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.
Download BART's Fleet of the Future Accessibility Features brochure (available in accessible PDF format and multiple languages).
Since the Fleet of the Future project began in 2011, BART has consulted with the accessibility and Limited-English-Proficient communities via dozens of community meetings and prototype evaluations. Through these events BART has identified many ways to improve accessibility on the new trains.
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.
Signs will also be posted on the walls:
Other design features that will help customers who use wheelchairs are:
- a new third door on each car, which will reduce congestion at each doorway by as much as 1/3, and will also provide a separate door for bicyclists to board to lessen interference with people who use wheelchairs;
- wider aisles to permit people who use wheelchairs to go down the aisles; and
- LCD screens and intercoms placed directly across from the wheelchair areas.
The intercom will be placed at a height of approximately four feet (conforming with ADA regulations) for ready 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, seniors, and people with mobility or balance related disabilities. have difficulty using ceiling rails and straps. Therefore multi-branch poles near the doorways were proposed for the new train cars. The poles are designed to provide a stable handhold for people to use when the train lurches during acceleration and deceleration.
In a survey of over 900 people with disabilities who visited the final train car model at ten locations around the Bay Area in April and May 2014, 72% rated the multi-branch poles as Excellent or Good. And among over 500 seniors who visited the model, 82% gave the poles an Excellent or Good rating. Many blind customers and people who use wheelchairs, however, have concerns about the pole impeding their path of travel.
Mental or Cognitive
Other Mobility Issue
In response to concerns, we have shifted the pole six inches away from the wheelchair area to widen the accessible path, and changed the floor design to embed a wheelchair symbol in the floor to remind customers to yield that area to people in wheelchairs. This provides a path that is approximately 49" wide—almost as wide as the 54" doorway.
We are also planning to test removal of poles in some locations when test cars arrive in 2016, and will ask riders with disabilities to help us evaluate this test. In addition, we plan to conduct public education campaigns to remind customers to step aside to make room for people who use wheelchairs as they enter and exit the train, especially when conditions are crowded. And we have set a goal to increase the number or cars in the BART fleet to at least 1,000 to reduce congestion on our trains and improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
In response to other feedback from customers who use wheelchairs, we have also raised the point where the three tripod branches meet the pole by four inches to eliminate a possible pinch points for wheelchair users.
Based on feedback from visually impaired customers, we have added colored decals on the poles to increase contrast and make the poles more visible.
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 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 grab to make it easier to sit down and stand up.
The new train cars will have ~50% 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 also 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 have a sight impairment locate a place to wait for the train before it arrives.
Each car will have six passenger information screens, and each screen will be located near one of the side doors. These screens will be valuable to riders with hearing impairments as well as other BART riders. The screens will use pictograms whenever possible to best serve customers with limited English proficiency. In addition, key information and terminology, such as "next" and "delay", will be translated into Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean whenever standard pictograms are not available. For sight-impaired customers, essential information will come from higher quality, automated 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.