Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority accessibility
As is true for most mass transit systems, much of the Boston subway and commuter rail lines were built before wheelchair access was a requirement. Fortunately, the Boston system underwent significant expansion in the 1980s and 1990s and all the new facilities are accessible. The MBTA has also refurbished many stations and these too are accessible. Additional improvements are in progress or planned.
Accessibility on the "T" generally means that some combination elevators and wheelchair ramps connect the street and station platform. The MBTA provides a phone number with recorded elevator, wheelchair lift and escalator updates: 1-617-222-2828 or 1-800-392-6100.
Subway and commuter rail
- Most stations on the Orange Line, and on the Red Line (except for the Mattapan Line, see below) are accessible and all have high level platforms on the same level as train car doors.
- Stations on Blue Line are wheelchair accessible except for the three most important stations downtown. Currently (2004), only the outbound Blue Line platform at State Street is wheelchair accessible to the street. Inbound wheelchair users must take the Blue Line to Government Center and cross the platform there to an oubund Blue Line train and then take it to the accessible State Street platform. All Blue Line stations have high level platforms on the same level as train car doors. The MBTA has plans to make the remaining Blue Line stations fully accessible.
- The Green Line runs trolley cars and only newer vehicles have low-floor, wheelchair accessible entrances. Only a few stations currently have matching platforms.
- The Mattapan portion of the Red Line run runs older, high floor PCC trolley cars. Only the first and last stations are currently accessible.
- Of those MBTA commuter rail stations that have wheelchair access, most only have a short elevated platform that serves one or two cars. The short ramps are located at the end of the station away from Boston. A few commuter rail stations do have full length high platforms. These include:
See individual station articles for more information.
The MBTA is replacing the oldest part of its bus fleet with new buses that have flip-out wheelchair ramps at the front doorway. This is an incomplete solution at best, though, as it often requires an extended stop while the driver assists the wheelchair-bound patron to a secure place at the front of the bus.
Many of the T's trolleybuses have been replaced with low floor units. There is a Call-A-Lift service that enables a passenger to schedule a lift bus for the following day.
The T also has paratransit program, called The Ride which provides lift-equipped vans to transport people who cannot use general public transportation because of a physical, cognitive or mental disability, including those who use wheelchairs.
"Service animals are allowed on the T during all hours of operation, but must be kept under control at all times. No certification is required, nor is the animal expected to wear a special harness, scarf or other identifying markings." MBTA Web site, 2004
Recorded station announcements are sometimes hard to understand. Most, but not all, stations have yellow warning strips with bumps at the edge of the platforms.
The MBTA has a TTY number for "T" information: (617) 222-5146. Many stations have TTY pay phones. The MBTA web site has a list.
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