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Subpart A

§1192.1 Purpose

This part provides minimum guidelines and requirements for accessibility standards to be issued by the Department of Transportation in 49 CFR part 37 for transportation vehicles required to be accessible by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.

This section merely sets forth the purpose of the guidelines which is to establish the minimum requirements for standards issued by DOT. Section 504 of the ADA requires the Access Board to issue minimum guidelines and requirements for vehicles and facilities. In turn, DOT must issue standards which are consistent with these guidelines. The DOT standards could be more strict than the guidelines but could not provide a lesser degree of accessibility. This format is similar to that under the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 in which the Board issued the Minimum Guidelines and Requirements for Accessible Design which sets the baseline for the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). As discussed previously, the standards themselves have been issued by DOT and are codified at 49 CFR Part 38.

§1192.2 Equivalent Facilitation

Departures from particular technical and scoping requirements of these guidelines by use of other designs and technologies are permitted where the alternative designs and technologies used will provide substantially equivalent or greater access to and usability of the vehicle. Departures are to be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Department of Transportation under the procedure set forth in 49 CFR 37.7.

The Board and DOT agree that there is a need for some flexibility to address unique and special circumstances and to facilitate the application of new technologies. Therefore, an “equivalent facilitation” provision has been included that is similar to the provision in the buildings and facilities guidelines. DOT has established procedures under which an entity (e.g., transit agencies, providers, etc.) may pursue alternative means of providing accessibility with respect to specific requirements of the standard. The FTA or Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator will determine on a case-by-case basis whether equivalent facilitation is provided. See 49 CFR 37.7 for the detailed procedures which must be followed as part of an application to the Administrator for an equivalent facilitation determination. DOT intends to consult with the Board in making determinations of equivalency.

The Board wishes to point out that equivalent facilitation does not constitute a waiver from any accessibility requirement and is not a lesser standard of accessibility. Alternate designs and technologies may be used only where they will provide substantially equivalent or greater access to, and usability of, a vehicle. The Board encourages that, when considering alternative designs and technologies, entities consult with individuals with disabilities and their organizations at the earliest possible stage of the process. The Board is available to provide technical assistance regarding equivalent facilitation.

In developing an equivalent facilitation proposal, an entity should consider the intent of the guideline or standard requirement. For example, large buses are required to have a doorway height of 5’8” from the raised lift platform. This height, although it accommodates only about 70% of the adult male population, is intended to provide some minimum head clearance for standees.

This clearance is especially important where a standee would be positioned outside the vehicle door when the lift is down but is moved up and through the door as the lift is raised. Other models of lifts do not move the standee through the door, but the individual would need to pass through the door after the lift is raised. While it is not practicable to provide clearance for the 90th percentile standee, it is desirable to provide as much head room as possible, since ducking to clear the doorway may be more difficult for persons with ambulatory disabilities than for other members of the general population. A greater height was not specified because information supplied by vehicle manufacturers indicated that this height was consistent with that needed to accommodate overhead door opening mechanisms and roof lines.

However, some lifts are designed such that the motion is entirely vertical (“elevator” type lifts) and a standee is positioned at the full inboard edge and is raised fully within the vehicle, clear of the door lintel. In this case, the FTA Administrator has determined that the intent of the doorway height requirement is being met by the particular lift configuration, provided the location of the handrails is such that the full inboard standing position is viable.

§1192.3 Definitions

Accessible means, with respect to vehicles covered by this part, compliance with the provisions of this part.

Automated guideway transit (AGT) system means a fixed-guideway transportation system which operates with automated (driverless) individual vehicles or multi-car trains. Service may be on a fixed schedule or in response to a passenger-activated call button. Such systems using small, slow moving vehicles, often operated in airports and amusement parks, are sometimes called “people movers”.

Bus means any of several types of self-propelled vehicles, other than an over-the-road bus, generally rubber tired, intended for use on city streets, highways, and busways, including but not limited to minibuses, forty- and thirty-foot transit buses, articulated buses, double-deck buses, and electric powered trolley buses, used to provide designated or specified public transportation services. Self-propelled, rubber tire vehicles designed to look like antique or vintage trolleys or street cars are considered buses.

Common wheelchairs and mobility aids means belonging to a class of three or four wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed for and used by persons with mobility impairments which do not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length, measured 2 inches above the ground, and do not weigh more than 600 pounds when occupied.

Commuter rail car means a rail passenger car obtained by a commuter authority (as defined by 49 CFR 37.3) for use in commuter rail transportation. Commuter rail transportation means short-haul rail passenger service operating in metropolitan and suburban areas, operated by a commuter authority whether within or across the geographical boundaries of a State, usually characterized by reduced fare, multiple ride, and commutation tickets and by morning and evening peak period operations. This term does not include light or rapid rail transportation.

Demand responsive system means any system of transporting individuals, including the provision of designated public transportation service by public entities and the provision of transportation service by private entities, including but not limited to specified public transportation service, which is not a fixed route system.

Designated public transportation means transportation provided by a public entity (other than public school transportation) by bus, rail, or other conveyance (other than transportation by aircraft or intercity or commuter rail transportation) that provides the general public with general or special service, including charter service, on a regular and continuing basis.

Fixed route system means a system of transporting individuals (other than by aircraft), including the provision of designated public transportation service by public entities and the provision of transportation service by private entities, including but not limited to specified public transportation service, on which a vehicle is operated along a prescribed route according to a fixed schedule.

High speed rail means an intercity-type rail service which operates primarily on a dedicated guideway or track not used, for the most part, by freight, including, but not limited to, trains on welded rail, magnetically levitated (maglev) vehicles on a special guideway, or other advanced technology vehicles, designed to travel at speeds in excess of those possible on other types of railroads.

Intercity rail passenger car means a rail car intended for use by revenue passengers obtained by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) for use in intercity rail transportation.

Intercity rail transportation means transportation provided by Amtrak.

Light rail means a streetcar-type vehicle railway operated on city streets, semi-private rights-of-way, or exclusive private rights-of-way. Service may be provided by step-entry vehicles or by level-boarding.

New vehicle means a vehicle which is offered for sale or lease after manufacture without any prior use.

Over-the-road bus means a vehicle characterized by an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment.

Rapid rail means a subway-type transit vehicle railway operated on exclusive private rights-of-way with high-level platform stations. Rapid rail may also operate on elevated or at-grade level track separated from other traffic.

Remanufactured vehicle means a vehicle which has been structurally restored and has had new or rebuilt major components installed to extend its service life.

Specified public transportation means transportation by bus, rail, or any other conveyance (other than aircraft) provided by a private entity to the general public, with general or special service (including charter service) on a regular and continuing basis.

Tram means any of several types of motor vehicles consisting of a tractor unit, with or without passenger accommodations, and one or more passenger trailer units, including but not limited to vehicles providing shuttle service to remote parking areas, between hotels and other public accommodations, and between and within amusement parks and other recreation areas.

Used vehicle means a vehicle with prior use.

The definitions in this section are consistent with the definitions included in the DOT final rule. This set of definitions, however, does not include some terms which are included in the DOT rule, primarily those which concern operational issues not addressed by the guidelines. Notice that the term “accessible” means compliance with the provisions of the guidelines (or the DOT standards in 49 CFR Part 38) which includes any determinations of equivalent facilitation.

§1192.4 Miscellaneous Instructions

(a) Dimensional conventions. Dimensions that are not noted as minimum or maximum are absolute.

(b) Dimensional tolerances. All dimensions are subject to conventional engineering tolerances for material properties and field conditions, including normal anticipated wear not exceeding accepted industry-wide standards and practices.

(c) Notes. The text of these guidelines does not contain notes or footnotes. Additional information, explanations, and advisory materials are located in the Appendix.

(d) General terminology. The terms used in this part shall have the following meanings:

(1) Comply with means meet one or more specification of these guidelines.

(2) If, or if…then denotes a specification that applies only when the conditions described are present.

(3) May denotes an option or alternative.

(4) Shall denotes a mandatory specification or requirement.

(5) Should denotes an advisory specification or recommendation and is used only in the appendix to this part.

This section contains several provisions designed to reduce some confusion which became evident in the responses to the original proposal. It contains miscellaneous instructions, including dimensional conventions and tolerances, and general terminology. An appendix was also added to the final guidelines that contains additional information, explanations, and advisory materials. That material is summarized in the discussion sections of this document, where appropriate.

With respect to dimensional tolerances, certain materials expand or contract due to variations in temperature or during the process of “curing” or drying. As a result, even close tolerances during construction or manufacture cannot ensure continued conformance to a given standard. For example, a cable-driven historic inclined system has been modified to be generally accessible. However, the cable is subject to uncontrollable stretching during the day, especially in hot weather. The cars generally provide level entry in the morning, but may be significantly out of alignment by the end of the day. Such variation, even in a new system, resulting from material variations beyond the control of the operator would not be deemed in violation of the guidelines. Furthermore, unlike buildings and facilities which are essentially stationary objects, vehicles move and have dynamic as well as static “envelopes”. Springs lose their elasticity, steel rails and wheels wear down, and supposedly “fixed” objects settle due to dynamic stress. The allowance for normal wear, however, is only to be applied in accordance with accepted industry standards and practices, not simply an agency policy. If the industry, including designers, engineers, manufacturers, operators, and recognized professional associations agree that a specific adherence can be achieved above that allowed by an agency policy or practice, it is the industry standard which is to be applied, not the agency policy.

Reliance on dimensional tolerances, however, is not an excuse for improper or deferred maintenance, or poor design or construction methods. For example, the claim of “dimensional tolerances” could not be made for a lift which fails to meet the vehicle floor within the limits specified in these guidelines, simply because an adjustment which could have been reasonably made to a control system or limit switch was not made. Neither could a rail operator be excused from compliance because it accepted vehicles from a manufacturer which did not meet the operator’s bid specification. Nor could a group of manufacturers, operators or designers, for example, simply get together to adopt a lower “standard” solely for the purpose of relaxing compliance. Such a change would need to be acknowledged by a significant segment of the industry to constitute an “accepted industry standard or practice.” Moreover, dimensional tolerances apply to the construction, manufacture or operation of a system, not to the design. An entity cannot issue vehicle specifications which are less stringent than those required by the guidelines; nor could it justify a wider horizontal gap as being within dimensional tolerances because it did not specify its vehicles to be within achievable limits for sway or stability.

Technical Assistance

Contact the Access Board for assistance on these guidelines