Riders Gain Greater Access to Capital Metro Buses

AUSTIN, Texas (March 31, 2017) - Capital Metro is steadily advancing on a major milestone: By the end of 2017, 99 percent of the 2,649 bus stops in the agency's 535-square mile service area will be accessible to people with disabilities. In 1992, Capital Metro was the first transit agency in Texas, and one of the first in the nation, to reach 100 percent accessibility on its buses.

“We are making great strides to ensure that all people have access to transit in our service area,” said Linda Watson, Capital Metro's president/CEO. “And we've already had some great feedback from our riders who appreciate the amenities and safer access to Capital Metro's services.”

Physical barriers obstructing access to bus stops can be a challenge for transit riders - especially people with disabilities. Nonexistent or damaged sidewalks, or missing links between sidewalks and bus stops are the most common obstacles. Older concrete bus stop pads are sometimes too small to ensure adequate space for loading and unloading people in wheelchairs. Paved ramps that allow access to a sidewalk from the street can be another barrier.

On rare occasions, topography (the physical landscape), site availability and right-of-way constraints can make improving bus stops more challenging, or even impossible. Fortunately, less than 1 percent of the agency's bus stops are unable to be improved for greater accessibility. In these cases, Capital Metro strives to make each bus stop as accessible as it can be.

To make it easier for people in wheelchairs to board and de-board buses, accessible bus stops feature, at a minimum, a 5 ft. x 8 ft. bus pad. Amenities are also considered when planning bus stop improvements, and are determined by the agency's service guidelines. For example, stops that see 15 or more boardings daily are eligible for benches. Stops that are used by 50 or more passengers a day, or are close to social service agencies like medical facilities and schools, are also eligible for shelters.

Working with the city of Austin, Capital Metro's Access Advisory Committee and disability rights organization ADAPT, the agency developed a work plan in 2012 that identified 996 stops where accessibility could be improved or new, accessible stops could be built. By 2016, Capital Metro increased the total number of accessible bus stops from 66 percent to 97 percent. These stops now comply, or exceed compliance, with ADA standards. Capital Metro has fewer than 70 stops to renovate, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

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Amy Peck, 512-369-7778, amy.peck@capmetro.org