A Better Transit Experience

A great deal of expense and planning is invested in building and operating public transit facilities whose primary focus is moving large volumes of people efficiently and safely. In a complex, highly active environment, people need to clearly understand where they are going and how to get there. As with any service-oriented business intent on retaining and adding customers, user experience is a vital consideration.

Designers of places and products have traditionally considered the needs and capabilities of the average user. This assumption has given us transportation systems and options that work well for some – the “average” person – but inadvertently creates barriers for others, including the 61 million people in the U.S. today with some form of disability and their families, colleagues, and caregivers traveling with them. More and more transit agencies realize that the implementation of the Principles of Universal Design enable them to be effective for the broadest base of transit users.

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

These suggestions consider distinctive issues confronting multiple disability groups and contribute to a desirable travel experience for everyone:

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)
  • Consider providing Audible Pedestrian Signals (APS) at crosswalks

Fare/ticket machines

  • Instructions and all information for use to be 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

  • Reduce crossing width (Bumpouts)

People who are deaf or hard of hearing

Wayfinding

  • Provide extensive directional and information signage with enhanced lighting
  • Directional floor graphics

People with cognitive disabilities

Wayfinding

  • Provide extensive 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

  • Provide extensive 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 all information for use to be accessible to and independently usable by persons with vision impairments

Universal design in transportation offers a path to achieving a better travel experience that is favorable for the widest range of people. Incorporated at the earliest stages of a project’s development, universal design details need not be costly, and their seamless integration can defy the stereotype that accessible design is unattractive. A shared commitment on the part of cities, transportation agencies, and their designers to serve all members of the public equally is a prudent investment not only in practical transit infrastructure today but also in a socially sustainable future.

 

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

 

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