CTA Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act; Continues Efforts to Improve Access to Public Transportation

July 17, 2015

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) joins with the City of Chicago and transit agencies across the country to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – a landmark civil rights law enacted in July 1990 to provide equal access to public transportation, employment, public accommodations and telecommunications for people with disabilities.

As the nation’s second-largest transit agency, the CTA has made and continues to make great strides in converting a more than 100-year-old infrastructure into one that is modern and meets the needs of individuals of all abilities.

Since 2011, under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel, CTA has:

  • added accessibility to five CTA rail stations, with seven more stations slated for upgrades;
  • Opened three new, fully accessible rail stations
  • Added more than 700 latest-generation rail cars with new and expanded accessibility features;
  • Added LED displays and audio assistance to rail cars, stations and bus shelters

 

“The CTA is a viable option for hundreds of thousands more people living and visiting the City of Chicago, thanks to the mayor’s continuing focus on improving accessibility,” said CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. “The CTA remains fully committed to its ongoing effort to provide modern and accessible services to all customers – as evidenced by the numerous projects already underway and those CTA continues to pursue funding for such as the Red & Purple Modernization and the Red Line Extension projects. Projects such as these will greatly expand the benefits of affordable, reliable and accessible transportation to millions of customers for generations to come, and I’m committed to updating our strategic plan to reach our goal of 100 percent accessibility to our system

Over the past quarter-century, CTA has made a number of significant achievements that have helped to make its bus and rail service more accessible:

  • Buses: Since 2004, all CTA buses have been accessible to riders and feature ramps, priority seating areas that include wheelchair securement devices, Braille signage, automated voice announcements – interior and exterior -- for all stops and also LED signage.
  • Trains: All rail cars in the fleet are wheelchair accessible and feature designated priority seating and wheelchair securement areas, Braille signage and automated announcements. More than 700 of the new 5000-series rail cars are in use along the Red, Green Pink, Purple and Yellow lines, which feature two wheelchair positions per car, visual indicators and destination signs and improved LED displays that complement recorded announcements to assist individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired.
  • Rail Stations: Nearly 70 percent (100 of 145) stations are currently accessible via elevators or ramps. Work is currently either planned or underway at seven stations to enhance or make the facilities compliant with ADA guidelines. Rail station accessibility features include either elevators or ramps; entry gates; tactile edging along the platform to assist in navigation; Braille signage, audio announcements and gap fillers to bridge the space between the platform and rail cars.
  • Service Information: Currently, 350 bus shelters are equipped with Bus Tracker displays that feature an audio component, which emits a low-tone beep so it can be easily located. This feature provides customers who are blind or visually impaired with audible estimated bus arrival information. In addition, CTA’s web site, transitchicago.com, meets modern web standards, as well as federal and state guidelines for accessibility; and
  • Travel Information: Instructional materials are available that familiarize riders with accessible features of the system and how to contact CTA personnel for assistance when riding or what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Employee Training: Every two years operations personnel are recertified on employing proper procedures when assisting customers with disabilities. Additionally, the CTA employs a Manager of ADA Compliance Programs, a position that interacts within all levels of the organization to ensure compliance within the law, as well as to promote best practices in terms of accommodating customers and staff who have disabilities.
  • Elevators:  status information is available online, via e-mail, phone or TTY, and on the Elevator Status Boards located in all rail stations.
  • ADA Advisory Committee: Established by the Chicago Transit Board, this committee serves in an advisory capacity to the CTA and has up to 12 members appointed to two-year terms. This committee is responsible for providing recommendations on the CTA’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), facilitating a dialogue between the CTA and the disability community, and increasing the use of the CTA’s services by people with disabilities. ADA Advisory Committee meetings are held quarterly at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street.

 

Several other projects are currently under way or are in planning that will further improve travel on the CTA’s rail system for people with disabilities when completed. These projects include the reconstruction of the Wilson and 95th stations on the Red Line; renovation of the Quincy Loop Elevated station and the rehabbing of the Illinois Medical District, UIC-Halsted and Addison stations on the Blue Line. Construction of the new, modern and fully accessible Washington-Wabash Loop Elevated station is already underway and expected to be complete in 2017; and procurement of the next generation of rail cars – the new 7000-series, which will be designed to meet and exceed current ADA guidelines.    

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