked with Amtrak Vacations on a settlement, and Amtrak Vacations offered a $500 voucher towards future travel.

“Considering the fact that I told them the accessible room was unsafe as well as uncomfortable and unpleasant, I don’t think this was a very satisfactory resolution,” she said.

Did Amtrak offer enough compensation?

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Note: Our advocates have sent this to Amtrak for another review and there’s an update on this case that we’ll share with you soon. In the meantime, we’ve featured the Evanses story today because our team feels it’s worth discussing the kind of compensation Amtrak is offering. Is a $500 voucher for a train the customer feels is unacceptable an adequate offer?



  • Alan Gore

    I’ve done a long trip on Amtrak and though it’s a unique and nostalgic experience, accessible it isn’t. Those cars, with their narrow stairways and tiny bathrooms, were designed long before accessibility became a criterion. A new generation of cars will have to be designed with this in mind.

  • FQTVLR

    I have had personal experience with an accessible room on Amtrak. The total area for the room was about 63 square feet. It was difficult to handle my friend’s wheel chair in the room. Our room did have grab bars, but another accessible room on the train did not. My friend made the arrangements for the trip and had researched the accommodations carefully. We were not expecting space but still were a bit dismayed by the tight fit. (On the second part of our trip I booked a separate room and simply went to help my friend at times.)
    The OP’s agent should have discussed this with her clients to make them aware that an accessible room on Amtrak is bigger than other accommodations on the trains but is not spacious by any stretch of the imagination. I am not sure about the amount of compensation, but I think that the TA might have not done enough research to ensure that a train journey was the appropriate trip for this couple given the OP’s limitations.

  • Hanope

    Yeah, not sure I’d call it “ample space”, but really “[just] enough space”.

  • Annie M

    How much to compensate them depends on how much they paid for their trip. Is $500 half of their cost, 1/3, what?

    If the room was not ADA compliant, they should complain to Justice Dept. if in fact the room was described incorrectly. But it seems more that this was really not the right vacation for them.

    But take out the complaint about the dining room location. There is no mention of having to have the accessible cabins near a dining room.

    https://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm

  • cscasi

    Since I have not traveled on Amtrak for years, I can’t really comment on this other than I do know that the rooms were small then and I can only assume that they have not changed much over the years.
    As far as saying that some of the designated rooms meet the ADA Act; well, perhaps Amtrak needs to do a better job of providing information for the folk/travel agents that need it; like diagrams which would indicate the layout of the rooms, their dimensions and if there were hand grab bars and where they are located; etc. Then, perhaps those who are in need of ADA rooms would have a clear picture of what to expect and whether or not the rooms are suitable for them for their travel needs.
    If the rooms are still small, as was mentioned in others’ comments, the rooms are only so big and Amtrak can only do what it can to make some of the rooms more accessible; without having to redesign some of its cars.
    As far as the compensation offered by Amtrak, I believe it is probably fair – if this customer is still willing to ride Amtrak again. If not, then perhaps the compensation should be in cash.

  • Jeff W.

    I am going to agree with most of the comments so far. A train trip is a rather unique experience, but the space on the train is limited. Train cars are limited in their length and width.

    Being close to the dining car has nothing to do with disability. Maybe it was far from that car, but closer to an observation deck or quiet car,

  • sirwired

    Well, if they advertise it as an “accessible” room, then they need to deliver. If they simply cannot provide wheelchair-usable rooms, that’s fine, but they need to then not claim they do.

    (This isn’t really an ADA issue; the ADA requires “reasonable accommodations”… I can totally see the realities of decades-old train car designs simply not being able to accommodate wheelchair sleeper rooms, and the ADA doesn’t require such things be fixed.)

  • Rebecca

    I have a hard time believing Amtrak isn’t ADA compliant. When I searched, it appears that there is normally one accessible room per train. It may only be reserved by someone showing proof of disability until 2 weeks prior to departure. Then, anyone may book it. I’m sorry the OP didn’t enjoy the vacation, but I think this is more a matter of choosing the wrong vacation to suit their needs than Amtrak not providing something they were promised. If they did indeed request and stay in an accessible room, and that room did not meet ADA standards, they should file a formal complaint.

  • Rebecca
  • I rode the Empire Builder in May in a bedroom. We had a coach and a chair. The beds were bunk beds with the lower one being larger than the upper bunk. For our beds, there was no lever. The top bunk was pushed up against the wall and locked and the lower bed was like a sofa bed where it folded under the back of the sofa. To me it sounds like there was not enough research done on this trip as the cars are two leveled, the train rocks so it can be difficult moving from one car to the next, the bathroom held the shower so not sure if there was room for a safety bar – no where to fall. The caveat in all this is how it was marketed and what research did they or their travel agent do to make sure this was a trip for them.

  • mbods2002

    Then they shouldn’t advertise the rooms as “accessible”. That is the problem. You and I would do our research and look into room dimensions etc. but should unsuspecting, trusting disabled people be to blame? Just doesn’t sound right, to me anyway.

  • El Dorado Hills

    There is something here that I am missing. I live in Northern CA. I have taken Amtrak the southern route (via LA) to Ft. Worth three times and once the northern route through SLC to Chicago and then down to Ft. Worth. The compartment cars are somewhat different but all share the same basic characteristics and floor plan. Chair, couch (lower bunk) and a very small compact bathroom/showers. Unfortunately they are not designed to accommodate a person who can be moved only in a wheel chair. A major point here is he dining car. If anyone has traveled on Amtrak they know that going from car to car on a moving train is a real experience – not one can be done easily and safely pushing something in a wheel chair. I am not sure how much investigation the OP did but it becomes clear that, unfortunately, a person confined to a wheel chair doesn’t belong traveling overnight on an Amtrak train.

  • 42NYC

    $500 cash would have been reasonable. A $500 voucher, not so much.

  • DepartureLevel

    Why don’t these rail and airline companies just give people their MONEY back ? It’s obvious that if they are so disappointed, they will not ever want to use them again “by voucher”. That’s what these companies count on –
    1. The disappointed passengers will not WANT to use them again. No loss to Amtrak.
    2. They will put the voucher aside and “forget” about it. No loss to Amtrak.
    3. They can live without these passengers ever using them again, there is a cast of thousands lined up in their place. No loss to Amtrak.

  • Mel LeCompte Jr.

    Unless I am missing something, some reasonable accommodations could have been achieved easily. Safety/ grab bars could have been installed, and the ADA car
    could have been located much closer to the dining car. Two simple moves to allow the disabled traveler a bit of comfort.

  • Mel LeCompte Jr.

    Um, being close to the dining car has nothing to do with disability? What about those without legs, or who get short of breath easily, have a musclar/ bone structure issue, suspect to falls, or have to lug an oxygen tank around? Take a look at parking lots. There is a reason those handicapped parking spots are near the door.

  • Mel LeCompte Jr.

    How is the compensation generous?

    “Our trains are clearly not able to be remodeled to conform to your particular needs as a disabled person. Here’s a coupon for you to do it again!”

  • Peter Varhol

    Amtrak gets well over a billion dollars a year in US Federal government subsidiaries, so they should darned well know the regulations. From the comments below, apparently they are more than willing to take our tax dollars and not follow the applicable regulations.

  • Lindabator

    actually, the roomettes are 3’6″ by 6’6″ while the accessible ones are 6’9″ by 9’5″, and also have a toilet in the room, so they are substantially larger. but I don’t know what she was expecting? You are correct that this is train travel, so not going to be huge rooms

  • Lindabator

    since the rooms are about twice the size, AND include a toilet in their own room, they are accessible — just not lavish – her expectations may have been a bit out of touch with the reality of train travel

  • Lindabator

    and they do accommodate them — but within reason. A train, by design, is not a lavishly large mode of transportation, so perhaps she should have flown, or taken a motorcoach tour instead

  • sirwired

    I was getting the impression that the room was too small, and therefore grab bars would not have helped.

    And part of the advertised service for the accessible room is in-room meal service, eliminating the need for the room to be located next to the dining car. (And there may not be an “ADA” car at all; just individual rooms in regular cars… they can’t all be next to the dining car.)

  • Bill___A

    Amtrak should be required to obey the law, within the constraints of how they can, with the sizes and widths of train cars. I see it as a legal compliance issue. If they are found to not be in legal compliance, then I think compensation is in order. However, what we are going by here is the passenger’s interpretation of it. I think this needs to be evaluated by an expert in the field.

  • Rebecca

    There is an ADA car. There are specific rules for reserving it on Amtrak’s website. There’s also a diagram showing room layouts, a description of any services they provide, a list of specifications and FAQs, AND special number to call concerning traveling with a wheelchair.

  • Rebecca

    ADA states a reasonable accomodation must be made. Amtrak specifically offers delivery of meals to the room for anyone that can’t make it to the dining car. I can’t see how that wouldn’t be considered reasonable. They will bring it to you for free.

  • sirwired

    A quick googling didn’t show specific ADA cars, just ADA rooms. Where are you seeing ADA cars listed?

  • Alan Gore

    The article described an accessible roomette, but what about the rest of the train? Amtrak cars have two levels and connect with each other on the upper deck. Assuming that handicapped roomettes are on the lower level, you still have to climb stairs to go to where you can go to other cars. Perhaps you can have food delivered in the accessible roomette, but one of the nice things about train travel is not being trapped in your seat. You can go over to the dining car for a real sit-down meal. When you pass through spectacular scenery, you want to go to the lounge car with its wraparound windows.

    You also would need to get on and off at accessible stations. At my local Amtrak station, the doors open about two feet above the platform. When a train stops, each door attendant must whisk out a tiny stepstool to place on the platform. Non-spry passengers have to balance on these like circus elephants as they step up or down from the train.

  • OzJohnno

    As an Australian not having traveled on Amtrak I can’t comment on the room or its facilities But I can address the compensation issue. When is a voucher for future travel compensation? Compensation is defined as “something, typically money, awarded to someone in recognition of loss, suffering, or injury” What Amtrak offered was a marketing tool not compensation. I believe that the offer of a voucher is not acceptable and some form of real monetary compensation should be forthcoming from Amtrak but if they’re like most travel companies they’ll just hope the matter goes away and they can open another box of unsuspecting customers and treat them the same way.

  • pauletteb

    Same with my local station, New London. The historic station building has an outside lift for wheelchairs, but only in the back, on the track side.

  • taxed2themax

    I agree.. ADA and the ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act) are quite detailed , as is much of Federal Law/Statues – as such, I’d defer to an expert in relevant case law/applicable statues and someone with direct factual information as to Amtrak’s carriages — to determine if they are, or were in this case, in compliance with law..

    IF they ARE, then I think Amtrak’s offer is well within reasonable or even beyond as the facts would say the carriages meet law. IF they are NOT in compliance, then that’s something quite different and the remedy to me would be very different.

  • Andrew

    Unfortunately, since (as you point out) access between cars is only on the upper level, and the cars have no elevators, it is physically impossible for someone unable to climb stairs to move from one car to another while the train is between stations.

  • Andrew

    Which regulations are Amtrak not following?

    No doubt that the Evanses were surprised by and upset with the situation, but that doesn’t mean that anybody broke any rules.

  • Andrew

    And there may not be an “ADA” car at all; just individual rooms in regular cars… they can’t all be next to the dining car.

    Correct, each Superliner sleeper car has precisely one Accessible Bedroom (aside from some transition sleepers – a technicality I’m not going into here).

    The typical Empire Builder consist has several sleeper cars lined up in front of the dining car. Behind the dining car are several coach cars, followed by a lounge car, some more coach cars, and finally another sleeper car at the rear of the train.

    Why is one sleeper car so far away from the others? Because the train splits overnight in Spokane, with the lounge car and everything behind it going to Portland and the cars ahead of the lounge going to Seattle.

    My guess is that the Evanses were in the Portland sleeper, perhaps by chance, perhaps because all of the other Accessible Bedrooms had already been booked, perhaps because the price tag was lower on the Portland section. (Tickets on trains 7 and 27 – the Seattle and Portland sections, respectively – are often priced differently, even for trips entirely east of Spokane.) This would have placed them a full six cars from the dining car, assuming four coach cars.

    A train is a long, skinny thing. If it’s important for you to be close to a particular car, then ask when booking your tickets how close you will be to that car.

  • Andrew

    Incorrect. There is no fully ADA-compliant Superliner car, since Superliner cars are bilevel cars without elevators, with access from one car to the next only on the upper level. It is physically impossible for anyone unable to climb stairs to reach the upper level of any Superliner car.

    There is a designated ADA-compliant bedroom on the lower level of most Superliner sleeper cars, and there is designated ADA-compliant seating on the lower level of most Superliner coach cars.

  • Andrew

    Evans also says that both of them were injured by levers used to convert their seats into a bed.

    The sleeping car has an attendant whose job responsibilities include converting rooms between day mode (seats) and night mode (beds). Did the attendant fail to explain this to the Evanses when they boarded? Were the Evanses unable to contact the attendant at the appropriate time (perhaps the call button wasn’t working), or did they simply choose to operate equipment that they hadn’t been trained to operate?

  • Rebecca

    I apologize, you’re correct. I didn’t use the right word. I meant that each train has at least 1 ADA room, not that an entire car only had ADA rooms. Everything else I said is correct, however. That’s what I get for not reading it back first, which I swear I normally do.

  • cscasi

    Thank you. I did not know that was there. As I said, it has been years since I traveled on Amtrak. But, we can see from what is shown, the room is not big by any means and I can see some really disabled people having problems with what is available. I guess they have to figure out ways to make it work or use other transportation.

  • Rebecca

    I weigh about 120lbs and, frankly, there isn’t enough room for me. That looks very claustrophobic. An airplane can get me there significantly faster, albeit also with a bit of claustrophobia. I never had any reason to look at Amtrak sleeper cars, and now I’ll never have a reason to look again!

  • PsyGuy

    Here’s my issue, what research did the LW do in advance, and what do they expect Amtrak to do, remodel the whole train. The rooms are what the rooms are, I’m not hearing anything that says the room was substandard compared to other rooms, but that it didn’t meet their specific needs and expectations.

  • PsyGuy

    Yes this is true, but that’s how the train is built, they can’t wave a wand and connect the two.

  • PsyGuy

    I wouldn’t ride Amtrak, but I have taken some very nice train rides in Europe and Asia, both trips were remarkable lifetime experiences I will cherish.

  • PsyGuy

    Agree, reasonable need not be acceptable.

  • PsyGuy

    You are confusing an AD compliant room, with an ADA compliant train, the rooms are compliant, the entirety of the train less so.

  • michael anthony

    No, it’s not that they are “a bit out of touch”. ADA is clear on what must be done for those with disabilities. Especislly those areas, like hotels and trains, yhat offer overnight accomodations. At minimum, grab bars, especially in bathrooms are a must. And you can’t “excuse” your way out of it. This is exactly the type of case that should end up in a courtroom.

  • michael anthony

    For those suggesting that overnight train travel may not be right for paxs with disabilities, then you miss the point of ADA entirely. It’s to enable those with disabilities the rigjt to go about daily living, like the able bodied, without major hurdles. For example, buildings are sued all the time for only having steps to enter the building. Amtrak knows the profile of a typical traveler and knows they serve a significant number of elderly people. The trains must be compliant. Since ADA became law, they’ve ordered a tremendous number of new cars. Given that, there is no excuse. Imagine yourself being disabled and being told train travel is not a good choice for you. It’s shameful.

  • Alan Gore

    This is my whole point: making Amtrak ADA-compliant would require a complete redesign of the cars.

  • Annie M

    Then folks need to complain to the Justice Dept. that Amtrak is NOT ADA compliant. Unless they receive be complaints and follow up with Amtrak, it won’t be fixed. Complaining here isn’t going to help. File complaints with the Justice Dept., there are links to do so.

    https://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm

  • Annie M

    If folks don’t file complaints it will never be fixed.

  • JimLoomis

    Whoa! I’m sorry, but Mrs. Evans is way off base. Let is start with the physical constraints over which Amtrak has no control–starting with with the width of the rail car: approximately 10 feet. Sorry, that’s what all railroads have to work with. The accessible bedrooms–there is one in every sleeping car, both single level and bi-level–accommodate two people and include an en suite lavatory. While I have not personally checked to see if there is a grab bar in the accessible lavatories, I do know that renovated lavatories in Superliners do have them.

    Because of the movement of the train, getting to the dining car can be an adventure for all passengers. You take it slow and walk with feet wider apart than normal. If unwilling or unable to make the trek, the Evans no doubt had their car attendant bring their meals to their accommodations. As a matter of routine, I always request my accommodations in the sleeping car immediately adjacent to the dining car. In any event, there are only three sleeping cars.

    Amtrak has spent huge amounts of money to become ADA compliant and it’s been a complicated and hugely expensive effort. But because of the physical limitations that come with trains and train travel, it won’t ever be perfect.

    In my opinion–and I have recorded almost 200,000 miles of train travel in the U.S. and Canada, and I blog and have written a book on the subject*–Mrs. Evans had unrealistic expectations. Certainly her characterization of the bedroom as “unsafe” is off base. Frankly, based on her quoted comments and what I believe to be unfair criticisms, she sounds like a very demanding person.

    * All Aboard–The Complete North American Train Travel Guide (4th Edition); http://www.trainsandtravel.com

  • SierraRose 49

    The Evans agent at Legacy Travel should have reviewed Amtrak accommodations PRIOR to booking. Amtrak’s website has 3-D tours of all accommodations with interior measurements. The accessible bedroom clearly states all the features. It is not ADA-compliant. As Alan and others have said, a total redesign of the sleeping car would have to done to make it ADA. Doubt that’s going to happen since Amtrak is somewhat of a dinosaur when it comes to travel in the US. The Evans also said that both of them were injured by levers used to convert their seats into a bed. This shouldn’t have happened. The sleeping car has attendants who convert the seats into beds and prepare them for sleeping at night and re-convert them into seats at day – at least they did on our Amtrak trip. As for dining – yes, it is on the upper level and yes, it is not accessible for someone in a wheelchair. But meals which are included should have been delivered to their room. Again, their agent should have made this clear.

  • SierraRose 49

    The “accessible” room on AMTRAK is not ADA-compliant. I think there is a difference. The Evans agent at Legacy Travel should have reviewed the “accessible” bedroom which is clearly explained on the Amtrak’s website. To make the Amtrak “accessible” bedroom would require a complete redesign of the sleeping car. And given the dimensions of a rail car, that may be very difficult to do, especially since train travel in the US never has and never will be a Grand Hotel on wheels.

  • SierraRose 49

    I’m not sure ADA-compliant and “accessible” (which is the term Amtrak uses) are one and the same. I did not see anywhere on the Amtrak website the use of the word ADA or ADA-compliant. Guess this is something the courts would need to find out.

  • SierraRose 49

    Thanks for posting your website. What a wealth of information you have shared. Have bookmarked for future reference. Two things we have in common – A love of Hawaii and a love of train travel. Aloha!

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    The last time we traveled on Amtrak was in 1988 from Fargo to Glacier. I do not recall having to go up stairs to go from car to car. You simply went through the doors between cars. There were, however, stairs to the “Vista Dome” observation car. Could someone please comment on that? Thanks

  • Fishplate

    The same step stools that have been used in train travel for literally a hundred years. For whatever that’s worth.

  • SierraRose 49

    I think the courts will ultimately have to decide whether an Amtrak “accessible” bedroom is or is not ADA-compliant. The Evans “claimed there were no grab bars on the wall or in the bathroom and that their accommodations were so far from the dining car that they decided to eat in the room. Their room was too small for them to eat in comfortably.”

    Their room was 6’9″ by 9’5″ and that may not be big enough to accommodate a person in a wheelchair and a companion and a room without grab bars may be in violation of ADA. Mrs. Evans said the room was “totally inappropriate” and that she felt “felt discriminated against for being handicapped.”

    I don’t know ADA law and I’m not sure if the word “accessible” means “ADA-compliant.” Amtrak does not use the term “ADA” anywhere in its room description. So is Amtrak in violation of ADA or not? That’s for the courts to determine.

  • Andrew

    So when you say “The ‘accessible’ room on AMTRAK is not ADA-compliant” you mean that you have no idea whether or not it’s ADA-compliant. Gotcha.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act has specific requirements. The room in question either satisfied or did not satisfy those requirements. That Anne Evans believed that the room was “totally inappropriate” and that they “felt discriminated against” has no bearing on whether the room met the requirements of ADA.

    If, based on your understanding of ADA requirements and of the Amtrak Superliner Accessible Bedroom, you believe Amtrak to be in violation of ADA, then please spell out why. But if you don’t know one way or the other, then please don’t accuse.

  • SierraRose 49

    Andrew … please forgive me. I meant to say “The “accessible” room on Amtrak MAY NOT be ADA-compliant.” Sorry, I was responding to an earlier post.

    And in a subsequent comment I admitted that I don’t know ADA law and I’m not sure if Amtrak’s use of the word “accessible” means the same thing “ADA-compliant.”

    Amtrak doesn’t use the term “ADA” anywhere in its room description. Therefore, is Amtrak in violation of ADA or not? I admit it. I don’t know, and because I don’t I am NOT accusing Amtrak of being out of compliance.

    If Mrs. Evans believes Amtrak “discriminated against” her and broke the law by not having grab bars and by not being able to eat comfortably because the room is too small for a wheelchair and a companion she should file a complaint.

  • Lindabator

    they are regulated by the government, and DO offer ADA rooms, but they cannot make a train completely compliant, so they offer meal deliveries for free, as they know it may not be easy to get to a dining car – just because that was not something the LIKED doesn’t mean it is not compliant

  • Lindabator

    but they ALSO have to understand that there is only 1 cabin per train component – and that is why they CANNOT guarantee your proximity to the dining car – which is why these cabins offer free meal deliveries — they HAVE made accommodations – just didn’t build a single large car for these folks – which is not what they are required to do

  • jae1

    From the FRA, regarding ADA compliance (http://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/3044), issued in December 2012:

    “This guidance applies to all new and remanufactured passenger rail cars,…

    Part 38 provides “minimum guidelines and requirements for accessibility standards in part 37 . . . for transportation vehicles required to be accessible by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.).” There are a few instances where specific design standards are not provided in Part 38. For example, design standards specific to features of food service cars, including lounge or bistro cars, and several features found in sleeping compartment cars, are not described in Part 38. Nonetheless, it is the position of the Department that when specific design standards are not provided in Part 38, it remains the responsibility of the passenger railroad to design and build rail car features that are usable by people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs.

    In designing and building rail cars, passenger railroads should refer to the ADAAG standards for design features not contained in Part 38, except where doing so is infeasible because of particular geometric constraints of the rail car design, rail car safety, or operational considerations unique to rail transportation. In situations involving concerns about infeasibility, the passenger railroad should provide its rationale for noncompliance with these standards to the FRA and/or FTA, as applicable.”

    The Rooms and Spaces Subcommittee of the United States Access Board published a report in Feb 2015 (https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/transportation/vehicles/rail-vehicles-access-advisory-committee/rooms-spaces-subcommittee-report?highlight=WyJyYWlsIiwicmFpbHMiLCJyYWlsaW5ncyIsInJhaWxpbmciLCJjYXJzIiwiY2FyIiwiY2FyJ3MiLCJjb21wYXJ0bWVudHMiLCJjb21wYXJ0bWVudCIsInJhaWwgY2FycyIsInJhaWwgY2FycyBjb21wYXJ0bWVudHMiLCJjYXJzIGNvbXBhcnRtZW50cyJd). They give specifications for rest rooms, sleeping compartments, etc. in new cars.

    So, Amtrak is obliged to use the standard ADA accessibility guidelines, including wheelchair accessibility, when designing or retrofitting cars, except where the form factor of a rail car prohibits it. They’re not obliged to do anything to older cars unless they’re remanufacturing them. This may not seem sufficient (and I don’t think it does), but it’s the guidance that given. And having looked at some of the 2015 report guidelines, no, the Amtrak accessible roomette likely wouldn’t qualify if it were being designed now. I wonder when they will build new sleeper cars.

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