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Amtrak Pays $2 Million to Passengers With Disabilities Who Faced Obstacles at Stations

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Amtrak has paid greater than $2 million to over 1,500 individuals with disabilities whom it discriminated in opposition to at practically 80 practice stations throughout the nation, from Tuscaloosa to Topeka, the Justice Department introduced on Wednesday.

The funds are the primary of a number of actions mandated by a settlement reached final yr between the railroad and the Justice Department that requires Amtrak to rectify persistent limitations throughout its rail system to these with disabilities.

Obstacles included slim ready areas, parking areas with out indicators marking them as accessible, steep inclines for passenger platforms and observe crossings, and bogs that didn’t accommodate wheelchairs, in accordance to a lawsuit that the Justice Department introduced in opposition to Amtrak alleging that these “failures” brought about continued hurt and violated federal civil rights legislation.

Under the phrases of the settlement, Amtrak should, over the subsequent 9 years, redesign 90 stations throughout the nation to make them accessible to all passengers and begin development at 45 different stations. It should additionally practice its employees to adjust to the necessities of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a landmark civil rights legislation handed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination in opposition to individuals with disabilities.

Those efforts will “bring both Amtrak and our nation one step closer to realizing the A.D.A.’s promise of equal opportunity for people with disabilities,” Kristen Clarke, an assistant lawyer with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, stated in a press release.

In a press release on Wednesday, Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman, stated the railroad had “made significant progress in bringing numerous facilities into higher levels of accessibility.” He added that it had budgeted greater than $143 million for accessibility enhancements at 43 stations this yr.

The firm operates about 500 stations in 46 states and the District of Columbia, in accordance to court docket paperwork.

The Justice Department opened its investigation into Amtrak after it had acquired complaints about inaccessible practice stations and a important report in 2013 by the National Disability Rights Network, an advocacy group that investigated the railroad in relation to civil rights legislation and located that the railroad had “lagged far behind” different transportation suppliers in offering accessible companies to clients with disabilities. Passengers, the report concluded, had been pressured to “suffer embarrassment, discomfort, and other indignities” all through the method of practice journey, from buying a ticket to disembarking.

“Inaccessible train stations are more than just an inconvenience,” Curt Decker, the group’s government director, stated in a press release on Wednesday. “Transportation is the linchpin of community integration.”