Dear Editor,

My family and I are planning to travel from Virginia to Sanibel Island off of the Gulf Coast of Florida over the summer to celebrate my recent college graduation.

I have Muscular Distrophy and use a motorized wheelchair, therefore travel by airplane is somewhat of a nuisance. We considered driving, but thought of possibly taking the Amtrak “auto train.” According to the Amtrak WebSite all trains are accessible and allow disabled passengers to remain in wheelchairs for the trip. I wonder if you have ever traveled on Amtrak and if so, how is the accessibility on the trains? Is the “auto train” accessible?

Thank you for any help you can offer, Jeff McAllister

Congratulations on your graduation!

Actually, we do have some experience with Amtrak’s auto train. A couple of the train’s cars do offer wheelchair access which allows reasonsable movement through the car and secure lock downs for your chair.

One thing you must realize is that this is a long, overnight trip. Many wheelchair users have issues with sitting time restrictions. While there are some wheelchair accessible cabins, as opposed to the main “seats only” section, the cabins are pretty small and the fold down beds are quite narrow and not ideal for transferring into. This does not mean that it can’t be done, just that it’s not easy.

If your sole purpose in choosing the train over air travel is to make the trip easier, you may find you’ve traded one set of difficulties for another. Still, the auto train is an interesting experience and if you want to give it a shot, you may end up loving it.