malvern train station: all that $ spent and still not ADA accessible?

malvern 3Wow.  Way to go Pete Kennedy from Malvern Patch!  Millions of tax dollars were spent on making SEPTA’s Malvern Train Station new and improved….and I thought that meant fully ADA accessible. Only, as Malvern Patch is reporting it is NOT truly  ADA accessible after all.

SEPTA seems to have provided Patch with some amazing non-answers.  I find it absolutely astounding that train stations are being reconstructed at the tune of millions and millions in tax dollars, grants, you name it and they are supposed to be new, improved, shiny, and ADA accessible…only they aren’t?

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Malvern Patch: Wheelchair Users Can’t Board Trains in Malvern, Despite Ramps/How can a person in a wheelchair get onto the train? They can’t, SEPTA said.

ByPete Kennedy Email the author 5:30 am

A Malvern Patch reader who watched the $9.2 million renovation of the Malvern SEPTA station has been wondering something.

Rob Anderson, a daily rail commuter for more than 12 years, writes:

[T]hey installed all the ADA required ramps, etc. and that is great.  But, how can a person in a wheelchair get onto the train?  Has SEPTA made any indication of how they are going to install ramps for riders to get on/off the train?

We reached out to SEPTA, and spokesperson Kristin Geiger explained that there’s currently no way for someone in a wheelchair to board the train in Malvern, despite the many new ramps. They can, however, request free transportation from Malvern to a nearby station with a high-level platform

You can read the full SEPTA response on Malvern Patch.

malvernSo how are the railroads accountable exactly?  Shouldn’t they be fined and forced to remediate? I pretty much just asked Philadelphia Inquirer reporter that question a few moments ago as he wrote a rather large article the other day about the Paoli Station makeover which is moving forward.  If all new and reinvented, rebuilt, repurposed train stations are supposed to be ADA accessible, why aren’t they? I mean ask anyone who opens a business that has public rest rooms for example.  They can’t just say “oops we’ll add handicap accessible bathrooms later” can they ? So why is it any different for public transit entities like AMTRAK and SEPTA?

According to AAPD Of the nearly 2 million people with disabilities who never leave their homes, 560,000 never leave home because of transportation difficulties

I can tell you off the top of my head in addition to Paoli, Bryn Mawr and Ardmore train stations are not ADA accessible.  So now Malvern is back on that list after a very expensive face lift that included all sorts of fancy ramps.  I was using Malvern station a great deal almost two years ago now when being treated for breast cancer. It was so difficult for me to navigate, and I kept thinking that at least at the end of the project people with temporary and permanent disabilities would be better served when the renovation was complete.

I am utterly amazed that Malvern Borough did not stay on top of this project to ensure ADA compliance, but should I be surprised?  Malvern Borough has some of the worst sidewalks I have ever seen in their downtown, so obviously ADA compliance is not a huge priority is it? Maybe it will be when someone trips on a sidewalk and sues the borough?

I figure I would bring this up now, given the money about to be spent in Paoli on a new train station. I am thrilled that this project is moving forward as in Ardmore there is nothing transit related happening with regard to THAT train station project and one can assume people will be riding Dranoff condos or apartments into Center City Philadelphia.  The Paoli project will remove that hideously dangerous and outmoded North Valley Road bridge, but Paoli Train Station has serious ADA issues now, so will the station be ADA compliant?

Part of why these train stations are getting makeovers isn’t just parking and aesthetics, the functionality is supposed to be bought current.  I guess I just don’t understand the thinking of SEPTA with regard to Malvern and wonder why they can’t just do something right the first time?

To quote the AAPD again:

Transportation and The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the landmark civil rights law that addresses the rights of people with disabilities. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail (subways, commuter trains, etc.). Under the ADA; all new vehicles used in public transit must be accessible; key existing rail stations and all new rail stations and facilities must be accessible; and transit operators must provide paratransit (on-demand, door-to-door) services for those who cannot use available mass transit.

 Accessibility

Twenty years after passage of the ADA, transportation choices for people with disabilities are still limited. The ADA has led to major improvements in transit systems across the United States. However, there are persistent gaps in compliance that continue to create significant barriers for people with disabilities. In addition, because the ADA only addresses public transportation, few transportation options exist for people with disabilities where no public transportation is available. In some areas, such as in rural communities, insufficient funding has left people with disabilities with little or no transportation options. In urban areas, where individuals often rely on accessible taxis, a lack of requirements has meant very uneven progress.