The CTA celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act this week by noting the strides it has made in making public transit accessible. But there is more work to do.
The act was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, ensuring the civil rights of people with disabilities. The legislation has expanded opportunities for people with disabilities including the mandate of accessible public transportation services that help to eliminate barriers and enable full participation in community life.
The CTA notes it has made a number of achievements that have helped to make its bus and rail service more accessible. From the press release:
- Buses: Since 2004, all CTA buses have been accessible to riders and feature ramps, priority seating areas that include wheelchair securement devices, Braille signage, automated voice announcements – interior and exterior -- for all stops and also LED signage.
- Trains: All rail cars in the fleet are wheelchair accessible and feature designated priority seating and wheelchair securement areas, Braille signage and automated announcements. More than 700 of the new 5000-series rail cars are in use along the Red, Green Pink, Purple and Yellow lines, which feature two wheelchair positions per car, visual indicators and destination signs and improved LED displays that complement recorded announcements to assist individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
- Rail Stations: Nearly 70 percent (100 of 145) stations are currently accessible via elevators or ramps. Work is currently either planned or underway at seven stations to enhance or make the facilities compliant with ADA guidelines. Rail station accessibility features include either elevators or ramps; entry gates; tactile edging along the platform to assist in navigation; Braille signage, audio announcements and gap fillers to bridge the space between the platform and rail cars.
- Service Information: Currently, 350 bus shelters are equipped with Bus Tracker displays that feature an audio component, which emits a low-tone beep so it can be easily located. This feature provides customers who are blind or visually impaired with audible estimated bus arrival information. In addition, CTA’s web site, transitchicago.com, meets modern web standards, as well as federal and state guidelines for accessibility; and
- Travel Information: Instructional materials are available that familiarize riders with accessible features of the system and how to contact CTA personnel for assistance when riding or what to do in the event of an emergency.
- Employee Training: Every two years operations personnel are recertified on employing proper procedures when assisting customers with disabilities. Additionally, the CTA employs a Manager of ADA Compliance Programs, a position that interacts within all levels of the organization to ensure compliance within the law, as well as to promote best practices in terms of accommodating customers and staff who have disabilities.
- Elevators: status information is available online, via e-mail, phone or TTY, and on the Elevator Status Boards located in all rail stations.
- ADA Advisory Committee: Established by the Chicago Transit Board, this committee serves in an advisory capacity to the CTA and has up to 12 members appointed to two-year terms. This committee is responsible for providing recommendations on the CTA’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), facilitating a dialogue between the CTA and the disability community, and increasing the use of the CTA’s services by people with disabilities. ADA Advisory Committee meetings are held quarterly at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street.
The CTA in the last four years also has added accessibility to five rail stations, with seven more stations slated for upgrades. It also opened three new, fully accessible rail stations.
There are still many rail stations that are inaccessible. Interestingly, all South Side rail stations south of Roosevelt are accessible now, since the 2013 rehab of the Red Line South.
On the North Side, the Brown Line is fully accessible after a half-billion dollar rehab project; and so are the three Yellow Line stations. But on the Red, Blue and Purple lines north of the Loop, more than 50 percent of the rail stations are not accessible - 24 of 43 stations are not equipped with elevators.
So, there's work to be done, and many billions of dollars to be secured to do it.
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