The new BART train cars will include a variety of features and improvements for people with disabilities, as well as for people who speak languages other than English.
Since the Fleet of the Future project began, BART has consulted with the accessibility and Limited-English-Proficient communities via a series of community meetings and prototype evaluations. Through these events BART has identified many ways to improve accessibility on the new trains.
During initial public seat labs in 2011, BART heard from many riders that the seats are too low - making it difficult to sit down and get up. One of the goals of the seat labs was to determine an acceptable seat height. Seat lab participants evaluated various seat heights. Overwhelmingly, seat lab participants expressed a preference for seats that were at least 1.5 inches higher off the ground than today's BART seats.
In the current design, the seats also include a seat back handhold that will give customers something to hold on to to make it easier to sit down and stand up.
The new train cars will have more priority seating for seniors, pregnant women, parents with children, and people with disabilities. During public outreach, many customers told us they often encounter passengers who do not offer the priority seats to those who may need them. To make priority seating areas more obvious to passengers, BART is proposing the use of a contrasting color for the seat material.
Below is an example of the proposed concept. The green seats will be the priority seats for seniors and people with disabilities.
The new train cars will have 50% more doors than the current cars. Each car will have a third door in the middle of the car making it faster and easier for customers to get on and off. The two other doors will be in the same location as they are today.
When one of the new train cars stops at a station, the outer doors of each car will line up with the existing black tactile markers on the platform. This will help people who are sight impaired and wheelchair users to identify the best place to wait for the train.
Six passenger information screens will be located near the doors in each car. These screens will be valuable to riders with hearing impairments as well as other BART riders. The screens will be designed to use pictograms whenever possible to best serve customers with limited English proficiency. In addition, for the most essential types of information, such as "next" and "delay", translation into Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean will often be provided whenever standard pictograms are not available. For sight-impaired customers, essential information will come from higher quality, automatic audio announcements.
For passengers waiting on station platforms, the new trains will have exterior digital signs showing the route color and destination of the train, and exterior speakers will provide audio information.
BART is currently working with Bombardier to develop and test an induction loop system. If the testing goes well, this system will transmit audio announcements and other BART information directly to receptive hearing aids and cochlear implants.
The new train cars will have a wheelchair area at the end of each car, which will accommodate 20 wheelchair users in total on a 10 car train. BART staff is currently working with Bombardier to incorporate a wheelchair graphic in the floor to help remind riders to yield the wheelchair area to wheelchair users when they board the train.
Also, each doorway area will be equipped with an emergency intercom placed at an appropriate height (conforming with ADA regulations) for easier access by wheelchair users.
Throughout the customer feedback process we have heard about the lack of adequate handholds on the train cars. Many shorter passengers and those with mobility impairments have difficulty using ceiling rails and straps. Therefore the new train cars will have multi-branch poles near the doorways.
While the multi-branch poles were very popular with most customers, some wheelchair users expressed concern about the pole impeding their path from the doorways to the priority areas for wheelchair users.
To provide a wider path, we are shifting the pole several inches further away from the wheelchair area, which will increase the width of the path to 49 inches - which is nearly equal to the width of the door opening (54 inches). We also plan to actively remind customers to step aside to make room for wheelchair users to more easily enter and exit the train, especially when conditions are crowded.
In response to other feedback from wheelchair users, we have also raised the point where the three tripod branches meet the pole by 3-4 inches to eliminate pinch points for wheelchair users.
Finally, some visually impaired customers told us that it would be helpful to put colored decals on the poles to increase contrast and make the poles more visible, so we have changed the design to do that as well.
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