Office of Technical & Informational Services
Architectural & Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, NW., Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111
Subject: Docket 2007-1 Proposed Changes to ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles
Dear Mr. Cannon:
New Flyer of America Inc. (“New Flyer”) has done a comprehensive review of the proposed changes as represented in the draft revisions released by your offices on April 11, 2007 and is hereby furnishing a response to the request for comments set out in Federal Register dated April 11, 2007 at page 18179.
New Flyer supports the need for an update to the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regulations and will continue in our efforts to meet or exceed the current and future requirements set out therein.
The requested comments will be presented in point form referencing the applicable paragraph and or section of the proposal.
1192.21(c) and 1192.23 (c) (2) – The volume definition (30” x 48” x 40”) should be modified to include an exemption within 2 inches of the flooring allowing for deviations due to trim in aisle ways, and mechanical linkages and hardware found on lift and ramp assemblies. Amendments to permit the volume of the width to be 1.5 inches less when within 2 inches of the floor, would make the volume definition consistent with the lift requirements of 1192.23 (b) 6. This would facilitate better ramp design and would cause no significant reduction in accessibility, provided that changes from the full width to the reduced width occurs gradually. This would be similar to the threshold transition guidelines described in 1192.23 (c) (3), so as not to create obstacles to the wheels when in motion.
1192.23 (a) (2) – The requirement of “At least one route (from the doorway) to each securement location shall have a clear width of 36 inches minimum, measured from floor level to a height of 40 inches…”, is not achievable with current low floor axle designs. This is due to the amount of space available between the front axle suspension components housed in the wheel wells. Current designs have a clear width (at floor level) of slightly more than 35 inches, and tapers outward as it becomes higher from the floor. Maintaining the frame integrity in this area and modifying the exterior wheel housing covers and trim would not increase this clearance appreciably. A modification to the frame, without infringing on the operation of the axle, may result in an advantage of less than an inch of additional clearance, but would also require testing of the newly-designed bus frame at Altoona, Pennsylvania to verify the structural integrity of the bus. This testing is not only expensive, but requires several months to complete. This would increase the cost of the bus to transit agencies.
One option which would bypass this limitation imposed by the wheel wells is to incorporate the accessible doorway aft of the front axle. This alternative creates operational difficulties for the driver, increases the overall cost of the bus and would also reduce available seating substantially, thus making it an unattractive option to transit agencies.
Again, the modified frame would also require expensive and time consuming Altoona testing to verify the structural integrity due to the relocation of the doorway. Current designs are capable of allowing passage of a mobility device with a maximum width of 30 inches and were intended to achieve the maximum space possible between the wheel ends, while ensuring the steering and operational characteristics of the axle were not compromised. New Flyer recommends this dimension be reduced to 34 inches. 1192.23 (a) (2) – This paragraph also indicates “…and a clear width of 30 inches above a height of 40 inches.” How high must this 30 inches of clear width be maintained? If not specified, we assume that this clear space must extend to the limit of the ceiling. If so, this would prevent the incorporation of ceiling level horizontal stanchions, and may affect the inclusion of some advertising panels and interior lighting systems.
1192.23 (a) (2); 1192.23 (d) (2) (ii) – An increase in securement area length from 48 inches to 60 inches would put severe restrictions on bus design and result in reductions to seating capacity which would not be favorable to our customers. Also, certain popular wheelchair restraint systems (e.g. American Seating telescoping A.R.M.) can not be offered, because it will intrude into the required 60 inches of clear floor space.
The increase could be adopted for our current 35 and 40 foot designs, but would decrease seating capacity by 2 passenger seats. The total number of seats lost is dependant upon the seat model selected, the hip to knee room, and rear door width specified by the customer. Floor-mounted transverse heaters located under the seats forward of the rear door may also have to be removed depending upon seat style and layout selected. On the 60-foot design, there is once again a possible reduction in seats, certain wheelchair restraint systems (see previously mentioned example) and floor mounted heater could not be offered. The option of a center door forward of the center axle might have to be deleted depending upon seat model selection and wheelchair restraint requirements.
On a typical 40 foot design the change equates to a 5% reduction in available seating, this is a very undesirable characteristic from a Sales point of view. New Flyer recommends that the minimum length of the securement area be maintained at 48”, allowing OEM’s to increase the total available length depending upon seat style selection and hip to knee space requirements specified by transit agencies.
1192.23 (c) (1) – New Flyer can achieve the increased design load for ramps and bridgeplates to the recommended capacity of 660 lb with a safety factor of 3.
1192.23 (c) (4) – This statement should be amended for safety reasons. For a ramp with the proposed slope of 1:8, the outer two feet of the ramp (3 x 8 = 24 inches) would no longer require the 2 inch barrier on the sides. For a ramp with a slope of 1:6, that would translate into 1.5 feet of the outer ramp surface with no barrier. A drop of 3 inches by any one wheel of many mobility devices (depending on speed) could cause an imbalance (similar to having one wheel fall off a low curb). The barriers may not need to extend the entire length of the ramp, but the gentler the slope, the longer the distance without a barrier. Many mobility devices will enter or exit the vehicle in reverse, the lack of a barrier in these cases may result in injury.
Perhaps a height of 1 to 1.5 inches above the boarding and alighting surface would be more appropriate. With a height requirement of 1-inch, a ramp with a slope of 1:8 will have no barrier for the last 8 inches, and for ramp with a slope of 1:6, only the last 6 inches will have no barrier.
1192.23 (c) (5) – The proposed ramp “maximum slope of 1:8 when deployed to roadway” is not realistically possible in a heavy-duty transit bus application due to several factors. Some of these factors are axle design, tire design, permissible ramp length within the vehicle (stowed) and bus stop design (sidewalk depth). Assuming an average flooring height of 12 inches above the ground in a fully kneeled position, this would require a ramp of 96 inches in length (8 feet). A slope of 1:6 is achievable on a heavy duty transit bus without imposing a severe structural redesign. This would be accomplished by incorporating a ramp which is approximately 72 inches in length. With the ramp in a deployed state, the top 24 inches of that length would be inside the vehicle. The remaining 4 feet of the ramp length would be outside the vehicle and would work with the infrastructure for the majority of existing bus stops.
1192.23 (d) (5) – New Flyer requests clarification with regard to the following “When the wheelchair or mobility aid is secured in accordance with manufacture’s instructions, the securement system shall limit the movement of the occupied wheelchair or mobility aid to no more than 2 inches in any direction under normal vehicle operating conditions”. This might be a problem with the rearward facing wheelchair securement system. Can mobility securement devices (e.g. American Seating telescoping A.R.M.) infringe upon the clear space (30” x 60” x 40”) requirement once the mobility device is in place?
1192.29 (c) – Is the “handhold” designation in this section a reference to stanchions or seat design? Some transverse seat systems have built in handholds on the inboard side of the seat, must these handholds all be combined with vertical stanchions or is the seat handhold sufficient? If a seat back is directly in front of a partition (such as in front of the exit doorway) does that seat require a handhold or stanchion if it is within a certain distance of an exiting vertical stanchion?
1192.29 (e) – Regarding “…the platform, to the maximum extent practicable, shall not extend into the aisle…”. The driver’s platform is designed not only for the driver’s foot and hand controls and related driver’s ergonomic issues, it also houses the steering linkage and other components relocated with the change in bus design from high floor to low floor. The statement is rather redundant, as in the attempt to make the access envelope as large as possible, the drivers platform has already been made as small as possible.
1192.31 Lighting – Suggestion - Could a provision be made in the lighting section regarding a requirement for visual and audible warning indicators for ramp/lift function? Currently most ramp/lift systems already have both visible flashing lamp and an audible pulsing alarm to warn when the ramp or lift is in operation. These warning systems are not required or regulated in FMVSS, and nor are they mentioned in the current ADA documentation. Once required in the ADA, then the CFR could be amended to regulate lamp color, size, function, location as well as alarm volume and frequency.
1192.31 (c) – New Flyer requests clarification on this paragraph. It states that the vehicle shall have “outside light(s)” to provide illumination when the door is open. Currently we install porch lamps and or curb lamps to accomplish this. Our customers are asking that the exterior lamps be removed (as they tend to be continuously damaged by trees, bus washes etc.) and instead incorporate lamps at the top of the door in the header assembly, which provide the required illumination. If lighting systems are available which are capable of providing the required illumination, could the word “outside” be removed from the regulation?
1192.31 (c) – Also, New Flyer requests a clarification of where the illumination is measured from. If the illumination is from the edge of the step with a ramp system fully stowed, when the ramp is deployed, only the first three feet of the ramp will be illuminated to 1 foot-candle. The suggested incorporation of a decreased slope of 1:8 (1192.23 (c) (5)) which will extend the length of most ramps and illumination may not be sufficient. It should also be noted that with the removal of a requirement for the 2” edge guard when less than 3 inches above the unloading surface (1192.23 (c) (4)) the outer two feet of the ramp will have very little illumination coupled with the potential drop of up to 3” off either side. 1192.35 – Automated stop announcement systems on fixed-route vehicles would require incorporation of a global positioning system, and a programmable control unit to synchronize both the audible and visual display systems. A conservative estimate of the cost of these systems would be between $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 per vehicle plus regular service provider and maintenance fees. Many of the smaller transit agencies that purchase buses with private funding, are not able to afford such expensive options, but still want a vehicle which is ADA-compliant. The cost of this technology will decrease in time, but currently it is too expensive for many of our customers to buy or maintain these options.
1192.37 (b) – “Control centerlines shall be within 3 inches of a line midway between the forward and rearward limits of the required clear floor space.” Can the 3 inch dimension be increased to 6 inches? Depending on the wheelchair restraint system utilized, an occupant can be centered in the wheelchair area, or be secured at either end such as with the wheelchair caliper system, or rear facing back support. Use of these types of securement systems would result in the signal being out of reach of the wheelchair occupant.
As previously stated, New Flyer fully supports the need for regulations and guidelines to assist manufactures in producing buses which will meet the needs of the mobility challenged community. After reviewing the proposed amendments however, it appears that some of these amendments are more suited to paratransit vehicles and not heavy-duty transit vehicles.
New Flyer suggests that there be a separation of the existing regulations into two groups, those for buses and those for vans (Paratransit) vehicles.
New Flyer recommends that a suggestion for maximum size, weight and minimum maneuverability requirements for transit approved mobility devices be forwarded to the DOJ and DOT, so that they can create their appropriate limitations for chair dimensions. Once done, it would ensure that the recommended envelope for mobility devices, can accommodate the defined maximum size. Manufactures of transit approved devices could in turn affix a label to the device (similar to helmets) which designates it as transit accessible.
We would also recommend that you supply mobility device manufactures with specifications which would permit them to advertise that the device is “Transit Certified”. Those devices which are beyond the size and weight limits for transit certification would require more individualized care which would not be available on the average transit bus.
Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing
New Flyer of America Inc.
Headquarters/ Winnipeg Facility
711 Kernaghan Ave.,Winnipeg, Manitoba
R2C 3T4 Canada
Ph: (204) 224-1251
cc: Colin Pewarchuk, Kerry Legg