Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act. Here's a look at the progress the CTA has made in making its facilities and vehicles more accessible for those with disabilities.
- In 1990, buses were not wheelchair accessible, and there no automatic voice or visual announcements.
- Today, the entire fleet of almost 1,800 buses accommodates
wheelchairs by ramp, and feature wheelchair securement areas. Plus,
there are automated voice announcements, and LED signage on all buses.
- In 1990, just 11 of 142 rail stations (8%) had elevators to the
platforms. Stations had no gap fillers to bridge the space between the
platform and rail cars to allow for wheelchair boardings.
- Today, 91 of 144 stations (63%) have elevators or ramps to the
platforms. All stations have gap fillers, plus tactile edging and
customer call buttons. The Midway branch opened with accessilbe stations
in 1993. And since then, station work made stations accessible on the
Green, Pink and Brown lines.
- Elevator work continues at the Cermak Red Line station and will be
complete by the end of the year. The Grand/State Red Line station rehap
will provide elevator access by 2011.
- In 1990. only about a quarter of 1,200 cars had sliding doors and
flip seats that could accommodate a wheelchair. There was no Braille
signage nor automated voice announcements.
- Today, all trains have cars accessible to wheelchairs. Most of a
designated wheelchair securement area. And all rail cars have Braille
signage and automated voice announcements
Clearly, there's more to do though. The CTA is testing the new Series
5000 rail cars. More than 400 are under contract. Each car will feature
two wheelchair securement areas and LED signage at both ends. All old
CTA rail cars with accordion-style doors will be replaced by the new
Without capital funding, odds are long for the approximately 50 rail stations not currently accessible to be rehabbed. We should continue to press both state and federal lawmakers for more money.