Accessibility Problems Dog Amtrak

By Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, September 09, 2014

An Amtrak train sitting at a station loding platform is shown.

An inspector general’s report finds that Amtrak has made
few strides in recent years toward improving ADA
compliance. (Photo by Michael Hibblen/Miami Herald/MCT)

The nation’s passenger rail system remains plagued by accessibility problems with poor planning hampering efforts to improve accommodations for people with disabilities, an audit finds.

In the last two years, Amtrak has made “limited progress” in improving compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to an internal inspector general’s report.

The failure to make substantial improvements stems largely from ineffective management and the lack of a written strategic plan, the report indicates.

As of 2011, only 48 of the 482 stations Amtrak serves were ADA compliant. Accordingly, Amtrak committed roughly $100 million to address the problems during 2012 and 2013.

In that time, several property surveys and facility assessments were completed and three stations were made more accessible. However, the inspector general found that nearly half of the funds allocated went toward management activities.

What’s more, $6.5 million was spent on designs for projects with no construction plans in place and an unknown amount went toward repairs considered “good” that that did not meet ADA standards.

In response to the report, Joseph Boardman, president and CEO of Amtrak, committed to management changes for the ADA program and said a strategic plan will be established. Boardman also said that Amtrak representatives will meet quarterly with national disability groups to address accessibility issues.

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