Amtrak Can Charge Extra For Groups Of Wheelchair Users, Judge
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 22, 2005
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA--Disability rights activists in Pennsylvania were considering this week whether to appeal a federal judge's decision in which he ruled that Amtrak could charge the group of wheelchair users extra to ride together in the same train car.
The members of Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania sued after Amtrak had told them they would charge $200 more than the usual ticket price to cover the cost of removing seats on their Philadelphia-to-Washington trips.
The advocates claimed that the extra charge amounted to disability discrimination in violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
Stephen Gold, an attorney representing the advocacy group, told the Associated Press: "If you and your family and friends and sisters and brothers and cousins, more than 20, wanted to travel to Washington, you would get a discount as a group."
U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said that Amtrak met federal law because it must have one space to park a wheelchair and one space to store an unoccupied chair per passenger coach. Bartle said the rail service could charge extra for anything beyond that.
Disabled in Action's executive director, Nancy Salandra, said that most of those who use wheelchairs and travel to the nation's capital are on fixed incomes of about $600 a month, and that the $200 on top of the $90 round-trip ticket price would be far too much for them to handle.