Friday, May 30, 2014

Bus Stop Improvement Program has Improved Safety and Accessibility at Nearly 3,000 Stops

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett (left) announced that an eight-year bus stop improvement program has enhanced pedestrian safety and accessibility at nearly 3,000 bus stops. Joining Leggett were Seth Morgan, member of the Commission on People with Disabilities and Carolyn Biggins, general manager Ride On. 
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced that an eight-year bus stop improvement program has enhanced the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility and pedestrian safety at 2,879 stops. A survey of the County’s 5,400 stops completed in 2006 identified 3,400 in need of some type of improvement. Work continues to upgrade the remaining bus stops.

Improvements to the bus stops have included construction of:
  • 1,246 ramps at 813 intersections;
  • 79,240 square feet of sidewalk leading to bus stops; 
  • 161,647 square feet of five-by-eight-foot concrete pads at 2,400 bus stops; and 
  • 408 “knee walls” at sloped sites to prevent wheelchairs from rolling onto dangerous terrain and to provide seating for waiting passengers.
The bus stop survey inventoried each of the County’s stops for 115 factors in five categories: precise location, accessibility, level of safety, information/signage and amenities. Upgrades were first made to stops with the highest ridership and those deemed of most urgent need of improvement, such as stops not located at intersections that required pedestrians to cross mid-block or were located alongside multi-lane roads with fast-moving traffic. Many bus stops were moved to safer locations. To save money, in one specific area, enhancements were also made to surrounding stops.

In addition to ensuring ADA compliance, the upgrades also reduce the distance to crosswalks, provide pedestrian refuge islands, establish connections to existing sidewalks, address slope issues and improve drainage. Ride On works closely with the County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) Division of Traffic Engineering and MCDOT’s sidewalk program to ensure that construction in a neighborhood is coordinated and improvements can all be made at the same time.

The $11 million Bus Stop Improvement Project was approved in the 2006-2011 six-year Capital Improvements Program budget. As well as enhancing Ride On bus stops, MCDOT is also improving about 600 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) stops and 900 stops in the County shared between Metro and Ride On. The average cost to improve each bus stop is $3,000.

MCDOT continues efforts to improve the remaining bus stops. Upgrading these stops is more complex, because many are located on roads not originally built to accommodate pedestrians. Enhancing these bus stops requires purchasing right-of-way from private property owners or trying to work around obstructions -- such as walls and fences -- that prevent installing ADA compliant facilities.

Information about Ride On routes and schedules is available online.