Summary Minutes (approved Jan 09, 2014)
Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee – 1st Meeting
November 13 and 14, 2013
Washington, DC

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On behalf of the Access Board, Mr. Christopher Hart opened the first meeting of the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee at 10 a.m. in the Access Board’s conference room at 1331 F Street, N.W., room 800, Washington, DC. Mr. Hart welcomed the committee members, alternates, and members of the public and then introduced the Chair of the committee, Mr. Billy Altom. Committee members and others in attendance introduced themselves (see attachment A for attendance). Mr. David Capozzi provided an overview of Access Board programs and services and also welcomed the committee.

Ms. Marsha Mazz reviewed why the Board formed the advisory committee; discussed the types of issues falling within the Board’s purview under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and described how the committee could best serve the Access Board’s needs.

Ms. Aromie Noe briefly reviewed the requirement that the Board develop a regulatory assessment to accompany a future proposed rule using the advisory committee’s recommendations. Ms. Noe explained that the committee could help with the regulatory assessment by providing, where possible, cost and benefit data with their recommendations. Ms. Lisa Fairhall then reviewed the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

The committee reviewed its draft operating procedures and voted to make several minor changes. They lifted the limitation in Section 4 restricting when an organization, not on the committee, can petition for membership. In an unrelated matter, Mr. Paul Beatty pointed out that in accordance with a Presidential Memorandum no federally registered lobbyist could participate in the work of the committee. However, he indicated that such individuals are not prohibited from attending meetings and providing comment during public commit periods. Following lunch, the committee approved the operating procedures (copy at

In accordance with Section 4 of the operating procedures, the committee accepted applications from six organizations seeking committee membership. Mr. Beatty explained that successful applicants, approved by three quarters of the committee members, will have their recommendation for appointment sent to the Access Board Chair for approval. Applicants were asked to describe how their interests are not reflected in the current committee make-up. The applicants were:

  1. American Public Transportation Association
  2. Hearing Loss Association of America
  3. New Jersey Transit
  4. MTA
  5. Q’Straint
  6. Siemens

After a committee discussion on the applications, staff circulated and collected a written ballot. Results were announced the following day after consultation with the Access Board Chair.

Following the balloting, Mr. Altom invited public comment. No commenters came forward.

Next, the committee established the following three meeting dates and times

  • January 9 and 10, 2014 (first day 10 to 5, second day 9 to 3)
  • April 10 and 11, 2014
  • September 11 and 12, 2014

All meetings will be held at 1331 F Street, NW, Room 800, Washington, DC, 20004.

The committee then recessed for the day at 5:15 p.m.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mr. Altom opened the second day of the meeting at 9:15 a.m. He then announced that at least three quarters of the committee membership had recommended three additional committee members and that they had been approved by the Chair of the Access Board. The new members: Hearing Loss Association of America, New Jersey Transit, and Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York were asked to take their seats at the table.

Ms. Fairhall briefly reviewed two provisions of the ADA statute which address intercity bi-level dinning cars and number of wheelchair spaces in coach cars. Ms. Melissa Anderson followed by providing an overview of the Access Board’s current rail vehicle accessibility guidelines.

Following Ms. Anderson’s presentation, Mr. Altom invited everyone on the committee, including members and alternates, to list their issues related to rail access and the current guidelines. Mr. Beatty requested that the committee focus on new construction issues, noting that the committee can also make recommendations for altered and remanufactured vehicles, time permitting. This activity took several hours and continued after lunch. Mr. Altom invited members of the public to add their issues to the list.

The committee decided that the issues list would be refined by Access Board staff and then sent out for committee review and comment. The goal is to create a refined issues list that can be used at the next meeting (January 9 and 10, 2014) by the committee to establish priorities for areas to be addressed in their recommendations to the Access Board. New issues can be added to the list by committee members. See Attachment B for the draft issues list.

The next meeting will be held January 9 and 10, 2014, in the Access Board’s conference room. The first day of the meeting will start at 10 a.m. and run to 5 p.m., and the second day will start at 9 a.m. and run to 3 p.m.

The committee adjourned at 2:40 p.m.



Attachment A
U.S. Access Board Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee
November 13 and 14, 2013

Members Present

  1. Alstom Transportation - Jon Holbrook
  2. American Council of the Blind - Melanie Brunson (day 1) and Terry Pacheco
  3. (Amtrak) National Railroad Passenger Corporation - Joseph Slaughter
  4. Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living - Billy Altom (Committee Chair)
  5. Bombardier Transportation - André Gagné, ing.
  6. California Department of Transportation, Division of Rail - Stanton Hunter
  7. Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access - Edward Steinfield and Jordana Maisel
  8. Community Transportation Association of America - Robert Carlson
  9. Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund - Marilyn Golden
  10. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) - Linda Martin* and Calvin Gibson*
  11. Hearing Access Program - Janice Schacter Lintz
  12. International Centre for Accessible Transportation - Uwe Rutenberg
  13. Maryland Transit Administration- Erich Kolig (day 1) and David Hughson (day 2)
  14. Metra & Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation - Justin R. Vonashek and Francis Mascarenhas
  15. National Association of the Deaf- Andrew Phillips
  16. National Association of Railroad Passengers - Ross Capon and Ken Briers
  17. National Council on Independent Living - Cliff Perez
  18. National Disability Rights Network - Dennis Cannon and Kenneth Shiotani
  19. Parsons Brinckerhoff - Jackson Xue
  20. RailPlan International – Jonathan Michel
  21. Ricon Corporation - Stanton D. Saucier
  22. South West Transit Association - Crystal Lyons (day 1)
  23. Talgo, Inc. - Joshua Coran
  24. United Spinal Association - James Weisman

Organizations added November 14th

25. Hearing Loss Association of America – Lisa Hamlin
26. New Jersey Transit – Ed Hoff
27. Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York – Michael Wetherall and Frank Maldari

Access Board

Christopher S. Hart, Board Member and liaison to the advisory committee
Melissa Anderson, Transportation Engineer
Rosemarie Bunales, Executive Secretary
Paul Beatty, Accessibility Specialist and Designated Federal Officer to the Advisory Committee
David M. Capozzi, Executive Director
Lisa Fairhall, Deputy General Counsel
Marsha K. Mazz, Director, Office of Technical and Information Services
Aromie Noe, Regulatory Analysis
Scott Windley, Accessibility Specialist


Thomas Fodor, U.S. Department of Justice
Sid Goldstein, Transit Access Report
Paul Grether, SW Ohio Reg. Transit Auth.
Hal Hiemstra, United Streetcar/Ball Janik (day 1)
Pierre Holloman, City of Alexandria, VA (day 1)
Charles Joseph, American Public Transportation Association
Kevin Kesler, Federal Railroad Administration (day 1)
David Knight, U.S. Department of Justice
Marshall Lucier, Q'Straint (day 1)
Glenn Millis, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Naomi Milton, U.S. Department of Justice
David Nelson, Amtrak
Robert Reuter, Access Systems (day 2)
Melissa Shurland, Federal Railroad Administration
Gurmit Singh, Siemens
John Stolz, Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Long Island Rail Road (day 2)
Gary Talbot, Amtrak

Attachment B
U.S. Access Board Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee
Refined Issues List – New Vehicles – For all Subparts

General Issues

1. Consider the designs and recommendations resulting from work done by FRA under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA)
2. Identify best practices and alternative designs used in other countries
3. Determine how best to address accessibility in various types of bi-level cars
4. Gain a better understanding of legal and structural constraints

a. How do FRA regulations impact rail vehicle design
b. How do various types of vehicles differ in terms of structural constraints

5. Population to be served by accessibility features

a. Consider the needs of people using differing types of mobility device, seniors, and individuals who are obese
b. Consider adjusting current clearance and space requirements to accommodate contemporary wheeled mobility device sizes

6. Consider applying existing accessibility standards to features not specifically addressed in the current standards
7. Avoid redundant regulatory requirements (e.g., FRA and FTA).


1. Real-time messages (audible or visible)

a. Dual mode (audible and visible) messaging
b. Examine what factors should be used to determine equivalency of audible and visible messages
c. Explore tri-mode communication

2. Audible messages

a. Clarity of announcements
b. Assistive listening

i. Provide assistive listening (induction loops) throughout the train in bathrooms, meal cars, bedrooms and in bi-level rail cars
ii. Evaluate technical feasibility of induction loops on rail cars

3. Signage

a. Legibility of signs, e.g., font, case, style, and location

i. Address variable message signs

b. Scoping for certain types of signs e.g. location, number, etc.
c. When and how to provide non-visual formats
d. Visibility and frequency of station name signs by persons seated on-board in wheelchair space and those standing

4. New Technologies

a. Examine the potential for providing messages on hand-held devices such as smartphones – tri-mode communication
b. Examine how to address onboard route mapping, trainvision, and other real-time communication systems

5. Emergency Notification

a. Use of bed shakers and visible door knocks for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
b. Notification of persons with vision impairments
c. Back-up power to service emergency notification devices
d. Visual emergency alerts (flashing fire alarms and such) in all parts of the rail cars -- compartments, main area, restrooms, etc.

6. Other communications issue

a. How to address the information needs of riders with cognitive disabilities
b. How to make messages accessible when they are exterior to the vehicle and are not station-based
c. How to provide access to information where tour-type (docent) service is provided in inaccessible locations, e.g., on the upper level of a car without vertical access
d. How to make stop request device in vestibules accessible
e. Examine potential overlaps with FTA and FRA requirements, e.g., conductor call button
f. Use of detectable warnings at exit stairs

i. Characteristics of detectable warnings in these locations


1. Lighting in circulation areas, restrooms, sleeping compartments, and in any other areas
2. Task lighting and on-demand passenger controls


1. Use of devices on-vehicle versus platform-based boarding devices

a. When is permanent versus temporary installation appropriate
b. Back-up methods for mechanical lifts
c. Impact on dwell time / service levels

2. Platforms

a. How best to address the use of bus and light rail boarding devices on shared platforms
b. Definition of level boarding (+/- 5/8”) for light/heavy & intercity long trains at level platforms
c. Evaluate different car types and implications for level boarding

3. Wheelchair lifts

a. Possibly increase lifting capacity– 800 lbs. minimum
b. How best to address extreme super-elevations
c. Lift platform barrier height
d. Self-operable lifts

4. Ramps

a. Rethink the ramp slope and railing requirements
b. On-board storage of ramps

5. Bridgeplates

a. Barriers and crowding conditions

i. Is space requirement similar to bus ramps/lifts?

b. Examine how bridgeplates interact with detectable warnings on the platform
c. Consider alternatives for near level boarding , e.g., low floor vehicles and bridge plates

6. Light rail

a. Examine implications of 60-70% low floor vs 100% low floor vehicles

7. Gaps

a. Examine the potential for gap filler devices on vehicles or platforms
b. Examine European pop-out steps

8. Doors and doorways

a. Minimum width of doorway and each leaf
b. Handrails to assist with boarding and alighting
c. How to provide accessible entry to each boarding and alighting area

i. Examine the potential for bi-level access from the station

d. How to identify which doors open on interior & exterior of cars when not all doors may open
e. Audible and visible alerts prior to door closing

Onboard Circulation

1. Features of the circulation path

a. Characteristics of circulation paths, including walking surfaces, protruding objects, maneuvering clearances within vestibules, changes in level, thresholds, and other onboard circulation features
b. Doors

i. How best to make doors and flexible connections between cars accessible
ii. Address operation of sliding doors, consider power doors and locks

c. Aisle width in each type of car
d. Stanchion and handhold criteria for rapid transit and light rail
e. Consideration of an on-board lift to access bi-level cars, especially dome or viewing cars

2. Spaces within the train

a. Consider hardware solutions to ensure the availability of accessible features when they are used to store luggage; as additional standing space, etc.
b. Access to and within special cars, e.g., observation cars, dining cars, lounge cars

3. Escape and Egress

a. Operation of emergency window controls
b. Onboard evacuation chairs, etc.

Wheelchair Space and Other Seating

1. Scoping

a. Number of wheelchair spaces according to vehicle type
b. Examine the possibility of requiring readily removable seats to provide additional spaces for people using mobility devices
c. Number and location of priority seating

2. Wheelchair Space Design

a. Maneuvering space to access wheelchair spaces
b. Minimum size of wheelchair space

i. Consider sizes in PRIIA, i.e., 32” X 59”
ii. Consider whether minimum spaces should vary according to vehicle type

c. Amenities and controls within wheelchair spaces equivalent to those provided people in inaccessible seating, e.g., tray tables, cell charging outlets, lighting, movies, etc.
d. Availability of windows adjacent to wheelchair spaces

3. Specific features associated with wheelchair seating

a. Knee and toe clearance under tables
b. Define minimum table size

4. Consider the need for and characteristics of wheelchair securement devices

5. Other types of accessible seating

a. Transfer seats

i. Need tray tables and ability to seat in the direction of travel

b. Seating to accommodate service animals

i. Minimum space needed, number, and location

c. Larger and stronger seats for passengers who are larger and heavier

Rest Rooms

1. Consider alternate designs in existing accessibility standards and in use in other countries
2. Accommodate dependent and independent transfers
3. Examine PRIIA, CAL train, and Acela restroom designs vs. existing standards

Sleeping Compartments

1. Scoping for sleeping rooms for persons with communications needs
2. Ensure that controls and amenities are accessible

a. Controls within reach

i. Light controls reachable from the bed
ii. Outlet locations
iii. Redundant accessible controls where controls are inaccessible

b. Accessible solid surface tables with knee and toe space beneath
c. Define minimum table size
d. Visual doorbells/knockers so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can lock their doors and be alerted when someone needs to enter

3. Bed heights that permit transfer from a wheelchair
4. Minimum space requirements

a. With and without bed deployed
b. Turning space
c. Egress and emergency operation of doors

5. Evaluate bathroom design, including showers, when located within the compartment
6. Space for service animals
7. Access to other sleeping car amenities outside of the sleeping compartment


1. Accessible tables with knee and toe space
2. Accessible service counters
3. Accessible self-service, e.g., vending machines, condiments, coffee, etc.
4. Consider recommendations for access to bi-level dining


1. Connections to service animal relief areas
2. How best to address automated rail systems
3. How to provide incentives for innovative universal design practices
4. Recognize that not all access concerns have an architectural solution
5. Need car design information, such as drawings, to assess feasibility of ideas
6. Consider operational equivalencies
7. Standards for websites and smart phones