When you design trains and stations with the disability community in mind, everyone benefits from a system employing universal design.
“I was thrilled to learn about the Texas Bullet Train project and how they have prioritized access for all Texans. Accessible transportation remains one of the most important issues in the disability community. Texas has the 2nd largest population of people with disabilities in the United States. In addition to Texas residents with disabilities, Houston is a major destination city for those in need of quality health care, and there are many North Texans who have to make regular trips to Houston. And, traveling by car or plane is not always an option for those of us with disabilities.”
For many Texans with disabilities, traveling between North Texas and Houston can be a nightmare – either they have to travel by road which can take anywhere from 3.5 to 4.5 hours and be incredibly uncomfortable, or by plane where they are subjected to invasive security searches, skinny aisles, small seats and an inherent amount of unpredictability.
Christy and Lois, from Granbury share their story:
The Texas Bullet Train will give persons with disabilities the freedom to choose a BETTER, SAFER option when traveling between Texas’ two biggest regions. It provides a choice unlike any other mode of transportation. In an op-ed published by the Texas Tribune, Chase Bearden—Director of advocacy, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities commented,
“High-speed trains have huge accessibility advantages over these alternatives (cars and planes). First, they begin with a blank slate — an opportunity to design from the ground up with principles of universal design. That means the whole experience is accessible: booking a ticket, navigating the station, freely and independently embarking and disembarking the train, not being separated from one’s wheelchair or mobility device, freely navigating the train car, and accessing the restrooms without assistance while in transit. That is game-changing.”
No other long-distance bus, train or aviation service in the United States will offer the convenience and accessibility of the Texas Bullet Train. Connecting these regions with this safe, accessible, and reliable transportation option will provide Texans more opportunities as they live, work and play.
The Texas Bullet Train works closely with leaders in the disability community to ensure the entire journey experience is the best it can be for everyone – safe, predictable, and enjoyable. This means from the time you make reservations, through the boarding process at the stations, riding and moving about on the train, and until you arrive at your destination, there will be full ADA-compliant access. These conversations will help to ensure the train service considers everyone’s needs before making final design decisions with respect to accessibility and mobility.
On the Texas Bullet Train, there will be state-of-the-art accommodations for those who are hard of hearing or have vision impairments, as well as those with physical disabilities. Designers are currently incorporating improved lighting and audible signals for train arrivals and departures as well as alerts for door openings and closings, and tactile warning strips at the platform edges. There are also plans for informational displays and scale mock-ups to ensure all passengers can board the trains safely and be aware of all train operations and services. Passengers with limited mobility will also have the option to utilize easily accessible elevators to take them directly to the platform for boarding.
Inside the trains, in addition to conveniently located areas for wheelchairs and attendant seating, passengers in wheelchairs will be able to move throughout the entire train. The aisle width is 34 ¼ inches, more than the required minimum width of 32-inches, and wider than the aisle width on a regional jet. By doing more than meeting the minimum requirements, the Bullet Train is designed to provide a ride that is equally comfortable for passengers using mobility devices. This design will allow for riders who are in wheelchairs the freedom to decide whether they want to remain in their chair or move to an assigned space. This freedom of movement often leads to other choices including whether they want an attendant to join them on the journey. In addition, platforms in the train stations will have a no-step entry to the train floors so that passengers in wheelchairs can board safely and easily, with a smooth and level transition onto the train and along the entire interior aisle of the train. The restrooms will also be ADA accessible, convenient, and allow for contiguous and smooth access from adjoining cars during the less than 90-minute travel time.
The Texas Bullet Train will be welcoming and accommodating to passengers with service animals. Requirements are being reviewed closely to understand what is needed for the best accommodation for both the service animals and the riders of the Bullet Train.
“Members of the visually impaired community face unique challenges when it comes to transportation. This project will ensure equal opportunities for my community by providing a safe, reliable and accessible mode of rapid transportation between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. The railroad will increase mobility options for those with differing abilities to help them lead productive and independent lives.”
On the train, the leg room provided for most seats will allow those with service animals to select a variety of seating, not just in a bulkhead row. Texas Central recognizes the importance of having service animals accompany persons with disabilities, and we will work hard to develop policies that are as accommodating as possible.
The teams doing design work for Texas Central are participating at the local, state and national level to better understand the community’s needs and to develop requirements that will be both efficient and safe. They work collaboratively with the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee, part of the United States Access Board, which helps develop guidelines to advance accessibility in transportation.
We are proud that passengers with disabilities will have unprecedented freedom on the Texas High Speed Train, more so than any other intercity passenger train in North America.
As we work to build out this modern marvel, this will be an ongoing conversation about how best to address disability and accessibility issues facing Texans. Beyond the trains and stations, we are committed to accessible and usable websites, apps and telecommunications. So far, the promise of the Texas Bullet Train has excited Texans who want to ride it from many backgrounds. And we know— with your help—the system will continually to live up to that promise.
If you have a comment, question, suggestion or personal story to share – we want to hear from you! Please send us an email us at firstname.lastname@example.org