Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on January 01, 2024
BART Set to Enhance Accessibility in Bay Area Following Class Action SettlementSource: BART

The Bay Area's disabled community is poised for a transportation overhaul as BART gears up for major accessibility improvements following a recent class action settlement, according to information from Hoodline. BART's commitment includes revamping station elevators and escalators, ensuring fare gates remain operational for all users, and enhancing staff training on disability access. This lawsuit settlement could drastically alter commuting for those with mobility disabilities.

Construction work at Bay Fair Station commences on January 3 and spans four weeks, with all pedestrian detours remaining accessible during this period. All while BART's Accessibility Improvement Program moves forward with station improvements like sidewalks and loading zones, the effort will also upgrade vital amenities such as handrails, wall detection, and lighting, as detailed in an update obtained by BART's official news site.

Settlement terms from the 2017 legal action reveal that BART will shell out a comprehensive capacity-building program aimed at station agents and operation control center personnel, instructed in disability access and etiquette, emergency preparedness, and elevator downtime protocols, as reported by Hoodline. In the coming 16 years, the transit agency has agreed to refurbish 40 elevators and commence a major escalator upgrade initiative within downtown San Francisco and beyond.

Punctuality is key in these upgrades: when elevators go offline, BART pledged to have repair teams respond within an hour; this plan to bolster reliability and transparency for commuters will include real-time notifications through various channels, including texts and platform announcements. The focus on efficiency also spills over into maintenance, with System Service Workers having to arrive at stations to clean up messes within 30 minutes after they're reported.

In addition to infrastructural improvements, the legal accord has financial implications, with advocacy groups like Senior and Disability Action and the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco looking to receive a $15,000 service award. At the same time, individuals Pi Ra and Ian Smith may get a cut of $7,500 each. Whilst the settlement does not provide monetary relief to class members, it does clear past and future claims relating to accessibility law over the settlement's lifespan, the final approval of which looms on April 18, 2024.