Autism, Amtrak and Chicago

amtrak wolverine buisness classYesterday I took my first Amtrak Journey in many years to Chicago’s Union Station for the day and then returned later that evening to my hometown via Amtrak as well.  As an Autistic adult I thought I would share my experience on Amtrak.  After the recomendations of many friends I chose to pay the extra few bucks for buisness class seats.  The stories of people yelling on the phone, screaming children and just poorly behaved riders made me do the push for buisness class.

Buisness class on the Wolverine Line shares a car with the Cafe Car but our half is cut off from the cafe car half.  The seats are large lether seats in rows of three and made for a very quiet and peaceful journey.  The free mountain dew helped keep me awake as we were delayed an hour out of Chicago due to locomotive issues making my arrival back home just after 10pm.  Overall I loved the train travel.

Autism and Chicago’s Union Station

Chicago’s Union Station however was a different matter when it comes to autism and train travel.  The lighting in the pre boarding area where we had to wait nearly a half hour before boarding was constantly flickering.  In the Amtrak Lounge there were no seats to sit in as one waited for pre boarding and every person who worked there had a handheld radio that was turned up to an obsense level.  It was sensory hell and there was no quiet place to hide.  I started to have major sensory issues waiting to board the train, but once I did things were very peaceful.

Amtrak and Disability Rate

Amtrak provides a special rate to those with disabilities, generally 15% off the regular fare.  To get the discount you must order over the phone, or at an Amtrak ticket counter.  Be prepared to show proof of disability when traveling, a public transit disabled pass worked for me.

Its also best to book your Amtrak travel well in advance as the seat prices do go up as the train starts to sell out.