Improving accessibility in public transport


Disabled accessibility poses a wide-ranging challenge that needs to be tackled from many different angles. In fact, each different type of disability calls for its own solution.

In the particular case of transport, Spain’s Certification and Standardization Association, AENOR, points out that: “The various components of the transport accessibility chain need to meet the MGLC criteria (Movement, Grasping, Locating and Communication) laid down in the universal accessibility standard UNE 170001-1. This involves taking into account various processes before, during and after the trip. Firstly, there is the movement to the journey starting point, then access to or evacuation from the transport terminals” to which could be added information needs during the trip itself for people with a sight or hearing impairment.

There is still some way to go in this endeavor. The Spanish visual impairment charity called ONCE points out that “Legislation on a national level dealing with public- and private-transport accessibility is still thin on the ground. Criteria-unifying laws are needed to ensure that any disabled person can move around a city without hindrance”.

Regional authorities, on the other hand, do in general show a multi-factored commitment to accessibility in public transport. Take the case of the regional authority of Madrid, which strives to ensure metro accessibility by means of stations with several degrees of accessibility and plans and guides in audio format. Madrid’s local transport authority, EMT, for its part, lays on buses with floors and information systems adapted to suit visually-impaired passengers. Mention must also be made of the national railway network, RENFE, which implements such accessibility measures as the Atendo program, a free passenger-assistance and -attention service for disabled or reduced-mobility persons who wish to use the railway.

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSs) also allow a wide range of accessibility-enhancing technology to be brought in. There are many help-providing systems, usually built into public-transport fleet-management systems, exploiting the new possibilities offered by onboard equipment and information systems. To give only a few examples, inside public-address systems can announce the next stop either automatically or by means of a special Ciberpass handheld for visually impaired passengers. At bus-stops too the same handheld or a push-button system can also produce audio ETA announcements. On many occasions the bus itself has an outside loudspeaker announcing the line and end-station, so that the waiting visually-impaired passengers can be sure they’re boarding the right bus.

As another recent breakthrough, the Barcelona local transport authority, TMB, in collaboration with GMV, has set up a system of bus-stop radio-frequency beacons that tap into a handheld application to tell waiting visually-impaired passengers that their bus is now approaching the stop.


Autor: Isidro Prieto Valderrey

Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV

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