Trasporti Accessibili
 
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Evaluations

URBAN, INTERURBAN AND EXTRAURBAN TRANSPORT

 

Factors contributing to make a bus line accessible to people with disabilities can be summarized as follows:

  1. PRESENCE OF EQUIPPED VEHICLES FOR THE TRANSPORT OF DISABLED PASSENGERS;
  2. BUS STOP ACCESSIBILITY;
  3. RELIABLE INFORMATION CONCERNING THE ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE TIME OF EQUIPPED VEHICLES.
  4. STAFF TRAINING FOCUSING ON HOW TO USE DEVICES FOR DISABLED PEOPLE

Now, let’s analyze in detail the points of strength and weakness of these factors:

EQUIPPED VEHICLES FOR THE TRANSPORT OF DISABLED PASSENGERS

In order to be fully accessible to people with disabilities, vehicles should have the following minimum characteristics:

  1. step-free entrance (low floor bus)
  2. Extractable platform to fill the gap between the entrance and the platform
  3. specially allocated wheelchair spaces
  4. Acoustic and visual signals to announce stops
  5. Clear bus number, name or destination displayed on all sides of the vehicle.

Points of weakness

  • The percentage of equipped vehicles on the total amount is still very low. 99% of the companies interviewed has equipped vehicles for disabled people but, on the average, equipped vehicles represent about 30% on the total amount of vehicles.
  • In most cases, equipment for disabled passengers mainly concern: an electric platform allowing a wheelchair to get on and off, low-floor buses and a specially allocated wheelchair space inside the vehicle. Most of the times, on the contrary, there are no sound and/or visual devices for sensory disabled.
  • Several devices that are on buses for disabled people often break down (this is particularly true for extractable platforms). However, once a year, together with the annual overhaul, also these devices are serviced. Some operators prefer to make more frequent checks.
  • Sometimes the driving staff can’t make devices for disabled people work.  This underlines the need for operators to improve this aspect in the training process.

 

Points of strength

  • By law, when a company buys a vehicle, it must be equipped for the transport of disabled people. This means that in the medium-long term, the percentage of equipped vehicles on the total amount of vehicles owned by each company is going to raise consistently.
  • ATM Milano has started a service called “Radiobus”, working from 8.00 p.m. to 2.00 a.m. This service is available to anybody who needs to displace in town and it is made by equipped mini-bus that can accommodate two wheelchairs.
BUS STOP ACCESSIBILITY

In order to grant good accessibility of public transport lines, it is not enough to have equipped vehicles but it is essential that bus stops have, considering the needs of users, the following characteristics:

  • Step-free platforms or platforms with ramps
  • When the platform is a “traffic-island”, it is necessary that it is wide enough for a wheelchair to get on it
  • Platform height should correspond to the height of vehicles
  • No fixed barriers on the floor or other kind of obstacles preventing wheelchair movements
  • Presence of tactile paths in order to reach stops
  • Presence of seats or bearing surfaces
  • Presence of platform roofing
  • Presence of reliable, clear and readable information concerning next stops and departure and arrival timetable
  • Presence of acoustic and visual signals concerning arriving vehicles.
Points of weakness
  • Most of the interviewed operators were not able to provide information on bus stop accessibility. They said that the City Council or the Province, depending on whether urban or suburban lines were concerned, were competent on the subject.
  • Because of this lack of official information, it is clear that most bus stops are not accessible according to the above mentioned characteristics, that is as far as the absence of architectural barriers and the presence of suitable direction and information signs are concerned.
  • Apart from architectural barriers, often the driver can’t take the bus close to the sidewalk or platform because there is a car parked or because he forgets it. If the platform doesn’t  reach the sidewalk, it is too steep and the operation of getting a disable person on or off might result very difficult or impossible.

 

Points of strength
  • Some operators have undertaken to communicate to the public body concerned (City Council or Province) the need to eliminate architectural barriers at bus stops.

 

INFORMATION CONCERNING ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE TIME OF EQUIPPED VEHICLES

Points of weakness

  • Equipped vehicles correspond to a small percentage of the total amount of vehicles and operators do not have an official timetable where equipped vehicle trips are clearly pointed out. This lack of information represents one of the biggest obstacles to the use of public transport by disabled people.

Points of strength

  • Because of the lack of an official timetable of the arrival/departure time of equipped vehicles, some operators try to get round this lack of information by suggesting one of the following measures:
    • by calling the operator 48 hours in advance, a disabled passenger can ask for an equipped vehicle to be on a certain line at a certain time,
    • by calling the operator in the morning, a disable passenger can receive information on the presence of equipped vehicles during that day.

Operators do not adequately spread these measures, consequently many disabled passengers do not know them.

 

STAFF TRAINING FOCUSING ON THE USE OF DEVICES FOR DISABLED PEOPLE

Points of weakness

  • The use of equipped vehicles for transporting disabled passengers implies specific service procedures and technical devices. Experience shows that sometimes the staff is not prepared to face these aspects and this can jeopardize the possibility for disabled people to travel.
  • Drivers of equipped vehicles should be trained carefully also to take care of the needs of disabled persons.

When speaking about urban transport, a separated reasoning should be made for Metropolitana Milanese (Milan’s underground), operated by ATM and Passante Ferroviario, whose stations are operated by RFI, part of the Ferrovie dello Stato group.

Metropolitana Milanese
Passante Ferroviario