Since 1978, Metro has purchased buses with wheelchair lifts. Metro pioneered the use of Lift-U lifts on public transportation buses. The lift has a solid platform and handrails and is designed for wheelchair and scooter users and others who use a walker or cane or simply have trouble climbing steps. In 1999, King County Metro celebrated a long-awaited milestone -- a fully lift-equipped bus fleet.
After 25 years of setting the standard for providing accessible service with lifts, Metro has now added air-conditioned, low floor diesel buses and hybrid diesel-electric buses to our fleet. These buses do not have any steps at the doors (there is one step halfway down the center aisle near the rear door.) Rather than using a lift, these buses 'kneel' to lower the bus about 4 inches, making it easier to step into the bus. If you use a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility aid, or can't step up, the driver can deploy a ramp for you.
Wheelchairs and Scooters
The design and variety of mobility aids used by persons with disabilities has evolved greatly since Metro first started putting lifts on buses 25 years ago. Powered mobility aids have become much more commonplace and often include options that can tilt and elevate the seat. These features increase the mobility aid's size and weight, which can make boarding a bus more difficult, as the interior space in a bus is limited by the width of traffic lanes and by the clear space between the wheels.
In adopting regulations to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the U.S. Department of Transportation included the following definition to address this issue:
Wheelchair means a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or four-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered. A "common wheelchair" is such a device which does not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length measured two inches above the ground, and does not weigh more than 600 pounds when occupied.
This definition is important because the federal regulations for lifts, ramps and securement areas on accessible buses are based on this 'common wheelchair' standard. IF you use a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility aid that exceeds any of the above dimensions, you may not be able to use some public transportation vehicles.
The Segway [external link] is now approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation as an assistive mobility device and is allowed on Metro buses in accordance with the following:
- The Segway is not to be ridden while boarding or exiting a bus.
- While it is intended that customers are responsible for the actual securement of Segways on a coach, bus drivers are still required to visually check and verify that the securement has been done correctly and/or provide assistance if requested.
- The wheels of the Segway should be in the tie-down area against the coach wall, centered between the rear securement and the front securement.
- The rear securement, against the coach wall, is attached to the base of the Segway tiller.
- The forward securement, next to the wheel well, attaches to the base of the tiller.
- Both belts should be tightened.
If you use a Segway to assist with mobility limitations due to a disability and have any questions about this policy, please contact Metro's Customer Service Office at 206-553-3000 or dial 711 the Washington State relay.
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Using the Lift or Ramp
Riding the bus is easy. If you need to use the lift or ramp, here are a few tips:
- make eye contact with the driver and indicate that you need the lift or ramp.
- if using the lift, you can get on facing either direction, although you may want to get on backwards so you don't have to turn around to get into the tie-down area. If possible, set your brakes or turn off the power while the lift is moving, for added safety.
- if using the ramp, you can ask the driver to help if you use a manual wheelchair and the ramp is too steep.
- back into the tie-down area. The driver will secure the straps and the seat belt if requested.
- if you use a wheelchair, press the yellow pushbutton strip on the underside of the flip-up seats in the securement area on newer buses about a block before the stop where you want off. The bell will ring twice and an indicator will light on the dashboard to let the driver know the lift will need to be deployed.
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When using the lift or ramp, you will need to get on and off the bus at an accessible bus stop. The bus stop sign will be marked with one of three stickers:
the international access symbol, which means anyone can use the lift or ramp there;
the international access symbol with cross-hatching to the right and the words, 'Limited Lift Use Space', which means the bus stop is accessible but with limited space; and
a "No Lift" decal, which means the lift or ramp cannot be used at that stop.
Most Metro bus stops are accessible for lift and ramp use; however, please call Metro's Customer Information Office - 206-553-3000, 711 the Washington State relay, or 1-800-542-7876 toll free, to make sure the lift or ramp can be used at the bus stops where you will get on and off the bus. If your route uses low-floor buses with ramps, using a stop that has a curb at least six inches high will make boarding easier.
If you use Metro's online Trip Planner, be sure to check the "Yes" box to the question, "Do you require an accessible trip." The resulting trip plan will include information on the accessibility of bus stops for your trip.
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