Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
39 4.1 Customer Experience Like the general public, travelers with disabilities use various means of ground transportation to reach the airport: personal vehicles, rides from family or friends, taxis, rideshare (known formally as transportation network companies or TNCs), rental cars, public transport, courtesy shuttles, and so on. However, for the individual traveler, the choices may be limited due to several factors, each of which is discussed in this chapter: â¢ Accessibility of the available modes of transportation; â¢ Location of airport arrival point: curbside or remote; â¢ If remote, distance to walk and/or accessibility of shuttle or automated people mover; â¢ Availability of disability-related assistance and means to request it at the arrival point; and â¢ Availability of assistance with baggage. While the choice of which mode of transport to use may be simple at an individualâs home airport, especially if small or medium-sized, the decision becomes more complex at a large, unfamiliar destination airport. For that reason, full informationâas described in Chapter 3âis critical to enable travelers to determine which mode of transportation will work best for them and to contact the various companies for additional information and reservations. This informa- tion includes details on parking options, airport shuttles or people movers, and access to assistance. Table 4-1 outlines the types of ground transportation used by User Needs survey respon- dents. Dropped off by family or friends is the most common (60.40 percent), followed by driving a personal vehicle and parking at the airport (51.50 percent). Shared ride (app-based transport such as Uber or Lyft), rental car, and taxiâlimousine are each used by approximately a quarter of respondents (26.70 percent to 23.80 percent). Use of paratransit is much more limited (5.90 percent) but can be important for those on a strict budget or where other accessible transportationâsuch as taxi serviceâare unavailable. Whether arriving curbside, in a parking lot or garage, or in a remote rental car center, focus group participants with disabilities reported that the most common challenge was finding assistance upon arrival on airport property. No matter how accessible the airport facility or transportation from the arrival point to the terminal, the travel experience will not be seamless unless the customer has the help required with mobility, navigation, and luggage. How some airports in the U.S. and elsewhere are bridging such gaps in service is addressed later in this chapter, as well as in Chapter 5. Although the ADA became law almost 30 years ago in 1990, equitable access to ground trans- portation remains a problem to such an extent in some parts of the industry that compliance with accessibility and training requirements still seems to be the exception rather than the rule. This inequity makes oversight by airports an important element in facilitating accessibility for C H A P T E R 4 Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation
40 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities their customers with disabilities, including older adults. While this may not seem like an inno- vation, it is a best practice. For this reason, the report includes the following section on industry regulatory requirements. 4.2 Ground Transportation Regulations and Airport Oversight U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) regulations for the various modes of ground transportation are complex and differ based on a number of factors that include â¢ Whether the provider is public or private, â¢ Whether the provider is primarily in ground transportation, â¢ Whether the service is fixed route or demand responsive, and â¢ Type and size of vehicle and whether new or used at lease or purchase. These requirements are summarized in Section 2.7 of FAA Advisory Circular 150/5360-14A: Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities. To help airports better understand ground transportation regulations, the FAA has focused on this topic in recent years at its annual National Civil Rights Training Conference for Airports. Presentations by the FAA Airport Disability Compliance Program and other speakers are available on a dedicated page of the FAA website. As part of its airport audits, the Airport Disability Compliance Program reviews contracts with ground transport providers, inspects facilities and vehicles, and interviews employees. Its staff are also available as an educational resource should questions arise with regard to transportation services and accessibility. U.S. airports are responsible for the compliance of the ground transportation they provide at the airport, using airport staff or contractors, as well as for compliant transit facilities such as bus stops and light rail stations on airport property. Local public transit providers and airports have shared responsibility for making reasonable modifications as required by the ADA. The following three sets of regulations apply to transportation provided by the airport: â¢ U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ADA Regulations: 28 CFR Part 35 and Part 36, â¢ U.S. DOT ADA Regulations: 49 CFR Part 37 and Part 38, and â¢ U.S. DOT Section 504 Regulations: 49 CFR Part 27. Note: Responses total more than 100 percent due to participants providing multiple responses. Table 4-1. User Needs Survey: Types of Ground Transportation Used to Reach the Airport
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 41 Airports that operate fixed-route transportation systems are subject to the requirements in 49 CFR Part 37 for commuter bus service operated by public entities (Federal Aviation Administration 2017). The FAA recommends that contract clauses for airport parking and interterminal shuttles include the following: â¢ Section 504 and ADA compliance; â¢ Termination clause for noncompliance; â¢ Specific Part 37 and Part 38 obligations; and â¢ As a best practice, specific vehicle requirements for accessibility. To ensure compliance, airports are responsible for oversight that includes technical assistance, monitoring, and self-evaluations. Self-evaluations include initial and periodic review of facilities and structures, services, policies, and practices, as well as development of plans to address any deficiencies or service gaps. Both the ADA and Section 504 require that airports provide for the participation of persons with disabilities and organizations representing them in such reviews (Federal Aviation Administration 2017). The Wayfinding Accessibility Audit Checklist from ACRP Research Report 177 includes sections designed to help with this evaluation process and covers best practices, as well as mandatory requirements (Harding et al. 2017). Airport authorities are also responsible for compliance of private ground transportation providers operating with licensing or contractual agreements at the airport. The FAA recom- mends that airports include the following in these contracts: â¢ Section 504 and ADA compliance, â¢ Termination clause for noncompliance, and â¢ Specific citation of Part 37 and Part 38 obligations. Technical assistance and monitoring by the airport operator are important to ensure compli- ance. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport has a âSecret Rider Programâ that includes individuals with disabilities who test the accessibility and quality of service from shared-ride vans, courtesy parking vans, and other ground transportation providers. The FAA created a chart (Figure 4-1) to help airports determine the accessibility require- ments for each type of private transportation provider based on the characteristics listed at the beginning of this section (Federal Aviation Administration 2016b). In addition to accessibility, the importance of training for drivers and frontline personnel cannot be overstated. Training requirements under 49 CFR Part 37.173 mandate âtraining to proficiencyâ in both technical and customer service skills, including disability awareness: Each public or private entity which operates a fixed route or demand responsive system shall ensure that personnel are trained to proficiency, as appropriate to their duties, so that they operate vehicles and equipment safely and properly assist and treat individuals with disabilities who use the service in a respectful and courteous way, with appropriate attention to the difference among individuals with disabilities. In 2016, Philadelphia International Airport included shuttle drivers and parking employees in disability awareness training classes taught by Open Doors Organization. At Denver Inter- national Airport, managers from airside and landsideâincluding managers from parking and ground transportationâattended the ACI Accommodating Passengers with Disabilities Workshop, which included a disability awareness module and an overview of regulatory require- ments. San Francisco International Airport requires a full day of disability-related training for all badged employees.
Figure 4-1. Requirements for accessible ground transportation vehiclesâprivate operators (Source: Federal Aviation Administration 2016b).
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 43 4.3 Public Transportation 4.3.1 Transit Buses Public buses were one of the first forms of transportation to partner with airports, making access easier and cheaper for travelers and employees. Public bus stops are typically located on Arrivals or Departures levels at airport terminals. Many airports offer this convenience, including Ronald Reagan Washington National, Philadelphia International, Miami Inter- national, MinneapolisâSaint Paul International, Denver International, SeattleâTacoma International, Newark Liberty International, and New York LaGuardia. However, the distance to check-in may still be long for some and difficult to navigate if located on an outer curb. Where the airport has a centralized bus station, as at Chicago OâHare or London Heathrow, the distance to terminals may be quite far. In either case, it is a best practice to have luggage carts available nearby. Under federal and state guidelines (i.e., ADA, Section 504, and local codes), these stops and stations should always have a ramp, curb cut, or level access to accommodate individuals who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. The path of travel to the terminal must also be accessible. Unlike the DOJ 2010 Standards, U.S. DOT ADA Standards for transportation facilities mandate detectable warnings at curb ramps to improve safety and accessibility for persons with vision loss. Accessible loading zones every continuous 100 linear feetârather than just one per terminalâare also required (Section 202.2.1). This standard is proving difficult for some airports to meet on upper roadways due to structural limitations. Transit buses, required to be 100 percent wheelchair accessible, increasingly have low floors that enable quick and easy access via ramp for individuals who use mobility devices. Depending on the locality, transit buses may have an automated stop announcement system coordinated with on-board LED signage to accommodate individuals with hearing loss. The GPS tech- nology required by this system also enables development of real-time apps for bus tracking, now available in major urban areas such as Chicago and New York. Mobile applications and other technology that allow passengers with vision loss to know which bus is approaching a stop is discussed in Chapter 9. 4.3.2 Light Rail and Rail Service Growth in construction and use of light rail across the U.S. and Canada has been steady. More and more cities are connecting their airport directly to the downtown area to create affordable and sustainable transportation. The Minneapolis METRO Blue Line connects MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport to 17 destinationsâincluding the Mall of Americaâand is free for travel between the two airport terminal stations. This is similar to the Heathrow Express that runs at no charge between London Heathrow terminals. Because the walk between the terminals and the METRO Blue Line is long, MinneapolisâSaint Paul International also provides a free accessible shuttle between the two terminals for travelers with disabilities. The Denver Regional Transportation District Light Rail station at Denver International is close to the main terminal but one level down. A short portion of the route crosses an outdoor plaza that can be difficult during the inclement weather that often hits the region, but assistance is available along with remote check-in and bag drop (described in later sections of this chapter). Figure 4-2 shows the platform and train at Denver International and illustrates how the newest light rail systems can achieve a narrow gap between the platform and the train. Also shown is the detectable warning strip required on platforms by U.S. DOT ADA standards.
44 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Built in 1988, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Light Rail airport station is one level up by elevator from baggage claim at HartsfieldâJackson Atlanta International, with nearby connections for the AirTrain to the Rental Car Center and for the shuttle bus to the International Terminal. Luggage carts are available on the station platform. Phoenix Sky Harbor SkyTrain connects to the Valley Metro Rail at 44th and Washington streets, a longer distance as the Valley Metro Rail Station is not directly on airport property. This is a newer, very accessible system built to current ADA standards. San Francisco International Airport has a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station at the International Terminal that is accessed via the AirTrain, which connects all terminals and the consolidated rental car center (CONRAC). BART trains also have a narrow gap between the platform and trains. BARTâs passenger app provides real-time departure information, service advisories, and the ability to save favorite trips and stations, as well as a new multimodal trip planner that covers 31 transit operators in the Bay Area. New York Area airports John F. Kennedy and Newark have AirTrains that connect to local rail stations. At Kennedy, travelers can access two New York City Metropolitan Transporta- tion Authority subway stations, as well as the Long Island Railroad Station at Jamaica. The Newark Liberty International Airport Station serves both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. An AirTrain connection to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority system is also planned for LaGuardia. In Los Angeles, plans are under way to bring the light rail from downtown to Los Angeles International Airport. The multimodal transportation hub, which will include a bus station and a CONRAC, will be located a mile from the airport and connected by an automated people mover. Orlando International Airport is exploring the potential of connecting the SunRail to the airport. However, there are concerns about the need for the train to operate 24 hours a day. Light rail systems typically have their own websites and mobile applications to provide passengers with real-time information about the train schedule. Newer systems also have auto- mated stop announcements and LED signage. Figure 4-2. Light rail station and car at Denver International Airport.
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 45 4.3.3 Paratransit Under the ADA, public entities operating fixed-route transit systems must also provide complementary paratransit service to passengers who, because of a physical or mental disabilityâ permanent or temporaryâare unable to use the public bus system (49 CFR 37.123). As airports are required to have accessible loading zones curbside on each terminal roadway, drop off by paratransit is not a concern. But paratransit services require a specific pickup location at the time of reservation, making it important for airports to designate accessible pickup points at each terminal. Individuals with disabilities already registered for paratransitâor who have documentation to show that they are eligibleâmay apply for visitor status in other cities or localities. Even for those not on a strict budget, the ability to use paratransit in other localities can help to fill the gap where other accessible modes of transportation are not available or are in short supply. Sufficient lead time and advance planning are required. 4.4 Private Transportation 4.4.1 Taxis Taxi companies operate at nearly all airports in the United States, using designated taxi load- ing and unloading zones. They may also be permitted to use the accessible loading zones when transporting passengers with disabilities. However, outside of major urban areas, wheelchair- accessible taxis or some alternative service may be limited and require long waits or advance reservation. The relationship between the taxi industry and an airport only extends to taxis operating on airport property. However, in the interests of its customers with disabilities, an airport may want to consider working with local authorities to increase the availability of accessible transportation. There is no federal requirement that taxi companies purchase or lease accessible automobiles. Therefore, it is up to local authorities to act to increase accessible taxi service for their citizens. A common regulatory approach is to require that a minimum percentage of a taxicab companyâs fleet be wheelchair accessible. For example, the Minneapolis Taxicab Ordi- nance requires 10 percent of each existing and new company taxicab licenses to be wheelchair accessible (Minneapolis Department of Regulatory Services 2011). TRB Special Report 319: Between Public and Private Mobility: Examining the Rise of Technology- Enabled Transportation Services offers a detailed discussion of the various mandatory requirements and incentive programs that major cities have implemented to create and sustain accessible taxi service. These requirements and incentives are designed to overcome the higher costs and lower productivity inherent to accessible service, specifically âthe cost of acquiring and operating accessible vehicles, including fuel and maintenance expenses, higher insurance premiums, the need for special driver training, and lower productivity due to the extra time involved in serving customers in wheelchairsâ (Kartum 2016). Such measures include the following: â¢ A requirement of a certain percentage of accessible fleet cabs, â¢ Grants and tax incentives for vehicle purchase, â¢ Relaxed vehicle age limits, â¢ Reduced licensing fees, â¢ Passes to allow drivers to skip to the front of queues at airport taxi stands, and â¢ Sales of medallion licenses that may be used only with accessible vehicles. In addition, several citiesâincluding Chicago and New Yorkâhave created a centralized dispatch service for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. In Chicago, Open Taxisâa division of
46 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Open Doors Organizationâoperates the centralized dispatch service. Between 2013 and early 2019, the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis/vehicles (WAVs) increased from a little more than 100 to nearly 350, providing individuals with disabilities with on-demand accessible transportation in the Chicago metropolitan area. To encourage this increase, the City of Chicago employs most of the measures listed above. Any single licensee who owns or controls 20 or more vehicles must place into service WAVs as 5 percent of the taxi fleet, while each non-WAV medallion owner must pay $22 a month into the Accessibility Fund. As incentives, that fund offers a subsidy for each new WAV of $20,000. WAV owners may also apply for an extension of the mandatory vehicle age limit. Chicago WAV drivers are eligible for the annual WAV Public Chauffeur Excellence Award, which includes a free medallion. But, the most important incentive for drivers is a program that provides vouchers to access the short taxi lane at OâHare and Chicago Midway International Airport. A voucher is earned for every fare a WAV driver accepts and completes from the Open Taxis dispatch software. Other provisions are the city governmentâs requirements that WAVs have passenger-side rather than rear-entry ramps and that the centralized dispatch service conduct specialized WAV driver training (City of Chicago 2018). Designed and built in the U.S. by Mobility Ventures, the MV-1 is the only vehicle created specifically for wheelchair accessibility (Figure 4-3). The passenger in the wheelchair sits next to the driver, an important advantage over rear-entry vehicles that allows easy com- munication. Other passengers in the MV-1 ride on a bench seat that can accommodate up to three people. Chicago also subsidizes riders with disabilities through its Taxi Access Program (TAP). Chicago Regional Transportation Authority Paratransit customers may purchase $3 TAP vouchers to pay for one-way taxi rides up to $20 and make four such rides per day. For more convenience, TAP participants may register online and set up an account through Pace public transportation for a TAP swipe card connected to a Visa or MasterCard. Cash and check purchases are available for customers without credit cards. In New York City, the Transportation Improvement Fund that subsidizes the purchase of WAVs is supported by a 30-cent surcharge on each ride rather than by medallion owners. Instead of a voucher system, the Taxi and Limousine Commission uses an incentive program that includes a dispatch fee of $15 for less than .5 miles up to $35 for longer trips. WAV drivers receive $10 for no-shows and for any tolls paid before pickup. New York City has mandated that half of the new vehicles put into service as medallion cabs be accessible, with the goal of Figure 4-3. Chicago MV-1 WAV dispatched by Open Taxis.
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 47 50 percent or more of its taxicab fleet wheelchair accessible this year (Transportation Research Board 2016). Taxicabs may also have technologies or features designed for persons with sensory disabilities. Like London Black Cabs, New York City taxis have hearing loops to improve communication for riders whose hearing aid or cochlear implant has a t-coil. These induction audio loopsâ also available in New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway ticket boothsâ transmit the speakerâs voice directly to the assistive device, eliminating background noise. In addition to mandatory Braille and tactile signage for persons with vision loss, some taxis in New York City and Chicago have audible credit card processing equipment that announces the fare during the ride and can assist with payment. In Chicago, installation of this technology is subsidized by the Accessibility Fund. Figure 4-4 shows the screen in a New York City taxicab with the audio feature activated. To better compete with TNCs, New York City taxis now have two types of ride-hailing apps: ARRO for yellow cabs in Manhattan and Curb for green cabs in the other boroughs. These work much the same as TNC apps and allow subscribers to enter credit card information in advance, a feature especially valued by riders with vision loss or limited use of hands or arms. With Curb, passengers can also book 24 hours in advance. A major advantage with ARRO is that there is no surge pricing (Schubach 2017). ARRO and Curb are now available in other cities nationwide. 4.4.2 Transportation Network Companies Like Uber and Lyft, TNCs are the newest mode of transportation to desire access to the nationâs airports. TNCs are technology-enabled mobility service companies that use apps to link drivers and their personal vehicles. They are also referred to as ride share or ridesharing companies, although the sharing is typically sequential rather than concurrent as in UberPool and Lyft Line, where a number of strangers ride together and split the cost of a trip. Signage at airports may also refer to TNCs as ride app companies. Because TNCs are new to the airport landscape, many airports have yet to commit to long-term designated pickup zones. There are logistical issues about the location of pickup areas, but they are most often in parking garages, at curbside, and near the end of taxi zones. Figure 4-4. Fare screen with audio features in a New York City taxicab.
48 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Drop off is usually curbside at terminals, offering the same convenience as taxis, although this, too, may change as airports act to decongest their roadways. AustinâBergstrom is an example of an airport that has moved TNC pickup from curbside to a more remote location, specifically on the other side of the parking garage in the rental car pickup area. Taxi service has also been relocated there. In addition, the airport has created a TNC staging area with a first-in, first-out system and detailed directions online for drivers. To help travelers with reduced mobility or who need assistance with luggage reach the new pickup point, AustinâBergstrom provides electric cart service. Videos showing the path of travel from upper and lower levels of the terminal are posted on the airport website. Massachusetts Port Authority officials are considering moving pickup and drop-off locations for Uber and Lyft to the central garage at Boston Logan International Airport. They may also raise the airport pickup fee charged to TNC passengers. Their concern is not just with traffic congestion but also with the decrease in ridership of public transportation, including Logan Express bus service (WCVB 2019). Rather than discouraging TNC ridership, LaGuardia recognizes its importance for airport customers. In February 2019, LaGuardia opened the first Uber Rider Center in North America. Located on the Departures level of Terminal B next to a new Starbucks and a bar, the mini- lounge has phone-charging stations and a limited amount of seating. Uber representatives are on hand to assist with booking rides and to direct passengers to the pickup area, located just across a pedestrian bridge in the parking garage (Prosperi 2019). One of the many controversies surrounding TNCs is the lack of accessible transportation in the industry. An additional concern expressed in TRB Special Report 319 is that TNCs may unfavorably impact local taxi service and, in particular, accessible service, since âWAVs cost more to acquire, operate, and insure; require additional training for drivers; and have lower productivity due to the additional time required to accommodate riders in wheelchairs.â The author, therefore, suggests that: Given the importance of accessibility for all users (which is frequently operationalized in terms of vehicles that can accommodate wheelchairs), policy makers and regulators should address the potential disparity between access for people with various disabilities and other travelers as these new services expand (Kartum 2016). According to ACRP Report 146, âAirport operators have not included any accessibility requirements as part of their TNC permit applications, relying instead on the requirements set by the state and city regulatorsâ (LeighFisher, Inc. et al. 2015). One exception is Phoenix Sky Harbor, which worked with the City of Phoenix Aviation Department to change the PHX Ground Transportation Operating Requirements. When unable to fulfill a WAV request on demand, TNCs operating at Phoenix Sky Harbor are required to provide a WAV within 30 minutes of the request. The TNC must make the arrangement with one of the authorized providers listed on the airport website (City of Phoenix Aviation Department 2016). In late 2018, Uber teamed up with MV Transportationâa multicity paratransit firmâto provide WAV service in Boston; Chicago; New York; Philadelphia; Toronto; and Washington, DC. MV will supply drivers and WAVs, while trips will be arranged through the Uber app. Fares will be equivalent to UberX. While more expensive than paratransit, the on-demand service will be available 24 hours/7 days a week with potentially short wait times. How well this partnership will work remains to be seen. In Chicago, Uber and Lyft have for several years used Open Taxisâthe cityâs centralized wheelchair-accessible taxi dispatch serviceâto accommodate passengers who need WAVs. Open Doors Organization has also worked with both companies on disability-related training programs for drivers of WAV and non-WAV vehicles, since most individuals with disabilities
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 49 can use standard automobiles. This includes many people who use manual wheelchairs and smaller scooters and have the ability to self-transfer to a car seat. However, the driver must be able and willing to store the mobility device in the rear seat or trunk, when space allows. While this is mandatory for taxicab service under ADA Part 37 requirements, people who use manual wheelchairs have long complained that standard taxicabs routinely pass them by. TNCs have been in the spotlight for refusing to accept service animals, but complaints over the years indicate that taxis have been no less discriminatory, although this is harder to prove without an app that records driver identity. TNC services do offer benefits for those with vision loss. The apps are accessible to those using iOS VoiceOver or Android TalkBack, allow an individual to hail a vehicle without seeing it, and offer cashless transactions. The driver is not informed of the disability before accepting the ride (Transportation Research Board 2016). Riders who are deaf can also communicate with the driver by text; at least, when the vehicle is stopped. 4.4.3 Shared-Ride Vans Shared-ride vans provide multistop service between the airport and passenger destinations (i.e., hotels, residences, or businesses) in the surrounding area. Well-known shuttle companies that operate in multiple airports nationwide include SuperShuttle and GO Airport Shuttle. To operate at the airport, they must have authorization from the airport authority or other governing body, which exercises oversight with regard to ADA vehicle accessibility and service requirements, including disability-related training. One example is the âSecret Rider Programâ at Houston George Bush Intercontinental, mentioned earlier. Typically, shared-ride shuttles have designated drop off and pickup points at each terminal. These locations must have adequate space to operate accessible lifts and ramps, with special attention paid to curb heights and curb cut locations as well as accessible paths of travel to terminals. 4.4.4 Courtesy Shuttles Courtesy shuttles at airports are provided by rental car companies, parking lot businesses, and hotels and motels located near the airport, as well as other types of businesses such as casinos. Service may be provided on a scheduled (fixed-route) or on-demand basis and in vehicles of different types and sizes from vans of eight seats or lessâtypical of hotelsâto full-size buses. As these private companies are not primarily in the business of transporting people, they are covered by a separate set of requirements with regard to purchase or lease of accessible vehicles under U.S. DOT Part 37 regulations (Â§37.101). For fixed-route service, vehicles with a capacity of more than 16 passengers (including the driver) must be accessible, while those with a capacity of 16 and under must be accessible unless âthe system in its entirety meets the standard for equivalent serviceââdescribed in Â§37.105âand which, most importantly in this instance, includes âschedule/response time.â To meet this standard, âvirtually all vehicles acquired for fixed-route service must be accessibleâ (U.S. Department of Justice 2016). For on-demand service, vehicles, regardless of size, must be accessible unless the overall system meets the same high equivalent service standard (U.S. Department of Justice 2016). As any traveler in a wheelchair who has tried to use hotel courtesy shuttles knows, accessible or equivalent service is virtually nonexistent at U.S. airports. A 2018 article by John Morris on his Wheelchair Travel website described his experiences, which included long waits, miscommu- nications, being sent an inaccessible vehicle, and being denied service altogether (Morris 2018). Members of the ACRP research team had similar experiences during this project.
50 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Like other modes of transportation operating at airports, courtesy shuttles of all types pay fees for the privilege and are subject to airport oversight. In general, oversight consists primarily of determining locations for pickup and drop off, rather than checking whether travelers with disabilities are receiving equitable service. Hotel courtesy shuttles at Los Angeles International Airport have become more accessible because of a city initiative to reduce air pollution by consolidating the service. Destination Shuttle Services currently serves 13 area hotels with buses, a number of which have lifts. The service also provides real-time information on arrival times for its various routes, available online and on screens installed on board and at the hotels. With regard to design of pickup and drop-off locations, these buses must have adequate space for the operation of accessible lifts and ramps, with special attention paid to curb heights and curb cut locations, as well as accessible paths of travel. Accessibility can be especially problematic on raised islands between inner and outer roadways where these shuttles often operate. At locations other than terminal curbs, directional signage may be needed. Some airports like Newark and New York Kennedy have moved courtesy shuttles to a remote location reachable only by AirTrain, making it difficult for travelers who require assistance with mobility, navigation, or luggage. However, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey provides airport ambassadorsâidentified by their red coatsâat each AirTrain station to assist with directions and to call for assistance. 4.4.5 Motorcoaches Motorcoachesâalso called over-the-road buses if they have an elevated passenger compart- ment located over a baggage compartmentâhave separate regulatory requirements under 49 CFR Part 37 and Part 38. Companies that regularly serve the airport will have designated areas to accommodate the large vehicles and the large number of passengers. This arrangement is more typical at airports in major metropolitan areas (such as SeattleâTacoma International, Miami International, and Vancouver International) and/or near popular tourist destinations (such as Orlando International), especially those near cruise ports. Designated pickup and drop-off points should allow enough room for the vehicles to maneuver, for clear space for lifts, and for access to curb cuts or level entry to the boarding area. Often, the extra space needed means that such locations are at either the far end of the terminalâas at Orlando International Airportâor the far side of the parking garage, as at SeattleâTacoma International Airport. Intercity busesâsuch as Greyhoundâwith airport station stops also have designated pickup and drop-off locations. However, chartered buses that do not visit an airport on a regular basis usually must disembark passengers curbside. This can lead to problems with security officers as extra dwell time is needed if the driver has to deploy the wheelchair lift or assist a number of older passengers with mobility challenges and who need help with luggage. Figure 4-5 shows a passenger disembarking a Greyhound bus and an accessible Disney Magical Express bus in a parking bay at Orlando International Airport. The lift door on the latter is near the rear of the vehicle. The new MCI D45 CRT LE bilevel motorcoach (Figure 4-6) eliminates the need for a lift by providing two wheelchair positions on the lower level accessed via a second midcoach door and below-floor ramp. Designed in conjunction with the National Center for Independent Living, it offers the following advantages to the disability community and to the bus industry: â¢ Increased number of seatsâ52 in addition to the two wheelchair positions; â¢ Faster boarding for able-bodied passengers through two doors;
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 51 â¢ Safer, easier boarding of passengers using wheelchairs or other mobility devices; and â¢ An end to lift breakdowns, as well as failures due to poor driver training. The motorcoach has already undergone trials by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority as part of its express bus service. 4.5 Airport-Provided Transportation As discussed in Section 4.2, airports in the United States must ensure that the transportation systems they own and manage are accessible for individuals with disabilities. These systems typically include shuttle vans and buses between terminals and to various on-site parking lots and garages, as well as to CONRACs (discussed in Section 4.6). Figure 4-5. Greyhound over-the-road bus with lift (left) and Disney Magical Express bus at Orlando International Airport (right). Figure 4-6. MCI D45 CRT LE with ramp and lower-level wheelchair positions (Source: Motor Coach Industries).
52 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities A lift-equipped parking shuttle at CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International Airport takes passengers to and from the airportâs ValuPark lot (Figure 4-7). For the convenience of older passengers and those with disabilities, the driver picks up and drops off passengers at their vehicles and assists with luggage. Large hub airports with multiple terminals and parking facilities are increasingly replacing such shuttle vehicles with automated people movers, described in Section 4.3.2. Automated people movers can link airports in an efficient and sustainable way to their city and region, as well as to remote facilities on site. But the usability of these systems for individuals with functional limitations depends on the types of assistance, if any, available at each point in their journey from home or hotel to the airport and then to the terminal. The accessibility of the transportation itself is only half of the equation for many of these travelers. Automated people movers, by definition, eliminate staff who can help with bags or call someone to assist with a wheelchair, which makes these systems a less suitable mode of transportation for those who rely on help. Best practice solutions to bridge service gaps are discussed later in this chapter. One new type of transportation that shows promise but has not yet caught on at other airports is the personal rapid transit (PRT) system at London Heathrow that links the Business Car Park and Terminal 5, a distance of 2.4 miles. PRTsâalso called pod carsâfeature battery-powered, driverless vehicles that run on specially built guideways and offer rapid point-to-point service to a requested destination with less wait time. These small-scale transport systems are much less expensive to build than automated people movers, and they have been used in urban areas in the United States, most successfully in Morgantown, West Virginia. PRTs are being considered in numerous international locations as an option for âlast-mile connectivityâ to replace bus service, although PRTs, too, may be made obsolete by fully autono- mous transport pods like those from NEXT Future Transportation, which were tested in 2018 by Dubaiâs Roads and Transport (Galeon 2018). The company even envisions clearing travelers and their bags through Security while en route to the airport in fleets of pods (International Airport Review October 23, 2018b). Designed by Ultra Global PRT, the PRT system at London Heathrow was installed in 2011 and by 2015 had carried 1.6 million passengers and traveled 2.1 million vehicle miles (Holdcroft 2015). The 21 pods, which seat six people with bags, are user friendly and wheel- chair accessible. The PRT touch screen (Figure 4-8) at pod station kiosks has a hearing loop and Figure 4-7. Airport parking shuttle at Cincinnatiâ Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 53 buttons for communicating verbally with the staffed control room and for disability-related assistance. The pod can also be controlled remotely. Videos of the Heathrow pods in action are available on YouTube. 4.6 Adjacent and Remote Parking All but the smallest airports have multiple options for parking and accessible parkingâ including short-term and long-term lots and garagesâlocated adjacent to terminals or located remotely and serviced by shuttle vans, buses, or automated people movers. For extra conve- nience, valet parking may also be available. Newly built or renovated parking lots and structures are required to adhere to 2010 ADA Standards of Accessible Design. Changes in the 2010 standards that directly impact parking include the following: â¢ One in every six accessible parking spaces must be van accessible, increased from one in eight; and â¢ All direct connections from parking structures to another facility are required to be accessible; 1991 standards required only one. Many of the following parking innovations now available at U.S. airports benefit all travelers; not just those with disabilities: â¢ Advance reservation and payment, either online or via the airport app (as mentioned in Chapter 3); â¢ Real-time updates on parking availability, although most do not include accessible spaces; â¢ Hands-free payment using automatic vehicle identification transponders for tollways (e.g., Floridaâs SunPass Plus, which is valid at Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa airports); â¢ Smart parking guidance systems that show the number of available spacesâincluding accessible spacesâand that use directional signage and green lights to lead parkers to open spaces (e.g., the Park Assist at Portland International Airport); Figure 4-8. Pod kiosk (left) and pods in motion at London Heathrow (right) (Source: Ultra Global PRT).
54 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities â¢ Smart parking car-finding systems to help customers retrieve the location via an app or kiosk; and â¢ Car-finding systems that rely on QR codes mounted in the car park and that the customer can scan before heading to the terminal. Valet parking can benefit older travelers and people with mobility limitations who can afford to pay extra for the service, since the drop-off location is usually curbside at the terminal. At Portland International Airport, passengers can ask the valet to request wheelchair service. Airports may make other arrangements to accommodate travelers who cannot pull a ticket due to upper body limitations. At Fort LauderdaleâHollywood International Airport, the ADA parking access feature allows vehicle information to be recorded via speakerphone and remote camera so that parking charges can be calculated upon exit. For travelers who need to use their accessible parking placard on their trip but wish to leave their car or van in an accessible space, Boston Logan International Airport allows them to register the placard at the Parking Office in the Central Parking Garage before leaving. At London Heathrow, travelers must show their blue badge to the car park operator, who can be called via a help point at the car park entry machine or a help point phone. Such thoughtful accommodations cost little but show real understanding of customer needs. In ACRP Synthesis 51: Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports, a lack of available luggage carts in parking garages was noted as an obstacle for older travelers but can be a problem for anyone trying to manage both carry-on and checked baggage (Mein et al. 2014). Solutions such as remote check-in, bag drop, and baggage delivery services, as well as access to disability-related assistance from parking lots and garages, are discussed later in this chapter. 4.7 Rental Car Facilities Rental car facilities in small and medium-sized airports are typically located in or adjacent to terminals, which makes dropping off a car and checking in quick and easy. However, at large airports these facilities are now moving to locations far away from the terminal and even off property, requiring travelers to use a secondary mode of transportationâeither shuttle buses or automated people moversâand to spend more time and effort in reaching the terminal. Some of these facilitiesâas at San Francisco, SeattleâTacoma, and Tampa airportsâare solely CONRACs. Othersâsuch as Miami and Chicago OâHareâare intermodal transportation centers that also accommodate transit buses, light rail, intercity buses, and so on. As these transportation facilities tend to be very large and complex, good design is important. These centers must have accessible restrooms built to 2010 ADA standards, and amenities such as counters and seating areas must also be in compliance. Common-use kiosks should meet Air Carrier Access Act and ADA requirements. Additional access features include elevators located close to where passengers will turn in vehicles, well-marked shuttle drop-off and pickup zones, and good directional signage to terminals and other areas. While luggage carts and wheelchairs are usually available, there are usually no dedicated staff on hand to assist customers with functional limitations. However, major car rental companies install adaptive driving equipment, such as hand controls, pedal extenders, left foot accelerators, and spinner knobs. Advance notice of 24 hours is normally required, but often as little as 8-hours notice is required at major airport locations. However, fully accessible vans with ramps are typically unavailable and must be ordered from specialized firms (e.g., members of Accessible Vans of America).
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 55 In SeattleâTacoma, the airport uses accessible buses for shuttle service to its CONRAC (Figure 4-9), and its bus drivers are trained to assist individuals with disabilities in accordance with ADA regulations. This training includes safe and proper operation of the lift or ramp, wheelchair securement devices, and assistance with luggage, if needed. Generally, bus shuttles to CONRACs or multimodal transportation centers are available only until an automated people mover is constructed. For example, Tampa International Airport recently inaugurated its automated people mover, and an extension of Chicago OâHareâs Airport Transit System is in the planning stage. Automated people movers help to reduce roadway congestion and vehicle emissions, but they may be less convenient for passengersâespecially when managing both carry-on and checked baggageâbecause the distance to reach the auto- mated people movers at each end can be long. Moving walkways can help but are not suitable for many individuals with mobility limitations or people using luggage carts. The route to navigate may also be complex. 4.8 Remote Baggage Check-In and Delivery Remote check-in and bag drop services have been well received by travelers. While these services do not address all assistance needs, they do enable some customers to manage on their own after eliminating the burden of checking baggage. The following airports offer the service: â¢ The first airport to introduce off-airport baggage drop, Las Vegas McCarran International has remote check-in and bag drop at nine locationsâprimarily major resortsâcasinos but also the Las Vegas Convention Center. â¢ At Tampaâs new CONRAC, passengers use accessible kiosks to print boarding passes and bag tags and then drop the bags off at the counter before boarding the SkyConnect automated people mover. Managed by Bags, Inc., the service processes more than 1,000 bags per day, according to the airport website (Tampa International Airport 2019). â¢ Bags, Inc. provides free bag drop and check-in service at the Transit Center and Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert shuttle lots at Denver International. â¢ At Orlando International, travelers using the parking garages adjacent to the main terminalâ which is also where rental car companies are locatedâcan check in and drop their bags before walking through the connecting tunnel (Figure 4-10). Figure 4-9. Port of Seattle CONRAC shuttle bus with ramp.
56 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities â¢ Remote check-in and bag drop are also available in the lobbies of Disney Resort Hotels so that guests can travel luggage free on the Disney Magical Express buses to Orlando International. Arriving air passengers can enjoy the same convenience and have their luggage picked up from baggage claim and delivered to their hotels. â¢ Cruise passengers connecting to flights at Fort LauderdaleâHollywood International, Miami International, SeattleâTacoma International, and Vancouver International also benefit from early bag drop at the port or on arriving at the airport, where airline representatives meet the shuttle buses. â¢ Hong Kong International Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport offer check-in and baggage drop services at downtown train stations. Travelers heading to the airport can check their luggage before boarding the train. In London, airports will check in and pick up luggage from a private address. At the airport, the client must then reclaim the bag and drop it off at the carrier. London Heathrow and Gatwick have facilities where passengers can hand in their luggage for delivery within a 100-mile radius. In the United States, Bags VIP offers luggage delivery service for passengers arriving on domestic flights. This serviceâavailable at several hundred locationsâis even more convenient, since the bags are collected directly from baggage claim (Bags 2017). 4.9 Assistance from Arrival Point The various modes of ground transportation to a given airport may deliver a passenger to any number of locations, some quite remote from terminal curbside and check-in. If disability- related assistance is then needed, what are the travelerâs options? In Europe, Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 (the regulatory equivalent of the Air Carrier Access Act) mandates the following: [t]he managing body of an airport shall, taking account of local conditions, designate points of arrival and departure within the airport boundary or at a point under the direct control of the managing body, both inside and outside terminal buildings, at which disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility can, with ease, announce their arrival at the airport and request assistance. A further requirement is that these points of arrival and departure âbe clearly signed and shall offer basic information about the airport, in accessible formatsâ [Regulation (EC) 1107/2006]. Figure 4-10. Early bag drop in garage at Orlando International Airport.
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 57 As a result, help points are installed not only at terminal curbsides but also at airport bus and train stations, as well as in parking garages near accessible parking spaces (Figure 4-11). By contrast, Part 382 regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act limit the assistance services that airlines are required to provide to helping passengers in making connections to another flight and [i]n moving from the terminal entrance (or a vehicle drop-off point adjacent to the entrance) through the airport to the gate for a departing flight, or from the gate to the terminal entrance (or a vehicle pick-up point adjacent to the entrance after an arriving flight). In the subsequent document âAnswers to Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Air Travel of People with Disabilities under the Amended Air Carrier Access Act Regulation,â the U.S. DOT stated in No. 28 that âTerminal entranceâ refers to the area where passengers can directly enter a terminal after arriving by ground transportation, which could include by automobile or other means of public transportation, such as by bus, train, or subway. It does not include parking garages or car rental areas adjacent to an airport terminal (U.S. Department of Transportation 2009). The U.S. DOT went on to clarify that there is also no requirement to install a means of requesting assistance where airline employees are not present at the arrival point. Passengers arriving at a terminal entrance where an airline has no employees (neither its own nor contractors on its behalf) at the curbside or other vehicle drop-off point (e.g., a subway walkway directly connecting the subway facility to an airport terminal entrance) are responsible for entering the terminal (or having an individual do so on his or her behalf) to request assistance from his or her airline. Although not required by our rules, carriers are encouraged to consider the feasibility of installing a well-marked telephone or other means by which airline passengers can contact the appropriate airline in such situations (U.S. Department of Transportation 2009). The result is that travelers with disabilities find themselves limited in the types of transporta- tion they can use, especially now that arrival points are becoming increasingly remote. Even Figure 4-11. Help points at the London Underground station (left) and garage at Heathrow (right).
58 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities driving to the airport in a personal vehicle or being dropped off by a family member or friend can present a problem for those who are severely disabled. A growing number of U.S. airports have recognized that this customer segment is experienc- ing gaps in service and have come up with a variety of best practice solutions. These solutions range from providing detailed information onlineâas described in Chapter 3âto installing call buttons and contracting additional services to bridge the various gaps. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport has comprehensive information on its website that includes contact information for airlines, as well as a list of each airlineâs service provider and phone number. Travelers can contact the service provider when they arrive at the Departures curb or upon arrival at the Ground Transportation Center. BaltimoreâWashington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and a growing number of other U.S. airports post similar details. Quad City International, a small airport that manages assistance services, posts a mobile phone number online to which travelers can text âskycapâ when they arrive curbside or in the parking lot across from the terminal. The skycap then texts back if they are available or will need time to finish assisting another customer before coming to the location indicated. At Indianapolis International Airport, a call button for wheelchair assistance (Figure 4-12) is located on the secondary drive between the parking garage and the Ground Transportation Center near the drop-off location for paid shuttle buses. Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport, which manages assistive services, has push button call boxes (Figure 4-12) in its parking garage and the elevator lobbies of the pedestrian sky bridges that link the garage to the terminal. In large hub airports where multiple service providers work for a long list of carriers, a single call button will not work as it would in smaller airports or in Europe, where even major airportsâsuch as London Heathrow and London Gatwickâmay have only one company Figure 4-12. Call buttons at Indianapolis International Airport (left) and Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport (right).
Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation 59 assisting passengers with disabilities. The solution at Denver International was to create a âWheelchair Assistance Phoneâ with a list of carriers and the single-digit number to call to reach their service company (Figure 4-13). There is also seating available while the customer waits. Although the phone does not accommodate travelers with sensory disabilities, staff are often close at hand to assist as the remote check-in and bag drop facility is next door. To ensure that travelers who use the San Francisco International Airport CONRAC receive the assistance they need, the airport covers the cost of the service provider between the rental car facility and check-in for departing passengers and between baggage claim and the CONRAC for arriving passengers. It is the travelerâs responsibility to make arrangements through their airline. SeattleâTacoma International offers electric cart service between the mezzanine level of the light rail station and the entrance to the skybridge that links the parking garage to the main terminal, greatly reducing the walking distance (Figure 4-14). SeattleâTacoma also provides wheelchair ser- vice from the light rail station and parking garage to check-in and posts the phone number for Pros- pect Airport Services (the contracted service provider) on signs in both locations, as well as online. These best practice solutions at San Francisco International and SeattleâTacoma Inter- national are similar to the approach used by the International Terminal at Tokyo Haneda. By assuming responsibility for all assistance prior to check-in, the Haneda service model puts an end to the confusion that departing passengers face in the United States and Canada. The airport provides assistance from any arrival point, including the train station, other ground transportation providers, and parking garages. After Haneda staff accompany the traveler to the airlineâs check-in counter, the airline assumes responsibility for the service through Security and to the gate. Arriving passengers can also rely on airport assistance from the arrival lobby to parking or ground transportation. Reservations for the free airport service can be made on the Tokyo Haneda International Terminal website. Portland International takes yet another approach, requiring airlines at the airport to cover assistance to and from the parking garage and valet parking. The Portland International Figure 4-13. Wheelchair assistance phone (left) and reserved seating at Denver International Airport Transit Center (right).
60 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities website provides details on what the traveler should tell the airline when making the requestâ including the number of bags the passenger will haveâand gives the phone number to call after arrival. The airportâs layout also makes ground transportation connections relatively easy for older travelers and others with functional limitations. The MAX Light Rail Station is close to baggage claim, and the Rental Car Center is nearby in the short-term parking garage. Parking in remote lots served by shuttles may often require less walking than from an airportâs parking garage. At Fort Myers Southwest Florida International Airport, which serves a large population of older adults, shuttle drivers pick up travelers at their vehicles and help transfer luggage directly from the car or van to the shuttle. The same level of service is provided on the return trip. CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International provides similar service at its ValuPark long-term lot but also provides a courtesy electric cart from its terminal garage. Figure 4-14. Light rail shuttle sign (left) and electric cart (right) at SeattleâTacoma.