National Academies Press: OpenBook

Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities (2020)

Chapter: Chapter 9 - From Terminal Exit to Leaving the Airport

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Page 132
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 9 - From Terminal Exit to Leaving the Airport." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Page 132
Page 133
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 9 - From Terminal Exit to Leaving the Airport." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Page 133
Page 134
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 9 - From Terminal Exit to Leaving the Airport." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Page 134

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132 9.1 Customer Experience The key difference between challenges experienced when leaving the airport versus arriving at the airport is the need to find and often wait for ground transportation. User Needs Survey respondents reported the “lack of accessible transportation” as the biggest obstacle to using ground transportation, followed by “poor service by drivers,” “long wait times,” and “poor directions and signage.” Travelers who have received assistance from a service provider also struggle at this point in their journey as they may receive assistance only to the terminal door or curb outside. They must then manage alone to reach their vehicle or other mode of transport with all of their luggage. ACRP Synthesis 51 addresses long waits for accessible transportation by proposing addi­ tional seating curbside on the Arrivals level. Other identified problems include the physical challenge of loading luggage onto shuttles; difficulty locating the correct shuttle because of multiple service options; and the distance travelers need to walk to reach their vehicle, as well as safety concerns in the parking garage (Mein et al. 2014). 9.2 Moving to the Departure Point The U.S. DOT has provided additional guidance stating that airlines or their subcon­ tractors should assist travelers to reach pick­up points for ground transportation. But in the same FAQ, the agency states that this “does not include parking garages or car rental areas adjacent to an airport terminal” (U.S. Department of Transportation 2009). As a result, travelers who drove themselves or need to pick up a rental car are left without assistance. As mentioned in Chapter 4, some airports such as Seattle–Tacoma International have begun to offer service beyond the main terminal to light rail and parking through a separate contract with a service provider. San Francisco International covers the cost of assistance to and from its CONRAC by picking up that part of the service expense. Travelers simply make the arrangement with their airline. Many curbs at airports are difficult to navigate. Some cities have multiple curbs that are not fully accessible. For example, some lack curb cuts, so passengers must wait in the cross­ walk. Because the Arrivals drive is often located on the lower level of the airport, it is common for curbside pickup areas to have large pillars or other structural support in the middle of the space. This prevents a traveler with a wheelchair or scooter from moving to the zone they need along the middle curb. C H A P T E R 9 From Terminal Exit to Leaving the Airport

From Terminal Exit to Leaving the Airport 133 9.3 Ground Transportation Waiting Areas Travelers who use scheduled ground transportation—such as public buses and shuttle services—often have a waiting period from the time they arrive at the pickup location until the actual pickup time. To accommodate these travelers, some airports have ground transporta­ tion centers or waiting areas. ACRP Report 146: Commercial Ground Transportation at Airports: Best Practices discusses what an ideal ground transportation center should provide, including • An enclosed, heated and air­conditioned waiting area; • A ticket counter for scheduled services; • Limited food and beverage concessions; • Angled parking spaces to enhance customer visibility of the commercial vehicle and to reduce walking distances; and • Airline baggage check­in counters when the center is used for both arriving and departing commercial vehicles (LeighFisher, Inc. et al. 2015). Ground transportation centers can further address the needs of travelers with disabilities by providing appropriate seating, accessible bathrooms, and power outlets throughout the waiting area. Travelers also want to be informed about schedule changes and where and when to meet their transportation. • The Central Bus Station at London Heathrow posts bus schedules on display screens throughout the station, features multiple rows of seating, and provides an on­site conve­ nience store with food and drink for purchase. • At Cincinnati–Northern Kentucky International, the ground transportation center connects to the baggage claim area with transit options including rental cars, hotel shuttles, private vehicles, and public transportation. • Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International’s ground transportation center protects from weather, and there are separate waiting rooms for hotel and rental car shuttles at opposite ends of the drive (Figure 9­1). At some major airports—such as Chicago O’Hare International, Chicago Midway Inter national, New York John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty International—travelers Figure 9-1. Ground Transportation Center with a hotel shuttle waiting area at Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

134 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities can get a wheelchair­accessible taxi simply by going to the taxi stand and asking the taxi starter to pull an accessible vehicle to the front of the line. However, where taxis are not readily available, alternative procedures may be in place. • At Minneapolis–Saint Paul International, travelers can call from an indoor phone dedi­ cated to accessible taxi service. This allows the taxi starter to put in the request before the passenger comes outside. • At Southwest Florida International, the airport’s on­demand taxi fleet has two ADA lift­equipped vehicles. But, the airport recommends that travelers call in advance of their arrival time to ensure a taxi is available. 9.4 Access to Information As discussed in ACRP Report 10: Innovations for Airport Terminal Facilities, there is little infor­ mation available curbside with regard to how long the wait will be for a particular mode of transportation to arrive (Corgan Associates, Inc. 2008). Travelers also require directions to the various vehicle boarding areas, especially when their transportation does not pick up curbside. Clearly marked signage with high­contrast colors and a large font should be displayed as much as possible. Lighting is also critical on lower­level airport drives during daylight hours. With multiple shuttles operating at an airport, travelers can easily become confused about which parking shuttle they should take to their vehicle. Unlike taxis, hotel shuttles do not have a shuttle starter, and it is often difficult even for people without disabilities to see which shuttle is driving past. For travelers with vision loss, the best option is to call the hotel, self­identity as having a disability, and ask the hotel to alert the driver to look for them. Only a few airports have set pickup locations for individual hotel shuttles. In major urban areas, public buses and light rail provide better access to real­time information via websites and apps. This enables travelers who are blind to know, for example, which bus is arriving at a stop even without a voice­based bus identification system. 9.5. Access to Assistance Passengers with disabilities face the same gaps in service in leaving the airport as in arriving. Shuttle buses to remote parking, especially at airports that bring travelers right to the car and help with luggage, may be a better option for individuals with functional limitations than the large parking garage right next to the terminal. Lehigh Valley International in Pennsylvania offers the Walking Into Night Guide Service (W.I.N.G.S.). The program is available from after dusk to late night hours for anyone who feels more comfortable being accompanied to their vehicle in any of the airport’s four parking areas. To arrange a guide, the traveler can call via a courtesy phone, stop by the Passenger Services desk, or put in an advance request online.

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The airport industry has adopted specific design codes in response to state and federal regulatory requirements—including the Americans with Disabilities Act—to accommodate employees and travelers with disabilities. These design codes include general architectural guidelines and technology adapted for transportation facilities.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Research Report 210: Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities outlines innovative solutions to facilitate accessibility for passengers with a variety of physical, sensory, and/or cognitive challenges.

The report includes additional materials, including case-study highlights in Appendix A, a user-needs survey in Appendix B, and a Wayfinding Accessibility Audit Checklist, which also includes a separate introduction.

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