BART has long been at the forefront regarding accessibility. The selection of new cars which would severely restrict access for many, and eliminate access for some, however, is a step in the wrong direction. The disability rights community calls on BART to honor by their hard-won reputation as the most accessible system of public transportation in the country, and take action that would make ridership safe and accessible for all Bay Area commuters.
Disability is a natural part of the human condition. People with disabilities come from all walks of life, in all colors, sizes, genders and ages. Those of us living with disabilities bring something to the table whether it is fresh perspective, political savviness, indomitable spirit, energizing presence, bold intellect, etc. We contribute to society BECAUSE of who we are. Human difference and diversity enriches community. Disability is not special; it's just a part of life.
For many people with disabilities in the Bay Area, public transportation is the only means of travel for work, shopping, school, healthcare and living independently in the community. BART is the fifth-busiest, heavy rapid rail transit system in the United States, transporting over 100,000 passengers each day throughout four Bay Area counties. BART is a vital regional link for our community.
- BART should be incorporating principles of Universal Design from the ground up. Universal Design principles involve designing products and spaces so that they can be utilized by the broadest spectrum of people possible, including those with disabilities.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the California UNRA Civil Rights Act, as well as Article Nine of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities addresses the need for eliminating obstacles and barriers toward enabling people with disabilitiesto live independently, and to be full participants in all aspects of life. This includes every aspect of using public transportation: from paying the fare, to going up the elevator and escalator, to safely and easily boarding the train, to ensuring that information is accessible to individuals with hearing and vision loss, to accommodating service animals, and riding comfortably.
- Access is a civil right – not a special interest. Unlike race or sexual orientation, providing equal opportunity for people with disabilities requires foresight and attention to the built environment. Concerns regarding the new BART car design include the following:
- Y-shaped poles that are in the path of travel to the accessible seating area.
- The wheelchair space being too small for most power chairs and scooters.
- Eliminating wheelchair seating throughout every car, and segregating wheelchair users to either the front or the back of the car.
- The center pole does not allow people who use larger power chairs or 4-wheeled scooters to turn around.
- The LED informational screen is not supplemented with an audible information announcement for low vision and blind riders.
- The elimination of two priority seats - per car.