Thanks to the ADA: celebrating 33 years of empowerment and inclusion

A Metro bus operator during a training exercise on securing mobility devices on buses.

On July 26th, 1990, President George H. Bush signed  groundbreaking legislation forever changing the lives of millions in the United States living with a disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established comprehensive Civil Rights protections for people with disabilities. A new era was born with federal law now requiring access to jobs, communications and information and, of course, public transportation.   

It was also 30 years ago that Metro was born — a result of a merger between the RTD and LACTC. In the wake of the ADA, Metro was straight away tasked with ensuring compliance with the ADA and State of California accessibility laws. Of course, it was more than just compliance — as we celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the ADA we should take pause and consider how important the law is toward creating a more equitable society with access to opportunity for all.

Early on LA Metro recognized these laws represented the floor and not the ceiling of accessibility.  Codes and regulations provided the first foray into accessibility — but we tried to recognize that what’s most important is the spirit of these laws: usability. The state of California has been a clear leader in disability access since before the passage of ADA and Metro is committed to “going above and beyond” to provide leadership in public transportation accesses.

What does that mean in practice? In short, that the design of facilities, vehicles, environments, products, services and devices must be accessible and usable by people with disabilities. We absolutely remain committed to making all Metro facilities, vehicles, facilities, programs, and services accessible – beyond the minimums required.

Metro was one of the first large transit entities to provide 100 percent accessible buses as well as automated route and stop announcements. Other significant recent improvements include:

  • Updates to the design criteria for our rail, bus rapid transit and bus facilities design criteria: Metro is committed to being a national leader in design for accessibility.
  • Reconfiguration of accessibility areas on transit vehicles for both bus and rail
  • Additional space for mobility devices on rail vehicles, in addition to dedicated space for bikes, strollers and a variety of personal transport modes.
  • Hands free access to fare gates and intercoms.
  • Improved lighting design criteria, which is especially important for people with low vision (and, in fact, benefits all riders).

Ongoing innovations/initiatives include:

  • Providing hands free access at station crossings, elevators and customer information and assistance intercoms.
  • ADA tactile guidance pathways – originally designed for blind/visually impaired (B/VI) customers and other customers who benefit from enhanced guidance.
  • Demonstration testing of Audio/Map guidance mobile applications – also originally designed for B/VI, but usable by all customers. We plan to eventually available in multiple languages.

More information here about our accessibility programs.

3 replies

  1. Let other passengers board the bus first, then let the wheelchair passenger board last. This will make the whole bus boarding process a lot more efficient because the other passengers are already out of the path of the wheelchair passenger at that point.

    But it would be politically incorrect, so the status quo will continue.

  2. ADA is a good law that has helped disabled Angelenos like me get along in this world. So why on earth does Metro’s “Esplanade Project” eliminate ALL disabled parking from in front of Union Station in order to install a water fountain that was never in the original station plans? It might cool the tourists riding Frank McCourt’s proposed “gondola” tourist attraction or the merchants of the circa 1930 “Olvera Street” and “Chinatown” tourist attractions, but NOT the disabled whose “walk” to Union Station’s Traxx Restaurant, the “Harvey House” brew pub and the Ticketing Hall event venue will be doubled in length from where Metro wants to shove the disabled parking. I guess it has always been that way money rides, the rest must walk—if they can! Shame on Metro!