Interior Bus Design

participant using bus simulator in usability study for improving bus interiors

Transportation Difficulties: Americans Can’t Leave Their Homes

Transportation plays an important role in creating an accessible society because it is important for ensuring employment, citizenship and social interaction for people with disabilities. More than half a million people with disabilities cannot leave their homes because of transportation difficulties(1). Even when they are able to leave their home, 30% of Americans with disabilities have inadequate access to transportation(2). Historically, Americans have depended on private transportation more than public transit. But, this is changing rapidly due to the high cost of gasoline, increased traffic congestion, and an aging population. The challenges of public transportation in general, combined with the critical importance of local transportation for people with disabilities and older adults, proves that there is a real need for innovations and knowledge that can benefit citizens more effectively.

Research on the Usability of Public Transit Vehicles

This project organized and developed a comprehensive evidence base on boarding and disembarking public transit vehicles, completed research to address key policy and design issues and identified new research needs. The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC-APT) conducted laboratory research on the usability of access ramps in transit applications by employing a full scale simulation of a low-floor transit bus and an adjustable ramp. One study evaluated the usability of ramps of different slopes during ascent and descent. The second study focused on the ease of boarding, fare payment and disembarking under different conditions of fare payment and available floor space at the front area of a low floor bus. The data collected in this study established a model for evidence-based practice in this field for the development of policies, standards and design tools.
usability expert conducting vehicle interior study

RERC-APT Research Improves Bus Designs

This project was part of a larger effort of the RERC-APT to research and develop methods to empower consumers and service providers in the design and evaluation of accessible transportation equipment, information services and physical environments. Data collected in this project was used to design and evaluate vehicle features, boarding technologies and design of stops and stations. Research on the anthropometry of wheeled mobility devices and their users indicated that current dimensions prescribed in US accessibility standards for transportation are inadequate, e.g. clear floor area and ramp slope. The researchers included these findings when they submitted comments in response to the Access Board’s proposal to revise and update its accessibility guidelines for buses, over-the-road buses and vans. Findings from the research were also used to provide the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) with recommendations for new bus designs; two of these recommendations were incorporated in two new buses.

NFTA 1300s bus series with recommendation changes implemented

1 Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation. (2003). Transportation difficulties keep over half a million disabled at home, April 2003. BTS Issue Brief, No. 3.

2 Harris Interactive, Inc. (2004). 2000 N.O.D./Harris Survey of Community Participation. New York: Harris Interactive, Inc.