BART Board votes to change Fleet of Future floor plan
The BART Board voted to approve an agreement between BART and disability advocates to address concerns raised by disability organizations regarding the floor plan for BART’s Fleet of the Future. The Fleet of the Future is the name used by BART for the program to replace BART’s aging fleet, and increase the size of the fleet to relieve crowding on the system. The first new cars are slated to go into service in Fall 2016. This agreement was between BART and the following three disability advocacy organizations: the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (“CFILC”), Community Resources for Independent Living (“CRIL”), the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco (“ILRCSF”), and two individuals: Nikki Brown-Booker and Reba Landry. These organizations and individuals have been represented by Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”) – a nonprofit legal center - in reaching a compromise agreement with BART. Disability Rights California also participated in the negotiations.
The agreement changes the floor plan on the new train cars to consolidate all wheelchair zones at the middle door of each new train car, which will allow passengers with more than one wheelchair user in their group to be closer together when they ride BART. Under the plan, BART also agrees to remove all floor-to-ceiling poles in the middle door area to maximize accessible paths.
The new plan retains tripod poles at end doors for semi-ambulatory people with disabilities, senior citizens, and others who need extra stability as the train accelerates and decelerates. There will be signage on the outside of the trains showing which doors have parking areas for people who use wheelchairs, and which doors have bicycle parking. Under the agreement, BART and the disability organizations will work together to inform passengers with disabilities about the new floor plan, pictured below.
The compromise agreement keeps the same number of seats, wheelchair areas, and bike areas as the floor plan approved by the BART Board in June 2014, and still maintains an almost 50% increase in priority seating for seniors and people with disabilities (shown in green above). Blind customers will always find priority seating immediately to their left as they enter the car.
The revised plan was endorsed by the BART Accessibility Task Force (BATF), BART’s advisory group representing people with disabilities, last month. Alan Smith, BATF Chair, said “the new plan provides diverse amenities to meet diverse needs within the disability community. People with some types of disabilities who need something stable to hold onto when the train accelerates or decelerates will find tripod poles at the end doors of each car, while people with other types of disabilities who prefer a wide open accessible path will find that at the middle doors.”
“BART takes pride in enhancing mobility for people with disabilities, and we are pleased to approve this agreement with DRA,” said BART Board President Tom Blalock. “This agreement paves the way for arrival of the first ten pilot cars to confirm the reliability and safety of the new cars this fall.”
Nikki Brown-Booker, a wheelchair-user who rides BART several times a week said, “I am looking forward to the new BART cars and relieved to know that I can continue to rely on BART to get where I need and want to go. I also look forward to being able to ride together with other wheelchair-users when we travel together.”
Sheri Burns, Executive Director of CRIL stated, “We are pleased that BART has listened to the concerns of the disability community and worked with us to negotiate a solution that did not require us to go to court to enforce the rights of people with disabilities.”
Teresa Favuzzi, Executive Director of CFILC said, “We recognize that this design is a compromise, and while many riders with vision and mobility disabilities would be best served by having no floor-to-ceiling poles in the new BART cars, we are pleased that the new fleet of BART cars will meet the needs of a diverse group of riders with disabilities.”
DRA staff attorney Rebecca Williford said, “This compromise marks a historic moment and a win for the local disability community, many of whom rely exclusively on public transportation. BART has done the right thing in working out a compromise to ensure that this access continues.”
Bike Space to be Tested
The Board also voted to test various bike space scenarios using the 10 test trains cars. Six test train cars will have a bike rack at one end door. Two test train cars will have one area of flexible family/open space for bikes, luggage, strollers and families at one end door and no bike rack. Two additional test trains will have both a bike rack at one door and flexible family/open space at another door.