I do not enjoy train travel and my most recent experience didn’t help matters, which is probably a dead giveaway given the title of this post.
I travel to NYC once a year. People think because I’m so close I do it all the time. 1) It’s not that close and 2) the logistics involved are beyond ridiculous.
I know a lot of wheelchair users who prefer to travel by train, but I’m not one of them.
A few years ago, it was announced that all railcars would soon be fully accessible, meaning no need for bridge plates and worrying about finding a car with a wheelchair space.
Years later not all railcars in use are accessible, and even the accessible cars require the need for bridge plates, which means you need a conductor to get the bridge plate for you.
And therein lies the problem.
I knew I would probably need the bridge plate once getting to my arrival station so I parked myself next to it and informed the conductor. Once the train stopped at my arrival station (also the last stop of the night) I let everyone else disembark ahead of me and waited for the conductor, especially after I saw the size of the gap between the train and the platform I knew I shouldn’t even try to hop over it.
I’m waiting a long time so I see if the bridge plate was left unlocked. It’s happened before, but not this time.
My mother decided to stand in the doorway to prevent it from closing and hopefully flag down a conductor who might be passing by, no luck.
The starts closing and unlike elevator doors they don’t stop when met with resistance.
My mother is standing on the platform and I’m still on the train with no way to open the door.
I don’t see anyone who is still on the train or a phone number, instead I just see an emergency intercom.
My mother is trying to find someone without wondering too far from the train.
I press the button on the intercom & start screaming for help. It’s late, pitch dark, and I have no idea if or when they’ll turn the lights off on the train.
I press the button again & scream.
At this point I’m panicked and just want the door to open.
I try the intercom again.
Finally, a conductor walks through the car, doing the final walkthrough, my screams weren’t heard.
He tells me that he told the other conductor, the one my mother saw walk off the train but she couldn’t get his attention, that I would need assistance. He asks if I still need the bridge plate.
(I want to scream again, but this time for an additional reason)
He opens the door, puts the bridge plate over the gap, and wishes me a good night.
My panic has been replaced by fury but because it’s so late at night all offices are closed and I’m forced to just go home.
I go over the whole thing in my head and then again, on the ride home.
There was nothing I could’ve done differently, and that’s what I still find to be the most frustrating.
The world isn’t always a friendly place for people like me.
That’s just not acceptable.
Not to mention worse than being forgotten on a plane.