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.
“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.
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?