FTA funding to enhance accessibility in U.S. transit systems

Posted: 31 May 2024 | | No comments yet

FTA has announced $343 million in federal funding to retrofit aging rail transit systems across eight states, enhancing accessibility and aligning stations with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

FTA funding to enhance accessibility in U.S. transit systems

Credit: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has unveiled a $343 million investment aimed at transforming some of the nation’s oldest and busiest rail transit systems into more accessible hubs. This initiative, part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, targets the retrofitting of aging stations to accommodate millions of Americans who face mobility challenges.

The funding, awarded through the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP), will benefit transit systems across eight states. These grants will finance critical upgrades such as the installation of lifts, renovation of platforms for level boarding, enhancements to signage and improvements to visual and audio systems. The ultimate goal is to align these stations with the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), thereby enabling easier access to public transportation for all citizens.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said: “We are not only modernising our nation’s infrastructure, we are doing so in a way that makes it more accessible for older Americans, people with disabilities, and all transit users.” 

New initiative by TfW boosts confidence for visually impaired travellers

FTA Acting Administrator Veronica Vanterpool said: “By modernising rail systems across the country, the ASAP programme provides funding to address these overdue improvements. We want to ensure that all customers can use transit systems with ease and reliability, including people with disabilities, those using mobility devices, and other users needing more accessible spaces.”

Several prominent projects have been selected for funding under ASAP, showcasing the programme’s diverse scope and impact:

  • Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (Ohio): $16 million to renovate eight stations on the Blue Line, introducing new concrete platforms, redesigned ramps, elevated platform sections and improved accessibility features
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York City): $156.5 million allocated to enhance accessibility at five stations including Wakefield-241st Street, Kingsbridge Road, 167th Street, 145th Street, and 110th Street. Upgrades will feature lift installations, platform updates, tactile warning strips, stairway repairs and enhanced signage and announcements
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency: Approximately $4.7 million earmarked for improvements on the J-Church and M-Ocean View lines, focusing on platform construction, wheelchair ramps and reducing gaps between platforms and railcars.

The ASAP programme, part of a broader $1.75 billion initiative through FY 2026, has received overwhelming interest, with nearly $1.1 billion in funding requests for 2024. This underscores the critical need and high demand for enhancing accessibility within the nation’s transit infrastructure.