Renovations underway at the tiny Amtrak station in Amsterdam are expected to make traveling easier for people with mobility issues.
The work is a small piece of Amtrak’s nationwide American Stations Development Program aimed at getting all Amtrak stations upgraded to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole.
The station, situated between state Route 5 and the Mohawk River at the western edge of the city, serves people using Amtrak’s Empire and Maple Leaf services with stops including New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Toronto.
In 2012, the Amsterdam station saw 9,197 riders — up from 8,682 in 2011. It drew $445,330 in revenue, up from $414,208 in ticket sales the year before, according to the Amtrak website.
It’s not much to look at and lacks sidewalks that might encourage travelers to stop and take a look at the city, but the station is considered a major benefit with respect to dreams of a replacement station that feature heavily in Mayor Ann Thane’s goals to establish a transportation hub closer to the city’s Downtown.
Talk with federal officials has been underway for years with the goal of developing a new station near the northern end of the city’s new Pedestrian Bridge for which construction is expected to begin this year.
Such a project would require the help of both federal funding and a private enterprise interested in taking part of the development, Thane said.
“There’s tremendous opportunity to put a multi-modal facility on the northern terminus of the bridge so that people could work outside of the area and come home at night and live and play in the city of Amsterdam,” Thane said.
Another improvement sought is the scheduling–trains are available to bring people back and forth from Amsterdam, Schenectady and Albany–but departure times at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. aren’t greatly useful for those heading to work.
Looking out strategically 50 years or more, Thane said a station downtown with schedules that also cater to commuters is a sensible goal with hopes of minimizing the need for everybody to drive to work in a car, Thane said.
The Amsterdam station at 466 W. Main St. has rest rooms but lacks features like Wi-Fi, a pay phone, an ATM, a ticket office, baggage assistance or lockers.
The platform is one piece of the current upgrade project–Amtrak is increasing the height of these platforms to make it easier for people to board trains.
The station’s bathroom and waiting room areas are being upgraded with handicapped-accessible features as well, Cole said in an e-mail.
The Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990.
It was unclear immediately how much the upgrades in Amsterdam will cost.
Under its American Stations Development Program, Amtrak has spent approximately $150 million at more than 200 stations between 2009 and 2011 to bring stations into ADA compliance.