DOJ to Amtrak: Your Train Stations Violate ADA

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has notified Amtrak that the transportation service’s rail stations are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In a June 9 letter to Amtrak CEO Joseph H. Boardman, Rebecca B. Bond, Chief, Disability Rights, Civil Rights division of the DOJ, shared the department’s ADA-related findings with Amtrak.

“The ADA and its regulations impose a broad non-discrimination mandate that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by a public entity,” Bond said in the letter. “Amtrak is a public entity subject to the ADA and its regulations.”

Bond singled out the lack of accessibility at Amtrak’s rail stations.

“The ADA required Amtrak to make all existing intercity rail station facilities, for which Amtrak is responsible, readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs, by July 26, 2010,” she said. “Station facilities include the station structure, the platform, and any parking facility. To date, Amtrak has failed to comply with this statutory mandate and is in violation of the ADA.”

In addition, Bond called out Amtrak for inappropriately categorizing rail stations in order to avoid having to make them accessible.

“[Amtrak] has also violated the ADA by incorrectly classifying stations as ‘flag stop’ stations and thereby avoiding responsibility to make those station facilities accessible,” Bond said in the letter.

The letter gave Amtrak 14 days to contact the DOJ to work on a resolution.

“In the event we determine that we cannot resolve this matter to correct the deficiencies identified in this letter, the Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit pursuant to the ADA,” Bond said. She added that the DOJ “remains committed to resolving this matter by working cooperatively with Amtrak” to achieve ADA compliance and to compensate “persons harmed” by the violations to date.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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