BART — Too Few Disabled Riders to Matter?

by Bob Planthold on October 7, 2014

BART's ongoing disability access problems

BART board and staff actions the past few years seems less based on principles than on appeasing large numbers of [ potential ] passengers.

– During 2013’s two strikes, people with disabilities were prevented from riding the free accessible shuttle busses. Instead, those passengers were directed over to a paratransit van, isolated from all other passengers. Despite complaints about this segregation — with e-mails to the BART board, General Manager, Board chair, customer service department, and others BART’s response has been total silence.

– BART suggested an informal policy for escalator passengers: stand to the right so impatient passengers could pass. BART ignored that people with guide dogs, crutches, and walkers could be bumped by those same impatient passengers. This tacit permission to passengers to push by others could mean a vulnerable passenger gets knocked down, on a “down”

escalator. Still no response from anyone at BART.

– BART staff won’t research the archives for a 15- year-old commitment to the BART Access Task Force to have escalators run at a slower speed, so that passengers who aren’t as fleet of foot and as nimble as staff can go down safely and easily, without being pulled down by the faster speed that is considered standard. BART says it would cost too much staff time to research the archives, ignoring the much-higher costs of a personal-injury suit by anyone knocked down by an impatient passenger brushing by while expecting all to stand to the right

– People with disabilities have already demonstrated against BART’s mock-up design for new cars — with no major changes accepted.

BART’s decision-making seems to be based on the philosophy that those who respond are the only ones whose views and needs matter.

BART has frequently responded positively to the well-organized bicycle constituency, while ignoring calls for some prudent limits and actual enforcement policies, priorities, and practices. Instead, BART has shown a “laissez faire” approach to bicyclists blocking doors and crowding on trains.

BART heavily bases its customer response surveys on web-based processes, ignoring that that communications mode isn’t as easily available to and used by those who are poor, or have a disability, or who don’t easily communicate in written English.

BART’s recent decision-making behavior allows the legally-protected class of people with disabilities to wonder whether basic constitutional principles that the majority must not trample on the rights of a minority are simply ignored.





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Filed under: Bay Area / California

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