Share information and ask questions about accessible travel in the US.
US TrainsPosted by maria on April 19, 2022 at 4:20 am
I would like also to ask if anyone knows how are the trains in the US, when it comes to passengers with electric wheelchairs.
I think that Amtrak is the main company operating, right? However, when I use its website to find a connection, and mention that I use a wheelchair, I am only given one option (if any). Is there for example, other operator? Or is it a wise choice to travel between different States by train?maria replied 1 year, 1 month ago 4 Members · 10 Replies
- 10 Replies
schroth-senseiMemberApril 19, 2022 at 6:13 am
Hello again Maria,
I haven’t personally used the trains in the US, though not for lack of willingness. Amtrak is probably the biggest train company in the US, so as you’ve seen choices here are limited (I did find this accessibility info on the Amtrak Vacations page if you or anyone else wanted more info: https://www.amtrakvacations.com/trip-planning/accessibility). I don’t mean this to sound like a downer, but usually the trains don’t have a nearby station or just don’t go to all the places you may want to visit, and if they get close you usually still need a car/van to get around (I’m always saying we need more trains here). This means renting a car/van is usually the best way to get around, but extensive trips can take a lot of time up just driving (e.g. when I was a kid, my parents drove us from Idaho to Florida to visit family, just the time traveling took us 4-days 1-way). If you mix in domestic flights you can get across the states quicker, but between being at the airport extra early, ensuring you have accessible transportation and hotels on each end, it can a pain to plan everything and get very tiresome.
For anyone who wants to do some extensive traveling in many parts of the US, I have to recommend renting a car/van (and bringing a driver if you don’t drive). Typically it should be cheaper then using a taxi/uber to go everywhere. Using an accessible van with a low undercarriage (which is what we use), you will have to avoid/detour around some roads (i.e. in mountainous areas), but this is an uncommon occurrence that typically doesn’t hinder us from getting to most locations. It can be an issue getting an accessible rental van, but not impossible. Big car rental companies usually have a few (call well in advance though), but there are other specialty companies too. Enterprise actually recommends going to Wheelchair Getaways (https://www.accessiblevans.com/) to find one, which is a pretty good resource for many states. I believe you were looking in Raleigh, NC area, I found a company called Van Products Mobility (https://www.vanproducts.com/wheelchair-van-rentals) that can do long term rentals that may work for you, if you decide to take the rental route. Just keep in mind to read the fine print, mileage can add up quick, and in-turn, mileage fee’s if you go well over any limit they may have. Also, if you have the choice, get a side-entry accessible van, otherwise due to parking spots a rear entry van may require you to load in/out onto the roadway which isn’t recommended for safety.
I wish I had better news about US trains for you, personally I fell in love with how convenient the trains in Japan are for me and my wheelchair and would love to see that here. But alas, Americans do love there cars and the open roads.
I hope that has helped some,
Note: I haven’t personally used, nor am I affiliated with any of the above mentioned companies and/or websites. Please use your own judgment when purchasing any goods/services with any company, it is highly recommended to check reliability/honesty of such companies via the Better Business Bureau and other reviewing establishments prior to conducting and business.
Josh GrisdaleMemberApril 19, 2022 at 9:34 am
Thanks again @schroth-sensei!
@maria can you tell us where you were planning on taking the train to? Knowing the destination could help find the best/cheapest options.
CarlosMemberApril 19, 2022 at 10:27 am
Amtrak is the only national train service here in the States. There are other train services, but they’re either for commuting between major cities (like between Miami and West Palm Beach, FL) in a state, service within a metropolitan area (like in Seattle, LA, and NYC), or for local attractions. We’re not a ‘train country’ like in Europe or Asia. Pretty much, if there’s no Amtrak service in your destination, like Las Vegas, your only options are plane or bus.
mariaMemberApril 19, 2022 at 6:10 pm
Thank you for the replies!
I am going to Durham (North Carolina), but as my plane connection is not very convenient, I was thinking of traveling by plane to New York, Boston, Atlanta or Philadelphia and then taking a train. I guess this is not an option then.
Are buses that travel between States wheelchair accessible?!
schroth-senseiMemberApril 20, 2022 at 2:52 am
Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all public transport should be wheelchair accessible, and in my own experience I’ve seen all modern public local and long-distance buses equipped with lifts (if you count my experiences in school, then I’d have to say I have significant experience as a bus rider who uses an motorized wheelchair as well).
The majority of cities have their own mass-transit bus systems and most should be accessible, cost is usually relatively cheap as it is intended to serve those who cannot afford a car as well as the general public. Just know before/after-work rush-hour can be packed, so it may be best not to ride during these times if avoidable. Don’t be late showing up to a bus stop, it is probably best to be as visible as possible to the driver and get their attention immediately that you want to ride (confirm it’s your bus, then they’ll probably load you first), that being said expect the bus to be late (it may be a few minutes, it may be much longer). If you’re a night owl, find out the bus schedule in advance so you don’t miss the last bus, while I generally don’t recommend being out when it’s dark for safety reasons, you still don’t want to miss the last bus and have to find other ways back to your hotel at night.
Probably the most extensive long-distance bus company, Greyhound (link to their customers with disabilities page here: https://www.greyhound.com/en/help-and-info/travel-info/customers-with-disabilities), does fall under ADA laws, and so they are accessible. I haven’t been on a Greyhound in ages, nor for a long trip, from my experience they were about average for a bus ride (not the smoothest ride, but it had working air conditioning). I can’t give a personal account of long-trips, from what I’ve heard they can be from uneventful to uncomfortable (luckily you shouldn’t need to get out of your wheelchair, but it still could be bumpy). Probably best to keep expectations low in my opinion. I don’t know if these buses have accessible toilets either, so I wouldn’t count on that.
Lastly, if you do use the buses, be safe and don’t leave bags, backpacks, tickets, etc. unattended on the bus as it usually isn’t the bus drivers/companies responsibility if it is missing or stolen.
I hope that helps,
Note: I am not affiliated with any of the
above mentioned companies and/or websites. Please use your own judgment
when purchasing any goods/services with any company, it is highly
recommended to check reliability/honesty of such companies via the
Better Business Bureau and other reviewing establishments prior to
conducting any business.
mariaMemberApril 20, 2022 at 5:19 pm
Thank you for the information!
I check than that option as well. 🙂
CarlosMemberApril 29, 2022 at 1:43 pm
For short distances, they’re okay. But, definitely not for long distances. You may not have enough time to use the restroom during restroom stops. Plus, the clientele on GREYHOUND isn’t always the best.
Unless you have absolutely no other choice, avoid taking the bus. Spend the extra money and fly. Take it from someone who has ridden GREYHOUND only once and will never again.
mariaMemberApril 29, 2022 at 3:06 pm
Thank you for your comment on that.
After looking for some days now, it seems that flight is indeed the best option.
Josh GrisdaleMemberApril 20, 2022 at 5:10 pm
Here is a video about riding the Greyhound bus in a wheelchair:
It is from @theheartoftexas who are on TabiFolk!
mariaMemberApril 20, 2022 at 5:21 pm
Thank you for the video! 🙂