Rail Car Accessibility

Public Weighs in on Updates to Accessibility Guidelines for Rail Cars

By PVA National Staff

The U.S. Access Board received over 200 comments from the public on its plan to update provisions for rail cars in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles.

This feedback was provided in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking the Board published in February. The comment period for the notice, which was extended 60 days due to the coronavirus pandemic, closed on July 14.

Through its notice, the Board sought input and information from the public for its use in developing a proposal to update guidelines for vehicles used in fixed guideway systems, including rapid, light, commuter, and intercity rail. As indicated in the notice, the Board intends to update these provisions according to recommendations from its Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee.

The Board requested feedback from the public on the Committee’s recommendations, including potential impacts on vehicle design, operations, and cost, and related information such as research, data, and technologies on improved accessibility to rail vehicles.

The notice also included specific questions on coverage of new and remanufactured vehicles, variable message signs, hearing induction loops, vehicle ramps and lifts, car doors, between-car barriers, handrails and stanchions, wheelchair spaces, vertical access in bi-level cars, and other topics.

Many comments supported equipping rail cars with audio induction loops so that onboard communications are accessible to people who are hard of hearing.

Commenters also addressed relief areas for service animals and improved visual display of announcements and stops, and other topics. The comments and related information are posted in the online docket (ATBCB-2020-0002) on regulations.gov.

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