Universal design approach to transportation

Train station entry hall in China.Much of our transportation infrastructure was designed last century when the focus was on getting people to work and school. People with disability were not considered as part of the working or school populations at that time. But times have changed and “average” must evolve to “inclusive” because there is no such thing as the average user. The time has come for a universal design approach to transportation. That includes footpaths.

A magazine article on inclusive transit systems suggests one way to think about the transit system is to recall an experience in another country. Was it easy to use? Did you feel you could confidently and independently navigate your way to your destination? How was buying a ticket? If you got confused, potentially, new users will be confused at home too. These are good benchmarks for home country design. 

The article discusses the Transit Universal Design Guidelines (TUDG).  It promotes the value of implementing a universal design approach that supports all user groups. And it doesn’t start and end at the station door. The environment leading up to the transit system must be part of the plan. The article picks out three key elements.

Key elements

User Groups: consider who you are ultimately designing for. This section includes accommodations required to satisfy the needs of specific user groups — including individuals with visual, hearing, speech, or mobility disabilities and needs, among others.

Aspects of Accommodation: identify features and techniques that can enhance the end user experience — from handrails, to hearing assistant systems, to tactile pathways, to mobile ticketing apps.

Implementation: understand the process and approach for implementing universal design through advocacy, engagement, and evaluating and finalizing design options. With this approach, transit agencies can attract new and retain existing ridership and provide solutions that are inclusive and universal from the start.

Passengers wheel their baggage on the train station platform. A very fast train is in the backgound.The title of the article is, Designing More Inclusive, Accessible Transit Systems for All

For more information on accessible and inclusive transit systems and transportation, check out the the Transportation section of this website.