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The Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) rulemaking has concluded. The PROWAG final rule has been published in the Federal Register. Please visit the Access Board’s PROWAG page for the guidelines.

Updated ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buses and Vans


  1. Over-the-road buses are buses characterized by an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment. 49 CFR 37.3. Outside the context of the ADA and this regulation, over-the-road buses are also commonly referred to as “motor coaches.”
  2. The 2007 Notice of Availability published in the Federal Register provided only notice that the Access Board’s draft revised guidelines had been made available for public review and comment. The actual text of the draft revised guidelines was posted on the Access Board’s website. See U.S. Access Board, [2007] Draft Revisions to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buses and Vans,
  3. As with the draft revised guidelines issued one year earlier, the 2008 Notice of Availability published in the Federal Register provided notice only that the Access Board’s draft revised guidelines were available for public review and comment. The actual text of the draft revised guidelines was posted on the Access Board’s website. See U.S. Access Board, [2008] Revised Draft of Updated Guidelines for Buses and Vans,
  4. DOT, Deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems: A Summary of the 2013 National Survey Results xiv, 26-27 (Aug. 2014).
  5. Historical data on automated stop announcement system deployments are based on the Appendix to APTA’s 2015 Public Transportation Fact Book, which provides data on vehicle amenities by mode of travel from 2001 through 2014. See 2015 Public Transportation Fact Book, Appendix A: Historical Tables, Table 30 (June 2015), available at: Data on automated atop announcement system deployments in 2015 are derived from a sample of vehicle amenity data in the 2015 APTA Public Transportation Database, which is available for purchase from APTA.
  6. For a detailed analysis of quantitative considerations that support promulgation of a VOMS 100 threshold (as opposed to other potential alternative VOMS thresholds for large transit agencies subject to the automated announcement systems requirement), see Final RA, Section 8 (Alternative Regulatory Approaches: Large Transit Agencies and the VOMS 100 Threshold & App. J (Key Characteristics of Transit Agencies Reporting Bus Modes of Service (2014 NTD Data)).
  7. For ease of reference, this section discusses requirements for running slope in terms of ramps only; however, in the final rule, such requirements apply equally to ramps and bridgeplates. For ramps and bridgeplates deployed to boarding platforms in level boarding bus systems, the 2010 NPRM proposed a maximum slope of 1:8 (12.5 percent). See 2010 NPRM, T303.8.2. In level boarding bus systems, some or all designated stops have boarding platforms, and the design of the boarding platforms and the vehicles are coordinated to provide boarding having little or no change in level between the vehicle floor and the boarding platform. At present, there are only a handful of level boarding bus systems in the United States. The Access Board received no comments on this proposed 1:8 maximum ramp slope in the context of level boarding bus systems. This requirement has been retained in the final rule, albeit with a minor change in the wording of the rule text from “station platform” to “boarding platform.” See discussion infra Section IV.B (Summary of Comments and Responses on Other Aspects of the Proposed Rule – Chapter 1: Application and Administration – T103 Definitions) (discussing definition of “boarding platforms”).
  8. See, e.g., Transp. Research Board, TCRP Synthesis 2 - Low-Floor Transit Buses: A Synthesis of Transit Practices (1994).
  9. See, e.g., K. Frost and G. Bertocci, Retrospective Review of Adverse Incidents Involving Passengers Seated in Wheeled Mobility Devices While Traveling in Large Accessible Transit Vehicles, 32 Medical Engineering & Physics 230-36 (2010).
  10. See, e.g., Transp. Research Board, Federal Transit Admin., TCRP Report 41 – New Designs and Operating Experiences with Low-Floor Buses i, 44-46 (1998)
  11. The Access Board also explored the feasibility of decreasing the maximum running slope for non-rail vehicle ramps in the 2007 and 2008 Draft Revised Guidelines. See supra Section II (Rulemaking History); see also 2010 NPRM, 75 FR at 43750.
  12. See Karen L. Frost, et al., Ramp-Related Incidents Involving Wheeled Mobility Device Users During Transit Bus Boarding/Alighting, 96 J. Physical Med. & Rehabilitation 928 - 33 (2015).
  13. For example, several commenters stated that the proposed additional clearances would result in a significant reduction in seating capacity. See U.S. Access Board, Discussion of [2008] Revisions, Additionally, commenters submitted floor and seating plans showing that a 36-inch wide circulation path was not feasible for some vehicle models or seating layouts. Id.
  14. RERC-APT is a partnership between the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) at the School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, and is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. Information on the RERC on Accessible Public Transportation is available at:
  15. Specifically, “common wheelchairs and mobility aids” is defined as follows in the Access Board’s existing guidelines: “[Any device] 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.” 36 CFR 1192.3.
  16. See, e.g., APTA, Standard Bus Procurement Guidelines RFP 2013 § TS 78-13 (May 2013) (available on APTA website)
  17. The Office of the Federal Register does not permit advisory materials to be published in the Code of Federal Regulations. Consequently, only the version of the proposed rule posted on the Access Board’s website includes advisory text and figures. The online version of the proposed rule, as well as other materials related to this rulemaking, can be found here:
  18. SAE Recommended Practice J2249, Wheelchair Tiedown and Occupant Restraint Systems for Use in Motor Vehicles (June 9, 1999), as noted in the 2010 NPRM, was in the process of being updated and published as a voluntary consensus standard. See 75 FR at 43753 n. 18. In 2012, this recommended practice was indeed formally published as ANSI/RESNA WC-4: 2012, Section 18 “Wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint systems for use in motor vehicles.”
  19. For example, under Tier I, it is assumed that the transit agency operates a fleet of 130 buses in fixed route service, while Tier III assumes a fleet of 530 vehicles in fixed route bus service. For a detailed discussion of the assumed characteristics for each of the three tiers, see Final RA, Section 5.1.1 & Appendix B.
  20. Arizona State Univ., Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Stuck at Home: By-Passing Transportation Roadblocks to Community Mobility and Independence 3 (2013), available at: National Council on Disability, Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities in the United States 13-14 (June 13, 2005), available at:
  21. See, e.g., Transportation Research Board, TCRP Synthesis 73 – AVL System for Bus Transit: Update 3, 3, 13-43, 64-66 (2008) (noting that, among other benefits, automated stop announcements enable vehicle operators to focus on safe vehicle operation, reduce customer complaints, and ensure better compliance with ADA regulations and other legal requirements); Delaware Center for Transportation, University of Delaware, Costs and Benefits of Advanced Public Transportation Systems at Dart First State 23-32 & App. A (July 2004) (general benefits of ITS deployments include: increased transit ridership and revenues from passenger fares; improved transit service; increased customer satisfaction; and, enhanced compliance with ADA requirements); DOT, ITS Joint Program Office, Evaluation of Acadia National Park ITS Field Operational Test: Final Report 4-13 – 4-17 (2003) (strong majority of visitors surveyed about automated on-board stop announcements on buses in Acadia National Park indicated that these announcements made it easier for them to get around, reduced uncertainty about bus stops, helped save them time, and played an influential role in their decision to use bus transit); see also National Council on Disability, Transportation Update: Where We’ve Gone and What We’ve Learned 39 (2015) (discussing the importance of effective stop announcements to persons with disabilities, and noting that “lack of an effective stop announcement and route identification program can force riders onto ADA paratransit”).
  22. See Federal Transit Administration, 2014 National Transportation Database – Agency Information, (last visited Jan. 11, 2016).
  23. See U.S Census Bureau, 2012 NAICS Definitions (undated), available at: (last visited: Jan. 11, 2016).