The Modern Urban Bus: Accessible, Attractive and Efficient? Integrated Accessibility As a Challenge

The Modern Urban Bus: Accessible, Attractive and Efficient? Integrated Accessibility As a Challenge


E de Boer, TU Delft, NL


Accessibility is too little assessed and created with regard to the transport process as a whole, from entering a bus to leaving it. The basics of a systematic interior design for the disabled and for (seating) capacity are presented.


Anti discrimination laws demand equal access of the disabled and for other categories which are difficult to accommodate in public transport. There are now European standards for an accessible urban bus, like a minimum low floor surface. Individual countries are not unlikely to add other or more demanding criteria.
Applying these does not guarantee an optimal accessibility. Measures will have to be combined systematically to avoid conflicts which are contra productive both for the disabled and for the other, able bodied and minded passengers.
In fact the designer will have to do a step back. For each type of disabled the transport process starting by entering the bus en ending with leaving the bus, should be analysed. They may have difficulties in boarding, in reaching a seat, for instance a ?reserved? one, in claiming it, in taking it. One problem may be that the bus departs before the disabled person is seated. The seats as such are likely to be a problem, both for the tall and the short and even more for the extremely fat persons. While being seated the dynamics of the bus trip may be a problem for vulnerable people. The wheelchair user might be protected better than a normal passenger having a head plank and a safety belt! On the way out the disabled passenger may have the same problem as on the way in, especially during rush hour. The conditions may be such that a common disabled person will not be confident to take the bus.
The demands of certain types of passengers should be translated in specific facilities, like an adequate seat and an adequate space around it. The facilities should be arranged to make the most of the available space. One would not like to loose seating capacity, one would like facilities or spaces at least to be multi functional.
Characteristics of both vehicle layout and passenger handling decide where facilities for the disabled are located best. Traditionally one finds reserved seats close to the driver and a wheelchair space far away. Would this be an expression of the relative need for driver interference?

In the paper the passenger processes will be described. This will serve to arrange facilities in a functional way. The considerations and options for interior design based on this will be presented.
The text is based on assessments of bus interiors, on operations to develop manuals for application in the Netherlands and especially on the experience with the development of a manual for the design of an accessible interior, planned to appear early 2008.


Association for European Transport