How Accessible Are Twin Cities Bus Stops?

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.

Defining accessibility

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.

There is street furniture and it’s against a building, but it’s legal.

 

This is the standard Metro Transit retrofit, a pad across the grass boulevard.

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.

It’s up against a retaining wall, but the 5-foot sidewalk is still workable, though not legally accessible.

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%.

A completely non-accessible stop.

 

Even worse, on a berm.

 

Yes there’s a sidewalk, but no pavement to the curb. In the winter there’s probably a snow windrow on the boulevard. Not accessible.

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
Anoka 52 34 60.5%
Arden Hills 18 7 72.0%
Baytown 4 1 80.0%
Birchwood 3 0.0%
Blaine 154 53 74.4%
Bloomington 406 338 54.6%
Brooklyn Center 115 102 53.0%
Brooklyn Park 281 135 67.5%
Champlin 80 29 73.4%
Circle Pines 10 7 58.8%
Columbia Heights 56 66 45.9%
Columbus 1 100.0%
Coon Rapids 216 71 75.3%
Cottage Grove 75 10 88.2%
Crystal 40 123 24.5%
Deephaven 16 7 69.6%
Edina 136 185 42.4%
Excelsior 6 14 30.0%
Falcon Heights 12 35 25.5%
Forest Lake 3 4 42.9%
Fort Snelling 4 8 33.3%
Fridley 84 77 52.2%
Golden Valley 102 135 43.0%
Greenwood 5 3 62.5%
Hilltop 4 0.0%
Hopkins 43 94 31.4%
Independence 3 0.0%
Inver Grove Heights 125 45 73.5%
Lake Elmo 27 8 77.1%
Lakeville 1 0.0%
Landfall 1 0.0%
Lauderdale 3 7 30.0%
Lexington 10 7 58.8%
Lino Lakes 18 2 90.0%
Little Canada 46 39 54.1%
Long Lake 14 5 73.7%
Mahtomedi 28 8 77.8%
Maple Grove 8 2 80.0%
Maple Plain 5 100.0%
Maplewood 177 152 53.8%
Mendota Heights 101 27 78.9%
Minneapolis 508 2050 19.9%
Minnetonka 198 116 63.1%
Minnetonka Beach 4 0 100.0%
Minnetrista 2 2 50.0%
Mound 14 100.0%
Mounds View 57 100.0%
New Brighton 52 100.0%
New Hope 92 100.0%
Newport 25 14 64.1%
North Oaks 10 1 90.9%
North St. Paul 31 31 50.0%
Oak Park Heights 3 4 42.9%
Oakdale 74 28 72.5%
Orono 43 13 76.8%
Plymouth 4 7 36.4%
Richfield 58 208 21.8%
Robbinsdale 20 62 24.4%
Roseville 137 113 54.8%
St. Anthony 41 45 47.7%
St. Louis Park 154 233 39.8%
St. Paul 392 1374 22.2%
St. Paul Park 41 7 85.4%
Shoreview 112 41 73.2%
Shorewood 15 5 75.0%
South St. Paul 61 78 43.9%
Spring Lake Park 29 11 72.5%
Spring Park 10 0.0%
Stillwater 39 20 66.1%
Tonka Bay 15 2 88.2%
Vadnais Heights 12 3 80.0%
Wayzata 13 11 54.2%
West St. Paul 92 76 54.8%
White Bear Lake 57 50 53.3%
White Bear Township 7 1 87.5%
Willernie 2 100.0%
Woodbury 17 9 65.4%
Totals 4912 6477 43.1%

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11 Responses to How Accessible Are Twin Cities Bus Stops?

  1. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell July 2, 2018 at 11:32 am #

    On several it looks like travel lanes could easily be narrowed to create a larger and safer waiting/boarding area?

    Is there any kind of system for people with disabilities to notify Metro Transit that they need to begin using certain stops and how often so that those can be prioritized? I can easily imagine that otherwise they might upgrade 15 stops that are never used or needed by anyone with a disability and not upgrade the 3 that are critical.

  2. Eric Anondson
    Eric Anondson July 2, 2018 at 12:00 pm #

    I’d love to see a running series on specific bad bus stops. Accessibility is maybe a top thing that makes them poor.

    • Angela M July 3, 2018 at 9:50 am #

      I would be interested in this, too – especially if it focused on both ADA-mandated accessibility and practical accessibility, since some stops that technically meet minimum requirements to be usable with a wheelchair can still be pretty inaccessible for a lot of disabled people.

  3. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke July 2, 2018 at 12:20 pm #

    Good post Aaron except for your opening line. I could throw a rock from just about anywhere in Saint Paul and hit a corner with bad curb cuts. Downtown Saint Paul is full of crappy non-ADA curb cuts. My neighborhood is the same. Badly designed curbs and sidewalks is still a huge problem.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller July 2, 2018 at 12:53 pm #

      Minneapolis too, although a lot of them have been and are getting replaced recently. Of course, a lot of the new ones are bad too, leaving wide turning radii and completely removing the curb at the corner, so it can feel like cars are invited to roll right over where people wait to cross the street. But I assume they’re ADA compliant!

    • Aaron Isaacs
      Aaron Isaacs July 2, 2018 at 1:32 pm #

      My point was that curb cuts of some kind are now universal. Bus stops with even limited accessibilty are not.

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke July 2, 2018 at 1:34 pm #

        Fair enough. The list of bad curb cuts, however, is long indeed.

  4. John Charles Wilson July 3, 2018 at 9:39 am #

    About two weeks ago, I got off the 6E at the stop called Southdale Exit and York Ave. (Stop # 51438). The driver let me off about 2 feet short of the sidewalk extension to the curb. The grass looked solid, so I stepped off. I instantly fell down. It must have been freshly laid sod that had been watered quite thoroughly. Yes, it had rained earlier that day, but not enough to make it *that* slippery!

    (If you Google Map the stop, the satellite image is inaccurate but the Street View image is current and correct.)

    Anyway, I was trying to get up and had a hard time. To the bus driver’s credit, he saw what happened and he and a passerby helped me get up. I do not blame the driver for this incident as the grass *looked* normal. I like to think of myself as “able bodied” as I can walk w/o physical aids but at 400 pounds I probably need a little less hubris (if that’s the right word). After all, the reason I chose that stop is it was the shortest walk to my destination, the Cub Foods across York Ave. Even a few years ago, I would have taken any 6 and walked from the transit center….

    This would definitely be a “bad” stop for anyone dependent on a mobility aid!

  5. Evan Roberts
    Evan July 3, 2018 at 11:20 am #

    This post needs to be read in conversation with Alex Cecchini’s from a few years ago about moving to quarter mile bus-stop spacing.
    https://streets.mn/2014/09/11/the-case-for-quarter-mile-bus-stop-spacing/

  6. Trey Joiner July 6, 2018 at 11:51 am #

    There actually is a government agency out there that enforces non-ADA compliance. The Department of Justice periodically completes sting missions in communities that have a poor ADA compliance track record.

    LA recently came under fire from a DOJ investigation.
    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lawsuit-broken-sidewalks-20150331-story.html

    However, the DOJ only really gets involved if they believe they can win a case against a public agency. So, its a federal requirement that communities have a Transition Plan or ADA plan for all public rights of way, these plans have multiple parts but basically serve a conflict resolution medium for ADA complaints.

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