Amtrak said it will drop its $25,000 price tag for a wheelchair-accessible train ticket from Chicago to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, following widespread criticism. NPR reports that two wheelchair users who are part of a group from Access Living, a disability service and advocacy organization, requested tickets through Amtrak to attend a statewide conference. Amtrak responded, saying to add space for the two additional wheelchair users, it would need to take a train car out of service in order to unbolt extra seats. According to an Amtrak group sales agent on Dec. 30, that would cost $25,000. NPR reports that two senior Amtrak officials called a lawyer at Access Living to say that Amtrak could find extra space on the train, and in fact, all five wheelchair users in their group could ride for the regular price of the ticket, which is $16.
Bridget Hayman, an Access Living spokeswoman, told NPR that the group appreciates that the riders will all be able to take the train on Wednesday at no additional cost. However, she said the group is working toward a long-term solution, so Amtrak will no longer charge five figures in the future. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), the ranking member on the Senate subcommittee on transportation and safety, called the high bill “outrageous” and requested for Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson meet with her to “discuss eliminating Amtrak's nationwide policy of refusing to absorb any costs associated with reconfiguring a railcar to accommodate a group of wheelchair users.”