Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Amtrak said it has suspended a policy that recently drew substantial criticism for the rail carrier after it charged two disabled riders $25,000 for a trip in Illinois.
The riders were told by Amtrak last week they would have to pay the hefty bill to travel from Chicago to Bloomington -- under a policy that requires the carrier charge $25,000 each time it has to reconfigure a train car -- as it did to accommodate the wheelchair-bound persons. Amtrak reconfigured the car because there were already multiple wheelchair riders ticketed for the trip.
The 120-mile trip typically costs riders $16.
Wednesday, Amtrak said it lifted the policy, which was inappropriately applied in the two riders' case.
"We apologize for that mistake," Amtrak said in a statement. "We are glad that it has all worked out and we were able to accommodate our customers' trip.
"We will do better next time. We are America's Railroad and we want to provide more trips, not fewer."
Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari made similar remarks Wednesday after activists protested outside an Illinois station -- including Adam Ballard, a transportation policy analyst for a disability advocacy group and one of the two presented with the $25,000 bill.
Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a U.S. Army veteran and double amputee, called the policy "outrageous." The ranking Democrat on the Senate commerce subcommittee on transportation also said she would request a meeting with Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson.
Amtrak said earlier this week it would waive the $25,000 fee and find room for the riders to travel on the train.