June 7, 2007
Office of Technical and Informational Services
Architectural and Transportation Barriers
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111
Re: Comments on Access Board Docket 2007-1
Madam Chair and Members of the Board:
This letter provides the King County Department of Transportation, Metro Transit Division's (Metro Transit) comments on the draft revisions to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles issued by the Access Board on
April 11, 2007. The guidelines, which were adopted by the Board in 1991, were based on guidelines that were originally created in 1986.
The draft revisions issued by the Board cover only subparts A (General) and B (Buses, Vans and Systems) of 36 CFR Part 1192. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update the guidelines will be issued once public comments are considered. Once the final guidelines are issued, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will issue standards based on the guidelines. While our comments are directed primarily toward the draft revisions, some comments may also reflect our thoughts on the implementation of the final guidelines by USDOT.
By way of background to our comments, Metro Transit is responsible for operating public transportation (bus, complementary paratransit, vanpool and ridematching services) in King County, Washington. The County covers 2,134 square miles, ranging from dense urban core areas, including the City of Seattle, to suburban cities to rural farmland. King County is the 13th most populous county in the nation with over 1,800,000 residents.
As of December 31, 2006, Metro Transit operated an active bus fleet of nearly 1,300 vehicles that provided nearly 98,850,000 passenger trips. Our vanpool fleet of 1,018 vehicles provided 1,790,000 rides. Our complementary paratransit service – Access Transportation (Access) – provided 1,104,480 rides with a fleet of 289 vehicles.
In addition, several other transit agencies operate ‘designated public transportation service’ within King County or into King County from neighboring counties, including:
In addition, Sound Transit is building several major bus or multi-modal transit centers and park-and-rides in King County. Their Central Link light rail system is scheduled to begin operating in King County in summer 2009. The City of Seattle is building the South Lake Union Streetcar, which is slated to begin operation later this year within the downtown area. Generally, each agency is responsible for procuring vehicles that meet their needs (although it is not uncommon for one agency to buy buses from another agency’s procurement). The result is that there is a wide variety of bus manufacturers and models represented in the four transit agencies’ bus fleets. This is significant in that any changes to vehicle specifications that affect future transit facility design, or require retrofitting, can create operational issues (for example, if one agency chooses to meet revised vehicle guidelines by buying buses with mid-vehicle ramps).
Please note that our comments are restricted to ‘designated public transportation’ provided by public agencies.
Background to comments
Current Public Transit Industry Vehicle, Equipment and Infrastructure Trends:
There have been significant changes in the equipment used in the public transit industry since the original ADA vehicle guidelines were adopted by USDOT on September 9, 1991, as 49 CFR Part 38. The primary change that impacts these vehicle guidelines is the move from high-floor, lift-equipped transit buses to low-floor, ramp-equipped buses that kneel. With lifts, it is largely irrelevant how high the curb is; the only exception is if it is too high for the lift to deploy. Therefore, many transit agencies invested heavily in making bus stops and other facilities accessible for front-door lift use, with no concern for curb height.
On the other hand, facilitating successful boarding, particularly for manual wheelchair users and ambulatory persons with disabilities, requires a minimizing the ramp slope by installing a curb with a height of at least six inches. This is especially necessary in that most ramps do not have handrails. While a small portion of this trend includes actual Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems where the bus and facility may be designed to operate in concert using mid-door or multiple accessible entrances, it is a critical issue for the much larger number of low-floor buses with front-door ramps that are operated in non-BRT situations.
Low-floor buses have had some operational impacts as well. Even when the ramp is nearly level, most mobility aid users cannot board backwards, as they can with a lift. This means the mobility aid user must turn around within the bus to be secured forward-facing. This can be difficult to impossible if another mobility aid user is in the other securement area. Since there are no seats over the wheelhouse, the mobility aid user no longer has to contend with avoiding passengers’ feet. However, this means that the priority seats are now significantly further from the front door and that aisle-facing seats are not available if both securement areas are occupied by mobility aid users.
The second major change is widespread investment a variety of technologies, such as smart cards for fare payment, Global Positioning Systems that allow automated stops calling, Vehicle Area Networks that coordinate on-board computer systems and facilitate such innovations as wirelessly broadcasting specific vehicle information to an individual’s cell phone or similar device.
Changes in the Function, Design and Usage of Mobility Aids:
There has also been a major change in the design and function of powered mobility aids (i.e. three- and four-wheeled scooters, power base chairs and similar devices) in the past 15 years. In 1991, a wheelchair, whether manual or powered, was generally used as basic transportation for someone with a significant mobility disability who was unable to walk or extremely limited in their ability to stand or ambulate for any distance. Now, mobility aids can stand, elevate and tilt and can include communications devices, computers and music systems. All of this makes mobility aids bigger, wider and heavier and requires electronics, hydraulics and numerous moving parts that make it difficult to secure the mobility aid without damaging it. Some of these mobility aids cost $20 to $30,000, or more.
In addition, the market for mobility aids, particularly scooters, has expanded astronomically, often to people who would have never have considered using one a decade ago. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has reported that from 1995 to 2003, expenditures for power wheelchairs increased by an astonishing 2,705 percent, from $43 million to $1.2 billion in just over just 8 years . Television channels are flooded with ads for scooters for grandma and grandpa. Catalogs selling the latest high tech gear to aging baby boomers are featuring scooters that break down to be stowed in your car trunk . News media are even running stories about non-disabled folks renting scooters in Las Vegas and Disney World so they won’t be tired at the end of their busy day.
The result is that the demographics of who uses mobility aids have changed – there are many more people with a wide variety of needs and abilities using mobility aids. Some mobility aid users who have a high level of functional disability or who have hearing and vision limitations may have difficulty controlling their mobility aid in the transit environment. The turning radius on some mobility aids can be as big a problem as length and width for making turns into a bus.
Once the mobility aid user reaches the securement area and turns around into a forward-facing position, the challenges may not have ended. Mobility aid manufacturers often don’t include appropriate tie-down locations because they do not want to incur liability in the event of an accident. If tie-down locations are included, they are often for four-point, paratransit-style securements or for a proprietary securement system for a personal vehicle.
Comments on Draft Vehicle Guideline Revisions
Summary of comments:
To preface our comments, Metro Transit has been a leader in providing accessible public transportation for nearly 30 years. We were a pioneer in installing lifts on buses – in fact, the industry standard lift was designed by a retired Metro engineer. We worked closely with the local disability community to develop policies and procedures that resulted in a reliable service that was and is widely used by persons with mobility impairments who previously had no access to public transportation. We went on to work with other segments of the disability community to create programs such as Bus Identifier Kits, Special Assistance Cards and innovative driver training programs that made it easier for persons with sensory impairments to use Metro Transit for their transportation needs.
Frankly, our overall reaction to the draft revisions was one of great concern as several major changes were proposed without any analysis of the potential consequences. There appeared to be little research done to support the proposed changes and therefore little understanding of the potential impact should these changes be implemented (i.e. the change in maximum ramp slope, the enlarged mobility aid envelope or the requirement for automated provision of audible and visual stop information).
The proposed changes appear to be geared solely toward resolving issues brought forth by the disability community; and while these issues are certainly important, there was no corresponding acknowledgement of transit industry concerns (i.e. rear-facing ‘containment positions’ rather than securement devices in BRT vehicles). Also, other than the brief discussion of the interaction of BRT vehicles and facilities, there appeared to be no consideration of updating facility guidelines in response to the shift to low-floor buses. Lastly, there was no apparent effort to look forward to try to anticipate future issues for public transportation vehicles and facilities and persons with disabilities.
Metro Transit strongly suggests that the Board withdraw this proposal pending conducting sufficient research on these issues. At a minimum, the following steps should be undertaken as part of this research:
And lastly, but most importantly, continue the dialogue with transit agencies and equipment manufacturers that started with the industry roundtable on January 10, 2007 (it is of note that there are no minutes from this meeting on the Access Board web site). It is clear that the transit industry is dedicated to providing accessible transportation in a safe, reliable manner. While input from persons with disabilities is clearly important, the cooperative role of public transit providers is essential to the success of the transportation provisions of the ADA. The Access Committee of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is one of the best central locations to gather and disseminate information related to updating the vehicle guidelines.
As it is impossible to separate vehicle and facility design concerns from operational requirements that may be imposed later by USDOT, such as the effective date for vehicles to meet any changes, we further suggest that any proposed changes be coordinated with USDOT, including the Federal Transit Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute. It is also important to bring in agencies such as Easter Seals Project ACTION and other groups conducting research into mobility aids and transportation to ensure that all operational and safety issues are on the table and resolved before the guidelines are finalized. The collaborative process worked well to develop and finalize the original ADA regulations in 1990 and 1991; there is no reason to think it won’t work again.
Finally, Metro Transit would commend the Board on the design and layout of the recently revised ADA Accessibility Guidelines. Metro Transit staff have found this layout, with its frequent use of figures to illustrate complex technical requirements, to be a major improvement. The ‘advisories’ are very helpful in providing interpretive or supplemental information. Metro Transit recommends that the Board adopt this approach as it moves forward with changes to the vehicle guidelines.
Comments on Specific Proposals Contained in the Draft Changes
The definitions section is one where the issue of coordinating decisions by the Access Board and USDOT is required, as most of the definitions in 36 CFR Part 1192 are actually USDOT definitions contained in their regulations at 49 CFR Part 37.3. It would be helpful if the Board could identify those definitions under its control. Having said that, our comments below reflect both Access Board and USDOT definitions.
‘Accessible’ and ‘Used Vehicle’
When the guideline revisions are finalized, these terms will need to be clarified to reflect that some vehicles are accessible under the first set of guidelines, while others are accessible under the new guidelines, and that some used vehicles will be inaccessible, while others will fall into one of the ‘accessible’ categories.
King County Metro is concerned that the existing USDOT definition of ‘bus’ is no longer adequate in defining the accessibility requirements for the variety of vehicles that can be used to provide designated public transportation. Metro Transit believes it would be helpful to explore defining several categories of vehicles or subtypes within a given category. There are practical ways that these differences affect the vehicle guidelines. For example, purpose-built, heavy duty 40-foot is typically either 102- or 96-inches wide. A low-floor, 40-foot vehicle that is 102 inches wide may be able to provide 36 inches of clear space between wheelhouses, while a 96-inch wide bus may only be able to achieve a 32-inch wide clear aisle. There are a number of factors, including narrow streets, which may require an agency to buy 96-inch wide buses.
At a minimum, Metro Transit suggests the following new terms be defined: transit bus, over-the-road bus (which can be used by public transit agencies), BRT vehicle, cutaway (or ‘body on chassis’), van, and mini-van. Other terms can be identified through research into vehicle characteristics for different transit uses. One example of different characteristics between a heavy-duty transit bus and a cutaway, two vehicles that fit into the ‘bus’ definition, is the difference in the vehicle suspension’s ability to ‘absorb’ the 600 pounds (or 660 pounds) over the lifetime of the vehicle. Transit buses typically have a heavier suspension, including air bags that are not available on some smaller vehicles. The lifting capacity and operational safety of a lift integrated into a heavy duty frame, compared to a lift that bolts into a doorframe and vehicle floor of a cutaway should be considered when increasing the lift capacity.
Metro Transit also suggests that the current demarcation between vehicles over and under 22 feet in length be reconsidered. While we strongly support two securement positions on longer buses, this length distinction fails to consider how much of the vehicle interior is available for the passenger compartment. A review of a commonly purchased cutaway vehicle that is nominally 27-feet long, finds that only 16 feet of the vehicle’s length is available for passengers (four to five feet is taken up by the engine compartment, and another five feet by the driver’s compartment). With the wheelhouses, ramp stowage space and other seats, it is impossible to have two securement areas with independent ingress and egress. If the mobility aid user who got on first wants to get off first, it would be necessary to unsecure, deboard, reboard and re-secure the other mobility aid user.
We also suggest reviewing the Gross Vehicular Weight Rating (GVRW) that is used for securement system standards to determine if this delineation is appropriate.
‘Common wheelchairs and mobility aids’
While we have some concerns over removing this definition, the defined space and weight contained in 1192.21(c) appears to be adequate in addressing some of our concerns. We do believe, however, that any mobility devices required to be carried should be designed as a ‘mobility aid.’
‘Complementary Paratransit Service’ and ‘Vanpool’
These terms are is not currently defined, leaving open the question of which of these guidelines apply to ‘accessible’ vehicles used for complementary paratransit or other special needs transportation services and to public vanpool vehicles. This issue takes on more importance given the proposed additional space requirements, destination signage, automated stop announcements and other accessibility features.
Subpart B – Buses, Vans and Similar Vehicles
Although the term ‘… and Similar Vehicles’ replaces ‘… and Systems,’ Metro Transit is concerned that this term is undefined, as was the previous term.
(c) This section would replace the previous definition of a common wheelchair with a requirement for an ‘accessible’ vehicle to have an unobstructed volume on the lift or ramp and in the securement area(s) and along the connecting path, of at least 30 inches wide by 48 inches long by 40 inches high, plus additional space as may be required by sections 23(a)(2), 23(d)(2) and 25(c). The maximum occupied weight of an occupied mobility aid that fits into this shape is 660 pounds when occupied.
Metro Transit notes that this definition would no longer allow the current width of 28.5 inches from the lift or ramp platform to two inches above the platform. Any lifts or ramps that meet this exact measurement will need to be redesigned with concomitant retooling of manufacturing facilities. However, a width of 28.5 inches is allowed in Section 1192.23 Mobility Aid Accessibility, (b) Vehicle Lift (6) Platform Surface.
Metro Transit requests the Board to provide research on the rationale for increasing the height of this volume from 30 to 40 inches. Our current driver compartments angle outward towards the aisle from the floor to the ceiling, and may not meet this requirement. We have spent a great deal of effort over the years to design a driver’s compartment that is ergonomically correct and functional for a wide range of sizes of drivers.
(d) This section, which will be moved to ADAAG, deals with the interaction of BRT vehicles and facilities.
While BRT technology is clearly becoming more popular, the USDOT/FTA definition of BRT is quite flexible to accommodate a number of design considerations . Metro Transit suggests that the Board address the facilities design requirements to respond to the emergence of low-floor, ramp-equipped vehicles as the preferred vehicle type for public transportation, and address the limited BRT issues within that context. We would note that section 810, Transportation Facilities, of the revised ADAAG essentially defines only bus stops and rail stations when there are other common transit facilities, such as transit centers (on-street and off-street) and
park-and-ride lots that could benefit from inclusion in ADAAG.
The qualification regarding which entity is responsible for the design and construction of a transit facility, or the portion of a multi-use facility (i.e. transit facility and retail on lower floors with condominiums or hotel rooms on upper floors) that is dedicated to transit usage, is an important issue. However, the proposed language as drafted is inadequate to address the variety of public/private partnerships and funding arrangements that can apply.
1192.23 Mobility aid accessibility.
(1) A lift, bridgeplate or ramp must be provided at all doors for mobility aid users wherever the separation between vehicle floor and boarding and alighting area exceeds either two inches horizontally or 5/8 inch vertically.
(2) At least one route to each securement location shall have a clear width of at least 36 inches minimum from floor level to 40 inches, and a clear width of 30 inches above a height of 40 inches. Where a turn is required, sufficient maneuvering space shall be provided to allow a wheelchair or mobility aid having a width of 30 inches maximum and a length of 48 inches maximum to turn with a minimum of back-and-forth movement.
(3) At least two securement locations and devices, complying with paragraph (d) of this section on vehicles in excess of 22 feet in length and at least one securement location and device complying with paragraph (d) of this section on vehicles 22 feet in length or less.
Metro Transit believes that a two-inch horizontal gap may be too wide for many power mobility aid users to negotiate without the possibility of one or both front casters turning sideways and getting caught in the gap. Also, it is unclear if this measurement includes ‘bumpers’ or other gap fillers. However, it seems that this is only an issue where the vehicle does not have a lift, ramp or bridgeplate, such as a BRT vehicle and station.
While a 36-inch wide clear aisle space is possible on a low-floor 40-foot or 60-foot transit bus, we do not believe that this width can be achieved in the vestibule between the ramp or lift and the aisle between the wheelhouses. We also do not believe that this clear space can be achieved on any other vehicle, with the possible exception of a situation where the ramp or lift directly abuts the securement area(s).
The performance requirement in (2) is inappropriate for a number of reasons. Just because a mobility aid fits into a certain volume doesn’t mean it has been designed to make a sharp turn as is required on transit buses with front door access. This requirement also does not consider that a mobility aid turns differently when backing versus moving forward. Lastly, a specific mobility aid user may have difficulty controlling their mobility aid due to disability (e.g. unable to turn one’s head) or inexperience.
As noted earlier, the 22 foot demarcation in (3) may no longer be appropriate.
(b) Vehicle lift.
(6) Platform surface..…The platform shall have a minimum clear width of 28 1/2 inches at the platform, a minimum clear width of 30 inches measured from 2 inches above the platform surface to a height of 40 inches above the platform, and a minimum clear length of 48 inches measured from 2 inches above the surface of the platform to a height of 40 inches above the surface of the platform.
These dimensions appear to be in conflict with the volume specified in 1192.21(c).
(c) Vehicle ramps and bridgeplates.
(4) Barriers. Each side of ramps and bridgeplates shall have barriers at least two inches high along all portions of ramps and bridgeplates more than 3 inches above the boarding and alighting surface.
Metro Transit disagrees with not requiring side barrier between one and three inches above ground, as substantial injury can occur with that much of a drop, especially if the mobility aid tips over.
(5) Slope. The slope of all ramps and bridgeplates shall not exceed 1:8. Only one device shall be required to have a maximum slope of 1:8 when deployed to roadway…
While we support the Board’s efforts to make buses more accessible, the simple fact is that the slope of a bus ramp is dictated by the height of the bus above the roadway and the length of the space available to stow the ramp. Without additional research, it is unclear if there is a transit bus currently in production that can meet the proposed 1:8 standard. Assuming that the kneeled height of the bus is 12 inches from the roadway, the ramp would have to be eight feet long (with an additional four feet of space at the sidewalk end for the mobility aid user to deboard.) If the bus is ten inches above the roadway, the ramp would still be 81 inches.
This requirement could require major re-designs and expensive re-tooling of manufacturing facilities and may reduce the number of companies that can competitively participate in vehicle procurements.
(9) Operation. Power operated ramps and bridgeplates shall be deployable manually.
Without additional research, it is unclear whether this requirement is technically feasible and whether or not current and future designs could be limited as a result.
Lastly, we would note that in the movement toward low-floor buses, some manufacturers include a slope within the vehicle that is separate from the external ramp yet is integral to accessibility. We recommend that the guidelines address this issue.
(d) Securement devices.
(2) Location and size. The securement system shall have a clear floor area of 30 inches minimum by 48 inches minimum. One full unobstructed side of the clear floor area shall adjoin or overlap an access route. If a clear floor area is located in a bay or otherwise confined on all or part of three sides, additional maneuvering clearances shall be provided in accordance with the following:
(i) Forward Approach. Bays shall be 36 inches (915 mm) wide minimum where the depth exceeds 24 inches (610 mm).
(ii) Parallel Approach. Bays shall be 60 inches (1525 mm) wide minimum where the depth exceeds 15 inches (380 mm).
Securement areas may have fold-down seats to accommodate other passengers when a wheelchair or mobility aid is not occupying the area, provided the seats, when folded up, do not obstruct the clear floor space required.
(6) Stowage. When not being used for securement, or when the securement area can be used by standees, the securement system shall not protrude into the required clear floor area…
By definition, a two point securement system as specified in 1192.23(d)(1) that limits movement in the forward direction has to secure the mobility aid against something; otherwise the mobility aid will move freely in the rearward direction until it hits something. Therefore, virtually every securement area on a fixed route bus has obstructions on 3 sides that are at least 15 inches ‘deep’ and requires a ‘parallel approach.’ The increase in required clear floor space from 48 inches to 60 inches, coupled with the requirement that the securement system not intrude in this space, will likely result in an additional net loss of two seats for a total of four lost seats per occupied securement area (the loss of ‘toe space’ allowed in the current guidelines is not an issue on low-floor transit buses as there are no seats over the wheelhouse, but it may be an issue on other types of buses.)
The other option is to reduce the spacing between forward-facing seats in the remainder of the bus , which will make transit less accessible to ambulatory persons with disabilities and less comfortable, and therefore less attractive, for other riders.
(3) Mobility aids accommodated. The securement system shall secure wheelchairs and mobility aids which can enter and maneuver within a vehicle complying with this subpart and shall either be automatic or easily attached by a person familiar with the system and mobility aid and having average dexterity
There is absolutely no rational link between whether a mobility aid fits within a certain size and a) the ability of a securement system to secure it and b) whether the securement system can be easily attached. These two factors are determined by the mobility aids design. As noted earlier, mobility aids with sturdy, available locations for securement are pretty much a thing of the past. In some situations, we have had to begin developing special instructions for certain mobility aids because the ‘attach at a 45 degree angle to the floor to a permanent part of the mobility aid’ guidance to bus drivers is no longer universally applicable.
The requirement for only forward or rearward facing securement positions seems at odds with information contained in August 4, 2005 e-mail from Robert C. Ashby, USDOT Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Regulation and Enforcement regarding need for making a ‘reasonable modification’ to allow side-facing securement even though vehicle would no longer meet 23 CFR Part 1192.23 guidelines nor 49 CFR Part 38.23(d)(4) vehicle specifications. Maybe guidelines should contain general statement that the term ‘vehicle’ means ‘accessible per these guidelines,’ but that vehicles don’t have to meet the guidelines to have some accessibility features and to be used in designated or specified public transportation.
Metro Transit requests that the Board research the possible application of a rear-facing mobility aid position that uses a containment system rather than a securement system that requires intervention by the bus driver. This approach has been evaluated numerous times and is discussed in several federal or federally-funded publications.
1192.27 Priority seating signs.
(c) Characters on signs required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section shall comply with the following:
(2) Height. Where the height of the characters is 40 inches to 70 inches above the floor, the minimum character height shall be 5/8 inch. Where the characters are more than 70 inches above the floor, the minimum character height shall be 2 inches.
Many of these signs are decals that are posted on windows just above the top of the seat back, which means they will be below 40 inches above the floor. A character height of two inches is too large for the wording that has to go on the decal:
In all signage designating priority seating areas for elderly persons and persons with disabilities, or designating wheelchair securement areas, the entity shall include language informing persons sitting in these locations that they should comply with requests by transit provider personnel to vacate their seats to make room for an individual with a disability.
49 CFR Part 37.167 (j) (4) as amended at 58 FR 63103, Nov. 30, 1993
1192.29 Interior circulation, handrails and stanchions.
(c) For vehicles in excess of 22 feet in length, handholds shall be provided adjacent to the aisle on the back of each forward or rear facing seat.
Metro Transit requests clarity on what exactly is meant by ‘the back…of each seat’ as there are a variety of seat styles in common use by public transit agencies. We suggest that placement of these handholds be modified to reflect different seat styles without interfering with ‘hip-to-knee’ space. It should be noted that not every seat may have sufficient internal structure to allow attachment of a handhold. On a related note, we also request clarity on the maximum thickness allowed for the handhold and whether there is a minimum thickness. Lastly, we request the guidelines to specify how much weight the handhold must support.
While we are not suggesting this as a requirement, our standard practice is to include a horizontal grab bar across the top of the aisle-facing fold-up seat in the securement area; this helps some mobility aid users maintain their balance during cornering, etc.
1192.33 Fare box.
As noted earlier, many transit agencies are moving toward smart card fare payment systems. As we began installing our system a year or so ago by retrofitting readers onto our fleet, there was a great deal of discussion on design requirements (mounting height, reach range, readability, color, contrast, character size, audible features, etc.) As we found little concrete guidance, we ended up extrapolating from a variety of requirements for phones, ATM’s, etc. Metro Transit suggests that the vehicle guidelines include technical specifications for on-board smart card systems.
1192.35 Public information system.
(a) Vehicles in excess of 22 feet in length, used in multiple-stop, fixed-route service, shall be equipped with an automated stop announcement system.
While Metro Transit is in the process of installing the necessary equipment, hardware and software that will allow us to make automated stop announcements, we believe it is inappropriate for the Board to include such a requirement in an effort to enforce USDOT operational requirements. An automated stop announcement system is not just a matter of putting a black box on a bus, particularly for a medium to large transit agency. Such a system requires major investments in technology such a Global Positioning System and on-going system upgrades and maintenance.
Clearly, this proposed requirement requires substantial research into current and emerging technologies. The vehicle guidelines should specify the necessary technical requirements IF a transit agency opts to install an automated announcement system.
We would also note that a public address system is likely also necessary in the event of failure of the automated system.
(b) The same or equivalent information included in automated stop announcements shall be provided in a visual format.
It is debatable whether this is an appropriate requirement IF a bus is equipped with automated announcements without more information on what it would take to ‘convert’ the data from audible to visible. In any event, it would be an appropriate role for the Board to develop technical guidelines (color, scroll rate, etc.) for visual format systems, IF a transit agency opts to install such a system.
1192.37 Stop request.
(a) Where passengers may board or alight at multiple stops at their option, vehicles in excess of 22 feet in length shall provide controls adjacent to the securement location for requesting stops and which alerts the driver that a mobility aid user wishes to disembark. Such a system shall provide auditory and visual indications that the request has been made.
Please clarify whether ‘auditory and visual indications’ are intended for the driver or for the mobility aid user who requested the stop. If for the passenger, please provide technical specifications.
(b) Controls required by paragraph (a) of this section shall be mounted on a side wall, panel or partition adjacent to the required clear floor space no higher than 48 inches and no lower than 15 inches above the floor. Control centerlines shall be within three inches of a line midway between the forward and rearward limits of the required clear floor space. Controls shall be operable with one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate controls shall be no greater than 5 lbf (22.2 N).
Metro Transit requests clarification that the control can be mounted on the underside of a flip-up seat that must be folded to create the securement area. Also, please include advisory information on the type of control devices that can be operated by persons with limited arm movement.
1192.39 Destination and route signs.
(a) Where destination or route information is displayed on the exterior of a vehicle, each vehicle shall have illuminated signs on the front and boarding side of the vehicle.
Although this is not a new requirement, Metro Transit requests that the guidelines define ‘illuminated.’ We also suggest the guidelines provide advisory information on technical issues such most readable colors, differences in readability of various types of signs (i.e., flip dot, LED, etc.)
In closing, it is clear that Metro Transit has significant concerns about the major changes suggested in these draft revisions to the vehicle guidelines. Our goal is to work cooperatively with the Access Board to develop reasonable guidelines that will allow persons with a wide variety of disabilities to rely on public transportation to meet their travel needs.
Should you have any questions on our comments, please contact Bob Carroll, Transportation Planner III, in our Accessible Services group at 206-263-3104, or at email@example.com.
King County Metro Transit
cc: Park Woodworth, Manager, Paratransit/Rideshare Operations Section, King County Department of Transportation
http://www.firststreetonline.com/product.jsp?id=54492; notice how the scooter is marketed. Note also that the scooter easily breaks down into several pieces.
Vegas scooters are the latest in lazy; Devices for the infirm often being rented by the able-bodied. Associated Press story published by the Deseret News; http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660226558,00.html.
Make Way for The Sidewalk SUV; Motorized scooters for the disabled are finding a lucrative new market: People just sick of walking, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115291408087707342.html , The Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2006.
'In some cities BRT operates more like a bus while in others it is more like a train. Consequently, the design and operation of each local BRT program will determine the application of the appropriate transportation regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act since provisions exist for both bus and rail operations. Easter Seals Project ACTION is working with the Federal Transit Administration to identify factors related to effectively serving people with disabilities on BRT.’; from Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Accessibility in the U.S., Easter Seals Project ACTION, September 2005.
King County Metro currently requires spacing between transverse or forward-facing seats, of 30-7/8 to 32 inches center to center or a minimum of 29 inches ‘hip-to-knee.’ Aisle-facing seats are allowed between the third axle wheelhouse and the rear couch seat on articulated 60 foot buses; otherwise, forward-facing seats are preferred. There are no aisle-facing seats over the wheelhouses on low-floor buses.
E-mail was cited in November 8, 2005 letter from Cheryl L. Hershey, ADA Team Leader, FTA Office of Civil Rights to Leslie R. White, General Manager, Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District regarding making a reasonable modification to secure a mobility aid user in a side-facing position despite requirement for forward- or rearward-facing positions in 23 CFR Part 1192.23.
For example, see American Seating Company transit products at http://www.americanseating.com/productShow.aspx?id=0_83_trans or the Freedman Seating Company products at http://www.freedmanseating.com/Prodmain.html