Transit Oversight Agency Continues its Commitment to Serving Persons with Disabilities
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) joins nearly 50 million Americans with disabilities in celebrating the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law, signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government service and communications. The RTA administers programs serving people with disabilities.
“The RTA, along with CTA and Metra and Pace, is committed to ensuring that riders with disabilities in our region have safe and convenient access to transit,” said Leanne Redden, Executive Director of the RTA. “We are proud to provide many services for riders with disabilities, as being able to move around our area is important to the quality of life we all enjoy in the RTA region.”
Highlights of the accessibility features of the region’s transit system include:
- The RTA issues Reduced Fare and Ride Free permits to eligible riders throughout the region. The Reduced Fare Permit allows adults age 65 and older, qualified people with disabilities and Medicare recipients to ride all RTA fixed-route and commuter services (regularly scheduled Pace, Metra and CTA buses or trains in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties) at a reduced fare. The RTA also issues Ride Free Permits for all RTA fixed-route and commuter services to any Illinois resident who is enrolled in the Illinois Department of Aging Benefit Access Program.
- Assistance is available at various locations throughout the region to serve the nearly 600,000 riders who qualify for reduced fare or ride free permits. RTA staff is located in four of the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) office locations, the place many customers regularly visit to receive other information and support services. More details can be found at http://rtachicago.com/rider-resources/reduced-fare/reduced-fare-permits or http://rtachicago.com/rider-resources/reduced-fare/ride-free-permits.
- The RTA manages the ADA Certification program, which determines eligibility for the ADA paratransit service operated by Pace throughout the region’s ADA service area. ADA Paratransit service is an advanced reservation, shared ride, origin-to-destination service for persons who are unable to use the CTA or Pace systems for some or all of their trips because of a disability or health condition. The RTA operates two ADA paratransit certification interview and assessment sites in the RTA region and processes about 18,000 ADA paratransit applications and recertifications each year.
- The RTA also oversees the popular individual travel training program, which teaches individuals with disabilities and older adults how to use Pace, Metra and CTA buses and trains. In the Trip Training Program, participants work one-on-one with a travel trainer to practice using buses and trains to travel to frequent destinations. The RTA also offers the Individual Transit Orientation Program in which participants work one-on-one with a travel trainer to receive a general introduction to bus and train accessibility across the entire transit system. Travel Training is free except for the cost of transit fares during training sessions.
- The CTA has a fully accessible fixed route bus fleet and L trains also are accessible. A total of 100 L stations are accessible for people with disabilities.
- Buses kneel and are equipped with ramps for accessible boarding.
- Buses and L trains include audio and visual route identification and stop announcements. The CTA has added audio and visual bus arrival information at more than 330 shelters that are served by multiple routes.
- The CTA L trains provide designated priority seating areas for people with disabilities and older adults, including areas for people using wheelchairs and power scooters. Bridge plates are available when needed to span the gap between the platform and railcar. Rail operators will assist passengers with disabilities when boarding and exiting trains, if needed.
- Metra has more than 220 fully and partially accessible stations, representing its busiest stations that are used by more than 94 percent of its customer base. Customers who use wheelchairs at partially accessible stations can access train platforms from the street.
- All 11 train lines in the Metra system (plus the South Shore Line operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District) are fully accessible to customers with disabilities.
- Cars on the Metra Electric are equipped with roll-on bridge plates that cover the gap between the vestibule and the high-level platforms. The diesel-powered lines have at least one lift-equipped car per train to provide access from low-level platforms.
- Each accessible car has three wheelchair areas for riders who prefer to remain in their chairs. Customers can also transfer to standard seats. Stations outside the downtown area have accessible boarding areas where the lift-equipped train car will stop for boarding.
- Pace has a fully accessible fixed route bus fleet, and was the first transit agency in northeastern Illinois and the second in the state to achieve this status.
- Buses have automated audio and visual route identification and stop announcements.
- Pace’s bus shelter program provides for the ability to install new shelters that are fully accessible as well as retrofitting old shelters for accessibility.
- Pace’s ADA Paratransit service, which includes both the Pace and CTA ADA service areas, is among the largest in the country and covers the largest
The region’s transit system has designated priority seating areas for people with disabilities and older adults, as well as wheelchair securement areas. Bus operators will assist riders with disabilities to board and exit vehicles, and will assist with securing wheelchairs and other mobility devices, if needed.
The RTA is proud to continue to support the people with disability community by serving as a Gold Sponsor at this year’s 13thAnnual Disability Pride Parade on Saturday, July 23 in downtown Chicago. The march kicks off at 401 South Plymouth Court and ends at Daley Plaza. RTA, Pace, CTA and Metra staff will be on hand at Daley Plaza to provide information about the region’s accessible public transportation programs.
Last week, the RTA participated in AccessChicago 2016 at Navy Pier. This premiere event draws more than 100 of Chicagoland’s top disability-related service providers, product merchandisers, assistive technology suppliers and recreational exhibitors together under one roof. CTA and Pace were also on-site with buses, assisting riders with practicing boarding buses and using wheelchair securements, as well as becoming more aware of the accessibility features of the region’s fixed-route system.
The RTA also hosts a RTA Citizens Advisory Board meeting on a quarterly basis. This committee provides input into all of the RTA’s services with an emphasis on those provided to the disability community.
For more information about the various programs the RTA provides, please visit RTAChicago.org.