WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress recently celebrated the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including employment, public accommodations and transportation. To highlight the anniversary, Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) is urging transit stations to take advantage of new funding to help people with disabilities.
Throughout the years, the historic Union Station in Erie, Pennsylvania has served as a place for people to travel through on trains. It’s also a growing hub for local businesses. According to Sen. Casey, transit sites like this one, could be eligible for some upgrades.
“We have about 1.7 a little more than 1.7 billion available for the country to make transit stations more accessible,” said Casey.
The money stems from the massive infrastructure bill Biden signed into law. One part of that bill earmarks money for transit stations to improve accessibility for all riders. According an Amtrak station assessment, they found various ADA issues at stations across the country including problems with ticket counters, loading passengers, even restrooms.
“When you have a transit site that might have an accessibility problem, by the way most do, the overwhelming majority 80 or 90 percent of the stations in the country have these problems,” said Casey.
We reached out to Jim Berlin on this. His company, Logistics Plus, took ownership of Union Station years ago. He sent this statement:
“This is great to hear. Historic Union Station in Erie, Pa will be 100 years old in a couple of years. Logistics Plus is proud to have taken ownership and bought this landmark back into full usage after 30 years of disrepair. The building is thriving with LP’s Global HQ and IT center, with The Brewerie and several other tenants, as well as Amtrak. It is almost to full capacity. Making public transportation more easily accessible to Americans from all walks of life will only help increase Amtrak’s ridership and will further increase the usage of this beautiful building.”
Casey hopes transit stations apply for the available funding.
“If someone with a disability can’t access transportation, we’re not fulfilling the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Casey.
In that assessment from Amtrak, it didn’t list specific changes Union Station can make to be more ADA accessible. On Amtrak’s website, union station does provide for things like accessible platforms, waiting areas, wheelchair lifts and more.