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Metro improving ADA announcements to better serve riders with disabilities

Summary

Riders are now hearing more comprehensive on-board bus stop announcements on 20 King County Metro Transit bus routes, with more planned in coming months as the agency ensures that interior and exterior ADA announcements are consistently made to better serve riders with disabilities.

Story

Riders are now hearing more comprehensive on-board bus stop announcements on 20 King County Metro Transit bus routes, with more planned in coming months as the agency ensures that interior and exterior ADA announcements are consistently made to better serve riders with disabilities.

The improved on-board stop, route and destination announcements benefit all riders and will meet or exceed Federal Transit Administration requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. An on-site FTA audit in 2014 found that a significant number of stops and routes were not being announced, but should have been to meet the minimum requirements.

“We fell short in specific areas and we are addressing them systematically to make sure we comply with federal regulations. We decided to take it a step further by responding to requests from the blind community to announce all stops. By doing this, we are facilitating even more independence for riders with disabilities,” said Kevin Desmond, Metro Transit general manager.

On Nov. 7, Metro completed a first round of increasing interior audio announcements to 100 percent on 20 routes: Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 15, 21, 40, 48, 50, 71, 101, 166, 215, 221, 242, 271 & the RapidRide D Line. About every four weeks for the next several months, audio announcements of all stops will be added to additional routes until all routes are addressed.

“We applaud the implementation of audible stop announcements of all stops,” said Marci Carpenter, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Washington. “These announcements give blind/low vision riders access to the same information provided to sighted riders through the visual display in the bus and allow us to be as flexible in our travel as anyone else would be.”

Metro’s revised announcement policy applies to all fixed routes. In most cases, announcements will be made by the on-board system. Metro operates 238 routes, 211 of which use equipment that speaks and displays automated stop announcements to customers. Bus drivers will announce all stops if the automated system is not functioning, or on buses without an automated system.

Improved and consistent exterior route and destination announcements also are planned at all bus stops that are served by two or more bus routes starting in February 2016. An advisory panel representing a cross section of riders – including riders who are blind or who have visual or cognitive challenges – is reviewing Metro’s interior and exterior route and destination announcements to help Metro develop new volume standards.