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Amtrak’s Dangerous Forced Arbitration

In 2019, Amtrak slipped an anti-consumer policy into the paperwork that comes along with its tickets. This policy strips passengers of their right to settle a dispute before a judge and jury, whether the dispute stems from a simple customer complaint or a mass casualty crash.

More than 4,700 Public Citizen members have joined more than 30 groups in calling on Amtrak and Congress to remove forced arbitration from their ticketing.

Forced arbitration requires all Amtrak disputes to be resolved in a secretive, privatized system. The safety implications of such secrecy are enormous. Amtrak’s move is even worse because it is government-controlled and government-subsidized, receiving almost $2 billion a year in taxpayer money.

Using forced arbitration to bar customers from public courtrooms lets Amtrak avoid public accountability if it has been placing passengers in unsafe conditions or engaging in sweeping discrimination.

Given its unique relationship with the federal government, and the fact that it receives billions in taxpayer dollars, Amtrak should be leading the way when it comes to customer-friendly policies.

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