Amtrak Unveils New Technologies for Accessible Travel
As the nation recognizes the 25th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this July, we’ve unveiled a new platform at the Ann Arbor, Michigan station.
As part of our commitment to the ADA community, Amtrak has been proud to partner with Michigan DOT, the Federal Railroad Administration, the City of Ann Arbor, the Lieutenant Governor of Michigan Brian Calley, and RLE International to unveil state-of-the-art technologies created specifically for passengers with disabilities.
A first of its kind, this platform is designed to bridge the gap between the platform and train, making travel at the station more safe and convenient. Using heated cement, lightweight bridge plates, and ergonomic design, installation and activation is easy for employees to operate, and safe for passengers to use.
RLE International developed this technology in partnership with Amtrak using a team of skilled engineers passionate about making a difference in the lives of passengers with disabilities. Robert Kokx, President of RLE International, even used his mother’s wheelchair to attempt to understand first-hand what it’s like to be a passenger with disabilities:
“I put myself in the seat of a passenger with a disability as a way for me and our team to start to solve the problem from the customer’s perspective, not just as engineers. It turns out that most of us knew someone close to us that had a disability, and quickly the project took on a personal meaning for each of us to be a part of a solution that could greatly impact the lives of so many people.”
Keeping things local, RLE International sourced all of their vendors from Ann Arbor businesses, ensuring that the local economy is supported by innovation in Michigan’s own back yard.
Gary Talbot, Amtrak’s ADA Program Director, oversees the Amtrak Accessible Boarding Technologies Program and the Amtrak ADA Stations Program to identify ways in which Amtrak’s equipment, infrastructure and stations can meet or exceed ADA requirements. Working with nonprofit organizations and ADA experts, he seeks to build a coalition of stakeholders committed to making a difference in the travel experience for our customers. “Our goal is to ensure that stations for which Amtrak has ADA responsibility are accessible to all passengers,” Talbot says.
With input from station owners and stakeholders from the disability community, and state and federal officials, Amtrak has taken many significant steps to improve the travel experience for passengers with disabilities – from trip planning, to purchasing tickets, to station access, to on-board services.
At Amtrak, passenger safety and comfort are our top priorities. Although we have made progress in better serving our customers with disabilities, there are always ways to improve. We know that an accessible passenger rail system benefits all travelers.