BART Passengers With Disabilities to Protest New BART Trains

Categories: Angry People, BART

Bulkhead_YELLOW_565px.jpg
via BART
Not everyone is excited about the brand new fleet of BART cars that's supposed to make your commute quieter, more comfortable, and less smelly.

BART riders with disabilities say the new fleet -- expected to roll out in the next two years -- actually offers less access for them. Specifically, the new design has added handhold poles in the middle of the entry ways, giving standing passengers something to hang onto while the train is moving.

But that pole is blocking the ability for wheelchair users and other riders with disabilities to access handicap seating, says Jessie Lorenz, executive director of Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco, which serves 5,000 people in San Francisco.

The issue has motivated passengers with disabilities and activists to protest the grand opening of the new BART fleet tomorrow afternoon.

"Our message is simple: they need to remove the damn poles," Lorenz tells SF Weekly.

See Also: Here's a Chance for Riders With Disabilities to Experience the New BART Cars

Lorenz, who is blind, says she got a call from one of BART's managers today who asked her to cancel the protest. But Lorenz says her community isn't backing down from their request. "They're trying to give us this song and dance that they're getting so much flak from the bike community because they don't accommodate bikes to which I say: this is a Civil Rights issue," Lorenz says.

"[The BART manager] straight up said 'yes this is going to cause more problems for people who board trains with mobility problems and strollers, but how much sacrifice for the few do we make for the ability of many to stand -- and stand safely?'"

BART Spokeswoman Alicia Trost says that BART has tweaked its pole design after hearing various complaints from passengers. While they have no plans to ditch the handhold poles, the transit agency has moved it several inches away from the wheelchair area, increasing the width of the path to 49 inches.

In addition, BART has also raised the point where the three tripod branches meet the pole by 3 to 4 inches to eliminate "pinch points" for wheelchair users.

"We also plan to actively remind customers to step aside to make room for wheelchair users to more easily enter and exit the train, especially when conditions are crowded," BART states on its website.

But that's not really going to solve the accessibility issue for wheelchair users and passengers using scooters, Lorenz says. She points to Washington, D.C. which is currently being sued for the very same thing. Tomorrow at 11 a.m., Lorenz and fellow activists plan to attend BART's grand opening of its new fleet at the Justin Herman Plaza. But they won't be there to celebrate.

"We know we have less political pull than the Bike Coalition, and it's playing out," Lorenz says. "Our folks have had a hard time accessing BART since they allowed bikes on trains at all times so this has culminated and everyone is ready to take it to the streets."






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35 comments
marcos
marcos

Civil rights is about equitable access to transportation for everyone.  I'm sure that there is a solution that maximizes access for bikes and the disabled while minimizing conflicts.


For the record on the relative power of bike to disabled lobbies, bikes were on the cusp of being permitted on the Muni Metro right when the injunction came down in 2006 but that plan was scuttled due to resistance from disabled advocates.

TomBraso
TomBraso

Equal access should be provided for all riders, but safety concerns do come first. This new fleet doesn't seem that limiting in movement and they do seem safer.  Disability rights is one thing but sometimes activists just seem unreasonable.

rob035
rob035

BART was promoted as a system with "a seat for every rider"  These new cars continue its devolvement into sardine cans.

rob035
rob035

The public will "keep the DNA" in the cars, for sure.

aliasetc
aliasetc topcommenter

Will the new trains have bedbugs, or just cockroaches?

Paul Nelson
Paul Nelson

disability? lol. everyone has a "disability" nowadays

Steven Stello
Steven Stello

Just get us the new trains. Why does everything have to devolve into a people power campaign?

Peter Brinkemper
Peter Brinkemper

Like and Cologne, Germany - you cant hold everywhere by hands and so on - regardless of being enabled or disabled, you enter a pure soulless computer design of mindless constructors

Jessica Fitzpatrick
Jessica Fitzpatrick

Here's a thought, maybe Bart should make at least 2 cars available only to the disabled, one at the front and one at the back? I'm really unsure why people need a pole in the middle, those rope hand things work pretty well for tall people and the side rails next to the doors have worked for me. Seeing how it could be an issue for a blind person running smack into the pole, I don't blame her for speaking up. My conclusion, I can do without the pole. I've done without it for a good 9 years as a regular bart passenger.

Shelly Fernández
Shelly Fernández

Really now. How many of you in here have to remain in the same chair day in and out? Some of these disabled people like to get out of their chairs into something else. I've never understood why not just ask the disabled community themselves what would work for them instead of thinking we know what a day in their lives feels like.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

They haven't even been in the damn things yet and they're already certain that they won't work. Of course.

Derek Rollinson
Derek Rollinson

It would not be the bay area if some group felt that they were not being catered to ....SMH

guest
guest

@TomBraso  You're right.  Especially because folks are crying wolf when the designers have listened and made adjustments.  Clearances here are way more spacious than many other areas, and especially on buses.  BART needs to balance the needs of everyone, and these "advocates" unintentionally are harming the elderly, the young, and other disabled!!  

guest
guest

@rob035  that was a different time.  Now with a METRO model, BART is no longer a suburban commuter train but needs to move a LOT more people.  For the vast majority of people, they wouldn't mind standing if they can just GET ON A TRAIN.  Reconfigured seats give people more space. But come on.. just be respectful of others!

Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

Excuse me?? Try making your way around in a wheel chair or without sight and you might sing a different tune.

Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

Blind folks rely on the center door markers to navigate their way around the BART stations. Sending disabled people to the back of the train smacks of segregation. The poles are problematic for the blind, yes, but disastrous for people using wheelchairs or scooters. They can't even get into the car to park themselves. 

guest
guest

And they did ask.  But there is always someone that comes back after the process and calls foul! The people out there were ridiculous, they didn't try it, they didn't even know what they were talking about. 

Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

They have been part of focus groups that test out the cars before they were open to the public. What do you mean by "of course."? You seem to have an opinion that the disabled are just out looking for something to complain about. Why this negative attitude towards people that have so many more hassles to deal with on a daily basis than you do? 


whitephantom
whitephantom

It's actually not hard to tell when your chair just isn't going to fit. That's simply a matter of math.

Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

Let's plop you in a wheelchair and let you try and get around all day on public transit. This is not catering - it is a civil rights issue and mandated by the ADA. I am so disheartened by people who love to put people with disabilities into one big blob and then try and shame them.

markh16
markh16

That's ridiculous.  Disabled folks have a much tougher time than the rest of us in accessing and using public transit.  To make it even harder for them to do so is just dead wrong.  They are not being catered to.


whitephantom
whitephantom

"some group felt that they were not being catered to" By "catered to," do you mean "able to ride the train at all"? Because just to be clear, that's what they're complaining about here.

pandemicsoul
pandemicsoul

"Some group"? We're not talking about the International Coalition of Kale Eaters here -- these are disabled people who rely on public transportation and whose lives are already difficult enough as it is. Have a little compassion?

Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

@guest @TomBrasoHow exactly are the children and elderly being harmed? You keep anonymously posting this idea without any explanation. Do you somehow think wheelchair users are out there running people down? 


guest
guest

@Dot7Rabbit  YES they CAN!  Try it sometime!  WAIT,. you were one of those people protesting without even looking!!!  There were a number of people IN WHEELCHAIRS who tried it and LIKED IT!!! they realized there was a space, that this was much easier than a bus.. (OMG have you seen what people have to do to get on a bus?  How many people need to move, how many feet get ran over?)  What would help people in wheel chairs is to not have a car that is TOO full to enter!


Again YOU disregard the elderly, the kids, and everyone in between. The design works, it's a compromise!

otrannel
otrannel

Yes, just have BART passengers in wheelchairs carry a tape measure. Great suggestion.

guest
guest

@Dot7Rabbit  Stop spreading misinformation and try it.  You have more problems with packed trains... If there is a wheelchair do ten people get out for you?  Not likely.  This is more than ADA compliant and is used throughout the world.  BTW, your wheelchair theory is putting seniors and other disabled patrons at risk.

Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

@TomBraso @Dot7Rabbit @guest  @TomBraso @Dot7Rabbit @guest  Well here's the thing... The work I do is advocating for equal access for people with disabilities. There can be middle ground, but features that compromise a disabled person's capacity from having the same access to public transit as everyone else, needs to be fixed. I do not seek conflict, only education. 


Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

@TomBraso @Dot7Rabbit @guest  Well here's the thing... The world is changing, that is why the work I do is advocating for equal access for people with disabilities. There can be middle ground, but features that compromise a someone with a disability from having the same access to public transit as everyone else, needs to be fixed. I do not seek conflict, only education. 


TomBraso
TomBraso

@Dot7Rabbit @guest @TomBraso  This seems like a fair compromise on behalf of BART.  At some point both sides have to agree that neither will get exactly what they want, but there is a good "middle" to meet in. Stop looking for a fight for one minute @Dot7Rabbit and realize that this is the way the world works.


Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

@guest @Dot7RabbitNo one is disregarding anyone. Maybe you should write to Jessie Lorenz at the Independent Living Center and tell her she doesn't know what she is talking about. I notice that you are trolling through and knocking my posts, but don't have the dignity to even identify yourself. Some education on the subject of disability might help you. San Francisco ILRC is a great place to learn more about accessibility and helping people with disabilities level the playing field so they are not constantly treated like second class citizens.

Dot7Rabbit
Dot7Rabbit

@guest @Dot7Rabbit I suppose misinformation is why the Independent Living Center (a highly respected agency) is protesting the design of the cars. How exactly does my "wheelchair theory" put others with disabilities at risk? Are you just spouting or do you know anything about this? 

I have been working in the disabled community for over 12 years. I am not just pulling this out of my hat.

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