You would be hard pressed to find a Twin Cities intersection that doesn’t have ADA-mandated curb cuts. In contrast, almost half of the metro area bus stops are not accessible. Furthermore, there is no count of how many actually meet ADA requirements. This is a major hole in the accessibility network. It also has a negative impact on able-bodied transit riders, because waiting at a non-accessible bus stop means standing in dirt, mud, grass and sometimes on a hill or berm.
There is the legal ADA definition of an accessible bus stop, and then there is the not-legal-but-workable definition. To be ADA legal, a bus stop must have a hard-surfaced area 5 feet wide by 8 feet deep, connected to a sidewalk, and the sidewalk must be connected to an intersection curb cut. Here are stops that meet the letter of the law.
Because of limited right of way width, many bus stops don’t have the legal 8-foot depth and probably will never have it. That’s true all over Minneapolis, St. Paul and some suburbs like Richfield. Despite falling short of the legal definition of ADA, these stops are still workable, with a hard surface at least 5 feet deep. The driver can deploy the wheelchair ramp without any trouble, and the hard surface makes waiting more attractive for the able-bodied. Here are some examples with 5 foot sidewalks.
Metro Transit has a database and photo record of all the stops it serves. The database only distinguishes between those with 5-foot pavement behind the curb and those without. It doesn’t break out the stops that meet ADA requirements from the not-legal-but-workable stops.
According to the database, Metro Transit serves 11,389 bus stops. 6477 of them (56.9%) are at least workable-accessible. 4912 (43.1%) are not. Minneapolis and St. Paul do much better than the metro average. Minneapolis has 19.9% bad stops and St. Paul has 22.2%.
The suburbs have a poorer compliance history than the center cities. Metro Transit has 7065 suburban bus stops and over half (56.8%) are non-accessible. That doesn’t count the 3660 bus stops served only by suburban bus operators. We don’t have accessibility stats for them, but if the same percentage is assumed, that’s another 1482 non-accessible stops for a metro total of 6394.
6400 non-accessible stops is unacceptable considering ADA has been law for over 25 years. Having been involved first hand is making stops accessible, I know that Metro Transit has an ongoing program to improve scores of them each year. MnDOT, counties and cities also tend to make improvements in conjunction with roadway projects, although sometimes that is overlooked.
I believe that stops aren’t being made accessible because:
a. Cities and counties don’t realize it’s a federal requirement, and
B. There is no unit of government responsible for cracking the whip to make it happen.
The table below summarizes Metro Transit stop accessibility by city.
|City||Stop not 5-foot paved||Stop 5-foot paved total||% Not 5-foot paved|
|Inver Grove Heights||125||45||73.5%|
|North St. Paul||31||31||50.0%|
|Oak Park Heights||3||4||42.9%|
|St. Louis Park||154||233||39.8%|
|St. Paul Park||41||7||85.4%|
|South St. Paul||61||78||43.9%|
|Spring Lake Park||29||11||72.5%|
|West St. Paul||92||76||54.8%|
|White Bear Lake||57||50||53.3%|
|White Bear Township||7||1||87.5%|
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