Attention riders using wheelchairs: Have your say about bus ramps

On Wednesday, October 2, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) will be in Seattle to take public comments related to the design and slope of bus ramps and the space needed at the top of ramps for individuals using wheeled mobility devices.

The picture to the right is of tests Metro undertook in 1978, taking the lead in designing lifts and ordering the first accessible buses that year. A lot has changed and the transit industry is now moving away from lifts entirely and using ramps on low floor buses. Ramps have many advantages and some disadvantages. The Access Board is looking at ways to address those disadvantages with the meeting here in Seattle.

What is your experience using Metro’s ramps?

Most of Metro’s ramps have a slope of 1:4 while our new Orion coaches, ordered in 2010, have ramps with a less steep 1:6 slope. The forty foot long Orions are used on routes 16, 22, 50, 60 107, 140, 164, 166, 168, 169, 180 among many other routes. What has your experience been using the ramps on Metro’s Buses? Have you tried the 1:6 ramps on the Orions? Let us know what your experience has been like in the comments or feel free to email Metro Accessible Services at

Please visit the Access Board webpage on the proposed rules to get more information about attending the meeting and to submit a comment. If you are unable to make the meeting, the Access Board will be taking public comments until October 31, 2012.

10 thoughts on “Attention riders using wheelchairs: Have your say about bus ramps

  1. I don’t use a wheelchair but have limited mobility. I asked a driver on Friday to lower the ramp. He looked at me and said disbelievingly “You want a ramp?” I said yes, I have arthritis and cannot go up steps. He then lowered the ramp.

    Since when to we have to present our diagnosis to a driver in order to have access to a bus????

  2. The ramps on the new buses like the a line are very good. The other buses like 180 which i ride alot suck. there are very inconvient and hard to ride up on with a manual wheelchair and powerchair. It is scary going down the ramp. I want to know who made the design and are they disabled. i would love to volunteer to help with design and tryout from a disabled petson point of view. i use a powerchair and manuel wheelchair.

  3. The lift is not an option for people with advanced health related issues and your program should not be denying access to the traditional van service special transportation. No matter how well designed the lift is or not……you cannot offer this as the only option for people with disability. It is unacceptable and your program should be reevaluated. You might be saving money but you are not providing the special service that people with disability require and deserve.

  4. My experience riding Metro with my power chair has been mixed. The ramps are difficult to use because after entering, you have to make a very sharp turn and it’s very difficult to do. When exiting, you have to make the sharp turn again and there is no visible way to line your chair up with the ramp so sometimes you’re off the ramp and don’t know it. My power chair gave me nothing but problems when I couldn’t get it on or off correctly. Then the drivers are not always helpful. I had to request assistance from the passengers to get unhooked when my stop came as the bus driver wouldn’t get up out of his seat. The bus was packed. My ride was very unpleasant and I will do everything possible to avoid having to ride Metro again.

  5. I am forced to rely on a cane for mobility. I actually have to ask the drivers to lower the bus ramp in order for me to get off and on. This is not rocket science – drivers should have enough common sense and manners to lower/raise these ramps for all handicapped, not only for people bound to wheelchairs. Also, typically while hobbling down the narrow isle in search of a seat the drivers will resume their route. Walking down the isle on a cane is difficult enough, perhaps the driver would kindly wait until the handicapped passenger is seated before resuming driving. It is all I can do to keep from falling, even with my cane, but while the bus is moving is quite a challenge and falling would be horribly humiliating. A bit of common sense and courtesy would truly make all the difference and could potentially prevent greater disability. We do not chose to be handicapped and have to rely on aid to walk; however, we ask for nothing more that manners from those in a position of authority.
    Thank You.

  6. I have more than one disability. I often commute with my service dog and lap top. There are good days and bad days. On a good day I can get on a bus and lift my computer bag and guide my dog up with little struggle.On a bad day this is not possible. I find requesting the lift or even the kneel of the bus from 50% of the drivers an issue. They are hasitant and visably annoyed by the request. They make me wait last to board and then seldom ask for others to clear a seat for me, no matter how I board with my dog and carry on.
    As for the equipment the newer buses are a blessing. The entry is wide and they are often low enough that I do not need to request the bus to kneel or for the ramp. The Step up buses are hard to board and narrower so the lit is needed more. However once upon some o these type buses I find the seating more accessable in most cases to comfortably settle into a space with my dog (50#) amd not be stepped upon.

  7. My experience with the ramps have been very disappointing. My first attempt failed because I am to large (500 lb) and the lift couldn’t lift me and the power chair although the bus driver was very helpful and courteous. My next few attempts were on the ramps. My wheel chair is large and could not make the sharp turn required to move past the entry point. If possible, some thought should be given to allow power chairs to enter from the rear door into a area where it is not so constricted.

  8. I do not use a wheel chair (yet); however, the majority of the drivers need to be re-trained.  I am physically unable to step up onto the bus.  The step, to get up onto a city bus, is substantially higher than a single step in a standard  flight of stairs. When hobbling on a cane, it is not rocket science, to comprehend that a person has a disability.  The disabled would rather walk further and climb higher, than to endure their disability.  By no means should it ever be the decision of a bus driver to determine the extent of  an individual’s disability.  Rather the rude drivers like it or not, my disability is none of their business.  It is bad enough that I have to accept being struck with this disability, enduring such scrutiny from a city bus driver is over the top.  HIPA provides that I shall neve be required to share my personal medical information with anyone I don’t want to share it with, including a non-medical stranger.   Bus drivers need to get off their own personal power trip and learn humility and the spirit of helpfulness, considering the career path they chose for themselves.


  9. We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience. We work with our operators so they understand and accommodate the needs of all riders, and many drivers work hard to help those who need it most. That said, we always take reports like this from our customers seriously. The best way to report specific interactions is to email or call (206) 553-3000. If you can identify the bus number, time of day, and the location, we can identify the particular driver. Then, the driver can be approached about his or her behavior and you can track how we have handled the situation. Our apologies once again for this experience.

Leave a Reply