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July 26, 2000
10th Anniversary of Landmark Access Law
DART Committed to Full Accessibility on Buses, Trains
Birthdays and anniversaries are often times for reflection on what has been. But DART is using the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a starting point to find still more ways to make transit even more accessible.
In 1990, when the law protecting the rights of persons with disabilities took effect, DART's primary focus was to make the necessary adjustments to vehicles and facilities in order to provide accessibility. In the years since, DART has added a fleet of accessible light rail and commuter rail trains that board passengers at fully accessible stations. Even more significant, DART has added nearly 500 new state-of-the-art city buses that are wheelchair lift-equipped, kneel and use visual and audio displays to provide customers destination information. In about a year, all of DART's buses will be accessible.
Today, DART focuses on providing top-notch customer service - making sure all customers have a good ride on DART.
"The ADA has been quite instrumental for people with disabilities because it gives them the opportunity to live a normal life," said Marcus Moore, DART Manager, ADA Programs/Accessible Services. "DART has always strived to have accessible vehicles - not because of the ADA - but because it is the right thing to do," he added.
One key to better customer service is convenient scheduling. To better meet customer needs, DART enhanced its fully automated routing and scheduling system when it implemented X-Press-Booking (XPB) earlier this year. XPB gives customers 24-hours a day, seven-days a week access to an interactive voice system to schedule and cancel trips. This allows them to conduct their scheduling in a more efficient and effective manner.
Another important element of DART's ADA program was the creation of the Paratransit Access Advisory Group (PAAG) that advises on issues of people with disabilities. The group - composed of decision-makers from the 13 cities the agency serves - meets the third Friday of each month to discuss disability related issues.
To help disabled customers take full advantage of DART's bus and rail services, the agency has a comprehensive Travel Training program. The free program offers the necessary training to disabled people who rely on DART's services to reach a wide variety of destinations. Travel training is not required to use fixed-route services, but is an ideal program because it teaches customers how to purchase bus and light rail tickets, recognize bus numbers, properly board and depart vehicles, and correctly identify landmarks.
"The bottom line is that DART wants all customers to feel safe and comfortable while using our services," Moore said. "Satisfying the needs of all customers is important to us and we will continue to work hard to help disabled passengers realize how convenient it is to use transit. Once they get a taste of independence, they won't want anything else."
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