A Better Transit Experience

A Better Transit Experience

The user experience is a vital consideration in planning and designing large transportation facilities whose primary purpose is moving large volumes of people efficiently and safely. Universal design in transportation offers a path to achieving a travel experience that is favorable for all people.

 

Designers traditionally considered the needs and capabilities of the average user. Therefore, most transportation systems today work well for some – the “average” person – but inadvertently creates barriers for others, including the 61 million people in the U.S. today with a disability and their families, colleagues, and caregivers traveling with them.

61 million Americans have a disability that impacts major life activities.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau: 2016

Today, a shared commitment on the part of cities, transportation agencies, and designers to serve all members of the public equally is a prudent investment in transit infrastructure. Incorporated at the earliest stages of a project’s development, universal design elements seamlessly integrate with the design intent while defying the stereotype that accessible design is unattractive, added later, and expensive.

These suggestions for universal design in transportation consider issues confronting multiple disability groups:

People who are blind or have a visual impairment

Wayfinding

  • Directional and information signage that is easy to read and understand
  • Enhanced lighting at signage, key facility elements, and pedestrian routes
  • Tactile ground surface indicators
  • Directional floor graphics
  • Underfoot detectable platform edge warnings
  • Tactile maps

Pedestrian street/vehicular way crossing

  • Reduce crossing width (Bumpouts)
  • Audible Pedestrian Signals (APS) at crosswalks

Fare/ticket machines

  • Instructions and information accessible to and independently usable by persons with vision impairments

“Comfort” areas for service animals

Digital wayfinding Apps

People with mobility limitations

Elevators

  • Centrally located
  • Cabs that are easy to enter and exit
  • Audible floor designators that provide voice direction

Seating in waiting areas (Bus Platform and Kiss and Ride)

Slopes on accessible pedestrian routes

  • 4% max. for the running slope
  • 1.5% max. for cross slope
  • Handrails on both sides of 4% or steeper running slope

Reduce travel distance between accessible amenities

Curb ramps

  • Eliminate by raising/lowering sidewalk crossing
  • Ensure flush transition between paving materials

Reduce pedestrian street crossings distance (Bumpouts)

Transition from vehicle to platform

  • Ramp from bus to platform: greater than 5% slope provide 5 ft long level runout
  • Ramp with less than 5% slope, provide 4 ft long level runout

Fare/ticket machines

  • On an accessible route
  • Controls and instructions within reach and vision range

Accessible parking location & design

  • 10% of all parking spaces to be accessible
  • 20% of all accessible parking to provide an 8 ft access aisle

Pedestrian street/vehicular way crossings

  • Bumpouts

People who are deaf or hard of hearing

Wayfinding

  • Directional and information signage with enhanced lighting
  • Directional floor graphics

People with cognitive disabilities

Wayfinding

  • Directional and information signage with enhanced lighting
  • Directional floor graphics

Fare/ticket machines

  • Easy to understand/intuitive operation instructions

People who are both deaf and blind

Wayfinding

  • Directional and information signage with enhanced lighting
  • Tactile ground surface indicators

Platform edge warnings with color contrasting truncated domes

Pedestrian street/vehicular way crossings (Reduce/provide APS)

Fare/ticket machines

  • Instructions and information accessible to and independently usable by persons with vision impairments

 

These suggestions for universal design in transportation offer a path to achieving a travel experience that works better for everyone, including people with disabilities, people traveling with people with disabilities, and people without disabilities.

This post was written by John H. Catlin, FAIA and Robert Zimmerman

 

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