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Accessibility Update

Amtrak Accessibility Update: October 2016

By November 15, 2016 No Comments

ADA Stations Program Progress

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 491 of the 516 stations Amtrak serves in the United States are required to be made accessible. Amtrak recently decided to reclassify all 25 of its flag stops as regular station stops (to the greatest extent possible) and thereby make them subject to ADA requirements. Amtrak will determine ADA responsibility for the various flag stop station components (structure, platform and parking) following completion of property surveys that are now in progress.

Determining ADA responsibility involves analyzing ownership of three distinct components: station structure, platform and parking. As of the date hereof, Amtrak has:

  • Sole ADA Responsibility for 137 stations
  • Shared ADA Responsibility for 240 stations
  • No ADA Responsibility for 126 stations

As noted above, Amtrak has either sole or shared ADA responsibility at 377 stations; these stations constitute the Amtrak ADA Stations Program (ADASP).

Stations Work Completed to Date

  • Land Survey: 357
  • ADA Assessment: 296
  • Design: 92
  • Construction Awarded: 75
  • Construction Complete: 39*

*Not all scopes of work included platform work. Some stations may require additional work at a later date to bring platforms into compliance with the ADA.

Amtrak also identified 80 stations in its national system for which it had ADA responsibility for Passenger Information Display Systems (PIDS) with known or potential deficiencies. A number of these stations have an audible public address (PA) system but do not have a messaging component that communicates that same information visually. In addition, there are stations with legacy PIDS that have both PA and electronic signage but that are not ADA compliant because there is no visual message functionality that would enable synchronized dual-mode announcements.

Passenger Information Display Systems Work Completed to Date

  • Design Task Order: 33
  • Design Completed: 22
  • Deployment Task Order: 23
  • Deployment Go Live: 16

Project Spotlight: Camden, S.C.

Customers boarding or detraining the Silver Star (New York-Tampa-Miami) at Camden will find numerous accessible features now in place. Crews have installed new accessible parking spaces and walkways connecting the parking area, depot and platform. City identifier signs lining the platform clearly show the station name and also incorporate the most current Amtrak branding.

Ramps lead to both entrances, where doors were modified to operate as power doors – with one touch of a button, they automatically open. A new detectable rail on the floor around the ticket desk alerts blind and low vision customers to the desk’s protruding edge. Crews also made the restrooms accessible, installed a new drinking fountain and hung interior signage.

Accessibility improvements at Camden, S.C.

New ramps lead to the main entrances, which now feature power doors.

Camden is the seat of Kershaw County and the oldest existing inland town in South Carolina. The depot was built by the Seaboard Air Line in 1937 to accommodate growing ridership. Designed in the then-fashionable Colonial Revival style, it features red brick construction, quoins at the corners, keystones over the windows and doorways, and a gabled roof. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 due to its design integrity and importance to the community’s development as a popular winter resort.

In fiscal year 2016, nearly 3,500 customers began or ended their journey at the Camden station, which is served twice a day by the Silver Star.

New PIDS Unveiled at New York Penn Station 

Amtrak made a major upgrade to the nation’s busiest transit hub with the launch of a new, state-of-the-art Passenger Information Display System (PIDS) at New York Penn Station. The new PIDS communicates train status, origin and destination stations, boarding gate and other information and features bright LCD displays that are easy to read and synchronize audio and visual messaging.

PIDS screens at New York Penn Station

Strategic placement of the new PIDS displays provides customers access to the same information in various locations.

“Amtrak is committed to providing timely and accurate customer communications across all channels – in stations, on board trains, via our mobile apps and our various web-based platforms,” said Lenetta McCampbell, Amtrak senior director, passenger experience.

Strategic placement of the new displays, along with modification and eventual removal of some existing monitors – including the large train status board in the center of the concourse – provides customers access to the same information in various locations, thereby easing congestion and improving pedestrian circulation. The displays are also capable of broadcasting emergency communications and other customized messages. An additional 38 monitor sets have been or will be installed above the boarding gates on the main concourse, in ClubAcela, the Rotunda and Amtrak waiting areas.

Some 650,000 commuter and intercity passengers pass through New York Penn Station each day – twice as many people as all three New York metro area airports combined. More than 10.4 million Amtrak passengers began or ended their journey at the station in fiscal year 2015.

Data Crunch: Assessing the Prototype Retractable Setback-Shuttle Platform

Disassembling the Ann Arbor setback shuttle platform

In July 2016, Amtrak disassembled and inspected the setback-shuttle platform following 10 months of operation.

In July 2015, Amtrak unveiled a prototype retractable setback-shuttle platform at the Ann Arbor, Mich., station. It mechanically extends toward the train to bridge the gap created when a level-boarding platform is needed. By eliminating the need to climb stairs or make a large step between the train vestibule and platform, the setback-shuttle platform provides safer and faster boarding on and off trains for all customers. Major program goals for the design of the setback-shuttle platform included safety, cost and durability (30-year life).

The program team returned to Ann Arbor in July 2016 to disassemble and inspect the setback-shuttle platform following 10 months of operation under varying load factors and weather conditions. It also began to process data related to how customers used both the setback-shuttle and adjacent low level platforms over a nine-month period.

During the study period, the setback-shuttle platform was used by more than 76,000 customers – an amount equal to approximately half of station ridership in fiscal year 2015. Boarding times at the station, which impact a train’s on-time performance, fell significantly over the prior year. Of note, the average setback-shuttle platform boarding times steadily declined over the study period for instances when passengers requiring assistance or using a wheeled mobility device were present.

Performance metrics for the prototype setback-shuttle platform (Oct. 18, 2015 – July 10, 2016):

  • Times used: 1,424
  • Number of customers served: 76,048
  • Average board/alight time per train: 2 minutes, 15 seconds
  • Average customers per second: 0.35

The Ann Arbor setback-shuttle platform will undergo another year of testing before Amtrak makes a final evaluation of its effectiveness.

Amtrak Meets with Disability Community

On Sept. 26, Amtrak representatives from the ADASP, Government Affairs and Engineering departments and the Amtrak Board of Directors met with representatives of the disability community in Washington, D.C., for their quarterly meeting. Easter Seals generously accommodated the group at its downtown headquarters.

ADASP Program Manager Gary Talbot and Project Manager II Kyle Giannaula provided an overview of the status of work scheduled for fiscal years (FY) 2014-2016 and projects included in the FY 2017 ADA Stations Plan, which is now under review by the Federal Railroad Administration. Talbot also spoke to data gathered about the prototype retractable setback-shuttle platform in Ann Arbor, Mich. James Hengst, director of passenger experience – PIDS, updated the group on PIDS projects across the national system.

Proposed rendering of First Class interior on new Amtrak high-speed trainsets

Rendering showing potential First Class interior on the new Amtrak high-speed trainsets on order from Alstom. Image: © Alstom SA, 2016 © Meconopsis by Trimaran. All rights reserved. Avelia Liberty high-speed train.

Strategic fleet rail initiatives were outlined by Principal Industrial Designer Blair Slaughter, while Monica London, director of passenger experience – OBIS, described development of the new audio and visual On-Board Information Display System (OBIS) to be deployed on cars in California.

Participants also learned about Amtrak’s recent contract for 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets that will replace the equipment used to provide Acela Express service. The contract is part of $2.45 billion that will be invested on the Northeast Corridor as part of a multifaceted modernization program to renew and expand Acela Express service. The new trainsets are expected to begin entering service in 2021. Mark Yachmetz, SVP strategic rail initiatives, provided an overview of proposed interiors and accessible features.

Questions? Story Ideas?

We’re interested in hearing your feedback. Please contact us at GreatAmericanStations@Amtrak.com