Rarely has a train gone into reverse as abruptly as the Napa Valley Wine Train. After initially defending its decision to kick a mostly black women's book club off the train mid-journey for being too noisy, the company has issued a statement saying it was "100% wrong in its handling of the issue." Napa Valley Wine Train's CEO says he has offered the club 50 free passes and will give employees extra cultural sensitivity training, the AP reports. He admits it was "insensitive" to march the 11 women, the oldest of whom is 83, through several cars of the train before they got off at a station, where they were met by police. He also apologized for an "inaccurate" Facebook post that accused the women of abusing train staff, reports the Oakland Tribune.
Free passes or not, the leader of Sistahs on the Reading Edge club says she can't see the group joining another tour through California's wine country. "You can apologize, but you can't take away the experience we had," author Lisa Renee Johnson tells the Tribune. "We were still marched down the aisle of the train car to waiting police officers. I'm still traumatized by the whole experience." She believes racism was behind the ejection, and Slate reports that at least one other group had a similar experience: Nursing student Norma Ruiz says her all-Latino group was moved and told to quieten down or be kicked off the train during an April trip, even though she had seen all-white groups making just as much noise on a previous trip. (Read more California stories.)