Amtrak Officials Tour Empire Builder Stations to Review ADA Enhancements
In early November 2015, Amtrak officials toured nearly a dozen stations along the Empire Builder route in Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota to inspect approximately $14.6 million in improvements to make the facilities accessible and more convenient for all passengers. They were joined by a representative from a Washington, D.C.-based disability organization and met with local municipal leaders and disability community representatives from the upper Midwest.
Amtrak representatives including Empire Builder Route Director Jim Brzezinski, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs and Corporate Communications, Joe McHugh, Senior Community Outreach Specialist David Nelson and regional government affairs managers met with local leaders, disability community representatives and members of the media to share information about the railroad’s ongoing project to bring facilities into compliance with the ADA.
“Amtrak serves as an important mode of travel for people with disabilities and recognizes that accessibility improvements benefit all passengers by eliminating barriers to travel,” said McHugh. “We will continue to build on the progress made to date and advance a robust program of station accessibility improvements in the years to come.”
While work remains, Amtrak is striving to reduce barriers on all routes including the daily Empire Builder, which provides a vital transportation link for many small communities located far from major interstates, not served by intercity buses and with only a few airports providing scheduled service. More than 438,000 passengers rode the Empire Builder in Fiscal Year 2015.
Areas subject to ADA improvements include station entrances and entry doors, restrooms, waiting rooms, ticket windows, passenger information display systems (PIDS) and signage. Work also extends to accessible pathways between the parking lot, depot and platform.
In Fargo, N.D., where $1.3 million1 has been spent to improve the travel experience, accessibility work included the installation of PIDS, a system that simultaneously communicates real-time train status and general boarding announcements in audible and visual formats.
Passengers in St. Cloud, Minn., can see a $1.3 million1 project under way to install accessible parking and walkways. Additional accessible enhancements include the platform and a lift, and work should be finished in winter 2016. The travel experience in Glasgow, Mont., has improved with the completion of $1.3 million1 in work to make parking and signage accessible. Amtrak passengers will also find an accessible platform and waiting room.
Amtrak plans to schedule additional opportunities in 2016 to inspect ADA station improvements and meet with local disability community representatives and municipal officials.
1 Encompasses all previous costs including improvements funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, design costs and any additional projected costs.
Amtrak Highlights Accessibility of Auto Train Stations
Amtrak representatives and invited guests gathered at the Auto Train station in Lorton, Va., in October 2015 to highlight a variety of ADA enhancements completed at the busy facility. A new level-boarding platform was installed this year at the Lorton station. Having the platform and rail car floor at the same level makes it easier and faster for passengers to get on and off the train. Work on the level-boarding platform at the Sanford, Fla., Auto Train station is under way and is expected to be finished in February 2016.
Amtrak has enhanced mobility at both facilities by installing or rebuilding ADA compliant entrances, restrooms and ticket counters, as well as ensuring accessible pathways between the parking lot, station building and platform.
Nearly 272,000 passengers chose the Auto Train in Fiscal Year 2015. The popular service transports passengers and their motor vehicles, including cars, SUVs, trucks, motorcycles, small boats and water-skis, between the national capital area and central Florida.
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