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ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Metro Trains

The ADA accessibility guidelines for various modes of public transit address a number of issues. In particular, the role of these guidelines is to help Americans with disabilities access public transit systems. There are guidelines that seek to help all kinds of people with all sorts of disabilities.  For instance, in order to be ADA-compliant, train stations must pay close attention to the distance between the train car and the platform.  This distance is of critical importance to people who are using wheelchairs.

However, this distance can also be critically important to people who are visually impaired.  In 2007, 124 persons were killed on commuter rails, and 1,548 were injured, according to the Bureau of Transportation.  Unfortunately, there are no recent statistics on the number of people who fall each year due to non-compliant gaps between the train cars and the platforms.  In spite of this lack of data, the ADA accessibility guidelines address this very real problem.  To ensure that visually impaired riders are able to easily bypass these gaps, stations should install tactile strips or curbing.  These strips can be detected by long canes, and they allow people to sense where they should be boarding.    

Between-car barrier systems can also help to prevent impaired metro riders from mistaking a space between cars for an entry point.  These barrier systems work best for stations with elevated platforms and trains with a consistent car length.

Stations are required to implement other measures to help their visually impaired riders, such as large-print signs that offer information about train routes and timetables.  These signs should also be in Braille for the legally blind.  To ensure that impaired or legally blind individuals know when to exit the train, the train must announce all transfer points and all major intersections.  In addition to making announcements on the train itself, the station must be equipped to make audio announcements that are broadcast throughout the station.

Following the ADA accessibility guidelines is extremely important.  If train stations fail to become ADA-compliant, they can face fines and other disciplinary measures.  However, the most important part of following these guidelines is not avoiding a fine—rather, it is making transit accessible for everyone, especially those who need it the most.