Amtrak is paying out $2.25 million to more than 1,500 passengers with disabilities over inadequate access to 78 train stations, Axios is reporting.
The money was part of a settlement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Amtrak over Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) violations. People with disabilities encountered "significant accessibility issues" at the 78 stations, according to the settlement.
The settlement, which was reached on Dec. 2, 2020, says "Amtrak commits to make its intercity rail stations accessible, prioritizing stations with the most significant barriers to access. Over 10 years, Amtrak will design at least 135 stations to be accessible, complete construction at 90 of those stations, and have at least 45 more under construction.
"Amtrak will also train staff on ADA requirements and implement an agreed-upon process for accepting and handling ADA complaints. As part of this commitment, Amtrak recently established an Office of the Vice President of Stations, Properties & Accessibility to coordinate its compliance with the ADA.
"To compensate those harmed by inaccessible stations while trying to travel by train, Amtrak will establish a $2.25 million settlement fund. Individuals with mobility impairments who traveled or desired to travel at 78 specified stations with significant accessibility issues may be compensated from the settlement fund."
The New York Times reported that the DOJ lawsuit against Amtrak noted that those with disabilities faced the barriers across the rail system, including narrow waiting areas, steep inclines for passenger platforms, and toilets that were not adjustable for those in wheelchairs.
Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman, said the railroad had "made significant progress in bringing numerous facilities into higher levels of accessibility."
He noted that it had budgeted more than $143 million for accessibility improvements at stations for 2022.
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