Analysis of Movable Bus Stop Boarding and Alighting Areas
Bus stops are key links in the journeys of riders with disabilities. Because of physical, sensory, or mental challenges, people with disabilities often rely on public transportation as their primary source of transportation. However, inaccessible bus stops could prevent them from using fixed-route bus services, thus encourage them to use the more expensive paratransit services. A bus stop becomes inaccessible because of the lack of a loading pad and/or connected sidewalks with ADA-compliant curb ramps.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prescribes the minimum requirements for bus stop accessibility for riders with disabilities. Title II of the ADA covers sidewalk and street construction and transit accessibility, referencing the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for all new construction and alterations undertaken by or on behalf of a state or local government. In addition, the Department of Justice Title II Regulation specifically mandates ADA-compliant curb ramps when sidewalks or streets are newly constructed or altered.
While the ADA requirements are well-intentioned, compliance with such requirements inevitably presents a major burden on cash-strapped transit agencies. Typically, to meet ADA requirements, Florida transit agencies install concrete slabs at bus stops. These pads can cost a minimum of $2,000 per stop, depending on the site characteristics and preparations for installation.
Recently, the state of Florida has been involved in legal actions which require transit agencies and local governments to ensure that all bus stops are ADA compliant. Many transit agencies have responded by installing permanent features such as concrete pads and other amenities to meet ADA regulations. Simultaneously, economic conditions have caused many transit agencies to discontinue or reconfigure routes to reduce costs and maximize system efficiencies. Services along particular routes are often terminated or relocated, leaving in place the permanent bus stop features such as the concrete pad along a roadway right of way. Additionally, new concrete pads may be required at new bus stops along a newly relocated transit route, if service along the corridor was not previously provided. This constant removal and installation of these permanent features can be costly to transit agencies and/or local governments. Considering that several of Florida’s larger urbanized transit agencies have service areas containing thousands of bus stops which may be updated or relocated every few years due to changes in ridership and/or transit services, the costs involved are significant.
To maximize limited capital revenues, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is interested in the feasibility of using movable/reusable/relocatable boarding and alighting pads. As shown in Table 1, the use of movable pads not only could result in potential savings in construction materials and installation, but could also reduce or even totally eliminate the cost for Maintenance of Traffic (MOT), which is one of the more expensive line items. Movable pads could also reduce the construction duration, thus save on labor cost and reduce construction impacts to traffic and abutting businesses and residents. Additionally, FDOT is interested in identifying site improvements, potential placement of benches, shelters, and other amenities relative to the movable stops and the estimated costs necessary to install and remove the surfaces, including site preparations necessary for installation and use.
The goal of this project is to explore the feasibility of creating movable bus stop boarding and alighting areas for Florida transit agencies. The specific objectives to be accomplished to achieve this goal include:
- Researching the state-of-the-practice and issues involved in meeting bus stop ADA requirements;
- Developing design alternative(s) for movable/reusable/relocatable boarding and alighting pads, considering their relation to other bus stop amenities such as benches and shelters;
- Performing life-cycle cost analysis of each design alternative; and
- Recommending one or more alternatives that are acceptable to both transit agencies and riders with disabilities.