Ian RuderAfter 20 minutes of frantically pressing buttons and shouting my answers into my phone, I’m beginning to think Amtrak is holding out on me. All I want is to sign up for the special $25,000 wheelchair ticket I’ve been reading so much about, and Julie, Amtrak’s automated agent, isn’t being helpful.

We had no problem finding the train and time I wanted, but when it comes to choosing what type of ticket I want she refuses to offer me the $25K wheelchair special. I figured Amtrak might not want to publicize something this pricey and elite, but this is getting ridiculous.

I’ve tried asking about custom fares. I’ve requested more information on how they calculate fares. I’ve asked for fare details. I honestly feel like I could prob¬ably write the Amtrak fare guide after listening to Julie repeatedly explain the unwavering minutiae of their policy.

My immediate frustration is tempered by my growing respect for Adam Ballard. Ballard is the Chicago policy analyst/ railroad sleuth who discovered Amtrak’s secret fare when he tried to book a January trip from Chicago to Bloomington, Illinois. Instead of the r