Guide for barrier-free bus stops published
Around 40% of the population benefit directly from barrier-free public transport. This is because not only people with an officially determined permanent disability (e.g. visually and hearing impaired, physically handicapped and cognitively impaired people) are mobility-impaired, but also many others such as pregnant women, children, elderly people and those with temporary injuries, as well as people with heavy luggage or people unfamiliar with the area. A completely barrier-free usability of public transport also increases the attractiveness for all passengers. What makes the use of public transport easier for some or enables access to it in the first place, means an increase in comfort for others - for example through step-free vehicle access or through easily understandable timetable information.
The now published guide does not set any new planning requirements, but combines existing specifications for accessible transport facilities from applicable regulations into a compact and practical tool for all planners of accessible bus stops. The main objective of the guide is to avoid planning errors that can easily occur despite all efforts. The future target height for the bus stop edge in Saarland is to be 22 cm. The design planning of barrier-free bus stops with high stopping edges places considerable demands on the qualifications of planners and construction workers, especially with regard to the interactions with transverse slopes of the carriageway and the side space, as well as the application of practice-oriented trailing curves. In order to ensure the highest possible level of practical relevance and acceptance, great importance was therefore attached to close coordination with larger transport companies, the Zweckverband Personennahverkehr Saarland and the state commissioner for people with disabilities.
"The local conditions are often completely different from stop to stop. Therefore, unfortunately, there is no "one" perfectly accessible bus stop that can be reproduced everywhere," says project manager of the guide Dr.-Ing. Dirk Boenke from STUVA, summarising the main difficulty in planning. "Bus stop planners have to determine for each individual bus stop, for example, which bus stop shape in combination with the height of the stopping edge and other parameters will allow the bus to approach at all for a barrier-free passenger exchange. In addition, floor indicators for visually impaired people must be laid correctly and the barrier-free access, which means the connection of the bus stop to the surrounding network of paths, must be individually adapted," continues the head of the Transport & Environment Department at STUVA. "It is also important to have a conflict-free cycling route to ensure only the most important minimum standards of accessibility." These minimum requirements must basically be implemented at every stop. In addition, there are numerous planning elements of the so-called extended standard that must also be implemented depending on the importance of the stop (e.g. high passenger volume or important connection point). These include barrier-free seating and passenger shelters as well as dynamic passenger information displays. In addition, the guideline also addresses many other important points, such as the necessary consideration of the two-senses principle in planning, requirements for the buses or also the necessary training of the driving personnel and their sensitisation with regard to the need for support for people with reduced mobility.
The guideline will be established as a binding standard for the creation of barrier-free bus stops in Saarland with immediate effect. For years, the state government has been funding the expansion and conversion as well as new construction measures at bus stops of road-based public transport (bus stops) with 90% of the eligible costs on the basis of the NMOB accessibility guideline. In future, these subsidies can only be applied for if compliance with the new guideline is proven. A checklist will be used to ensure that applications are processed and that the planning complies with the guidelines. The aim is to ensure that all bus stops in the Saarland are accessible to a uniform standard and without serious planning errors. Of course, the guide is also recommended reading for all others interested in the topic outside the Saarland. The new guide can now be downloaded as a barrier-free digital edition via the adjacent link.
The homepage of the Saarland Ministry for the Environment, Climate, Mobility, Agriculture and Consumer Protection provides a lot more information on the project (click here).