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Minutes MBTA/City Bus Access issues 2/8/07

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Somerville Disability Commissioners, 2006, attempted to form a collaborative strategy to address and implement bus stop accessibility improvements. But the City staff were unwilling to broker a …

Somerville Disability Commissioners, 2006, attempted to form a collaborative strategy to address and implement bus stop accessibility improvements. But the City staff were unwilling to broker a good-faith relationship with the MBTA.

At one meeting, City ADA Coordinator Campbell summed up the city’s stance with the following words, “YOU (MBTA) were sued, so YOU should be doing this. We didn’t do anything wrong and we don’t have to do anything for you.”

meetings disintegrated in April 2008, after no Somerville staff promises were upheld.

Published in: News & Politics, Business, Travel

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  • 1. CITY/MBTA ACCESS COORDINATION COMMITTEE Minutes of First Meeting February 8, 2007 3:15 - 4:45 p.m.at: Richard Tranfaglias Office, Somerville City Hall,93 Highland Ave. 02143(617) 625-6600, x 3310PRESENT: Kellyann Binari, Eileen Feldman, Craig Fletcher, Ellen Frith, ToddKaplan, Joe Medeiros, Al Rubio, Richard TranfagliaDocuments distributed:! Toolkit for the Assessment of Bus Stop Accessibility and Safety, bythe Easter Seals Assoc., in conjunction with the DOT.! Nov. 22 letter from Disabilities Commission to Mayor Curtatoneregarding these issues.Meeting began at 3:15 p.m. Craig and Joe led the meeting.1. Todd gave a brief recap. of the MBTA settlement that was reached inApril, 2006. Please see end of this document for summary, copied fromthe Boston Center for Independent Living Web page:http://bostoncil.org/docs/alerts.htmlTodd summarized goal of meeting: Discover what resources we have tocoordinate accessibility and useability of bus stops and T stations withinSomerville; make a realistic plan.2. SOMERVILLE COORDINATION ISSUES:A. Enforcement inconsistent for: No Parking zones and HP Parkingregulations at bus stops and T stations.Identified Problems: # 1. Currently, theres no collaboration between Somerville PoliceDepartment and MBTA Police Department to implement enforcement. # 2. Bus stops are not adequately marked, so enforcement, regs.fuzzy for patrons. Signage, yellow strips, Pavement grid should be welldistinguished. City is waiting for MBTA to commit funds. 1
  • 2. Proposed Solutions: for # 1. Encourage collaboration between Smvlle and MBRA PoliceDepartments. We need the cooperation of the Somerville Police Department toeither enforce the regulations and give the tickets- or, -Somerville Police need to share the tickets with MBTA Police, toallow the MBTA Police to enforce bus stop parking regulations and ticketviolators.{Solutions found in other cities: Boston and Cambridge currently share ticket bookswith T police so they can write tickets.Also, a bill has been filed so that the T can write their own tickets (this must gothrough the lengthy bill process).} for #2: Have meeting between City and MBTA to commit funds forsignage implementation. MBTA makes signs per City needs; City (DPW?)implements placement of markings, signage, yellow strips, and pavementgrids. Clarify if/amount settlement funds are available to pay for some ofthis work in Somerville. Clarify lines of responsibility for each task.B. Access Barriers and Obstacles at Bus stops, T stations preventwheelchair users, visually impaired customers, others with sensory andmobility impairments from having safe access to stops and safe egressfrom bus to sidewalks.Identified Problems:#1. It is unclear who is responsible for maintenance and upkeep of eachindividual stop.Therefore, noone is taking responsibility to remove/change placement ofbarriers (such as newspaper kiosks, badly placed street furniture,crosswalks interfering with adequate busstop clearance, etc.) and clearsnow and other weather obstacles (flooding, ice, etc.). 2
  • 3. #2. Adequate mapping of this problem has not yet been done. Justwithin the meeting, five separate instances of barriers in Union Squarealone were identified.1Two types of problems must be solved: • Snow, ice, flood removal; and • barrier removal.In both cases, responsible entities must first be clearly identified thatshould implement removal of barrier and obstacles, then, policies andprocedures need to be created and put into place so that responsibleentities have clear commitments to maintain and oversee.PROPOSAL: Choose four Somerville-centered bus line routes to start with,and map out responsible parties for each bus stop along those routes.Create a Pilot Project to create Four Fully Accessible Bus Routesthroughout Somerville.NEEDED TO IMPLEMENT PROPOSAL:o Clear commitment from City and MBTA (and businesses, residents, when appropriate) to support the clearing of snow and other obstacles at bus stops.o Outreach to businesses along routes.o Clear procedures, responsible leaders for this Project.1 1. 90 Union Square bus stop: Outgoing bus stop (towards Sullivan Station) is completelyunsafe to wait at; to exit busses from; and to cross street at. Suggestion: Place a clearlymarked stop there, complete with bus shelter, and crosswalk signage. 2. in front of Citizens Bank: no room for wheelchair users waiting for bus, or enough spacefor wheelchair users to pass bus stop when it is filled with waiting passengers. 3. in front of Furniture store, Somerville Ave.; Crosswalk and bus stop are mingled and notclearly marked, and sidewalk area not adequate for all users. Folks using crosswalk do not haveadequate space to cross after exiting bus, and waiting passengers do not have adequate roomto wait on curbside. 4. 90 Union Square bus stop at bus shelter (towards Harvard Square): Bus shelter badlyplaced: too close to curb; not enough room for wheelchair and other passengers to share thatcurb and waiting space; inadequate clearance for wheelchair users to enter shelter in inclementweather. 5. In front of Shermans (Washington St.) newspaper kiosks block bus stop waiting area; and,there is no clearly marked space for wheelchair users to wait so bus driver can stop to let on alltypes of passengers at the same time. 3
  • 4. Questions:! Disabilities Commissioners have offered to take pictures of barrier problems; who will this report be submitted to?! Who will administratively and fiscally support the Commissions leadership and work, and take a leadership role to implement logical solutions?(Solution implemented in Cambridge: Someone is designated to be responsible forevery bus stop for each of four lines within Cambridge. Signs at stops give phonenumber to call and complain when there is an access/safety problem).3. Groups suggestions for Action Plan" 1. All stakeholders must agree to participate in a series of meetings toaccomplish accessibility and useability of all bus and T facilities withinSomerville." 2. Ad-hoc committee working closely with above group will be:Richard, Todd, Tom, Craig, Kellyann. This group will identify the objectives,goals of Coordination Meetings." 3. Clarify responsibilities between City Departments: DPW, Traffic &Parking, Police, MBTA." 4. Clarify what funds are available from the settlement for this localcoordination effort. (Todd notes p. 24 of settlement, re: what the T mustdo after priorities are documented.)" 5a. Plan and Implement Patrolling of stops: T police patrols stops,gives first offense a warning ticket. This begun in conjunction with:" 5b. Publicity/Education Campaign to alert public to regulations of noparking zones, HP parking availability and regs., etc." 5c. new signage prepared and paid for by MBTA." 5d. Yellow stripes painted by City workers. Richard says that, with additional funding and the clear markingsfrom MBTA, this (#5) should take 2 - 4 months." 6. Prioritize four model accessible bus lines throughout Somerville.Document problems, needs on each of those routes." 7. Develop procedures to monitor Bus Safety and Bus Driver Safety." 8. Work closely with newly appointed Independent Monitor(s), and" 9. Seek guidance/support of Judge Patrick King, newly appointed. 4
  • 5. " 10. Bring in East Somerville Main Streets and Union Square MainStreets Programs as partners for Pedestrian and Bus Safety and Access." 11. Develop other contacts, partners, supports. Contact Dan Grobowski?Chamber of Commerce?" 12. Work/plan in conjunction w/other adjacent local entities,NOTES: Craig asks: Can we use revenue from enforcement forDisabilities Commission funding? Ellen says that Commissions aresupposed to get those fines to budget Commission work. Richard saysno, that all goes into a "General Fund." Richard says he will find out thestatutes.HERE IS THE RELEVANT CITATION:M.G.L. c. 40, § 8J and 22G : A city or town, which accepts the provisions of this Section, isauthorized to establish a Disability Commission. Commissions work with the Office on Disabilityto carry out programs and activities designed to integrate people with disabilities into thecommunity. The specific activities of a Commission depend on the needs of the disabledcommunity in the particular city or town.Commissions consist of five to nine members, and are appointed by the mayor or city managerin cities or by the selectmen or town manager in towns. The majority of members must bedisabled, and one must be an immediate family member of a disabled person. One member ofthe Commission must be an elected or appointed official of the city or town. Members areinitially appointed in staggered one, two and three year terms. A Commission must have at leastsix meetings per year, keep records of its meetings and actions, and file an annual report.Commissions generally are authorized to receive gifts and other funds, under Section 8J. Forthe benefit of persons with disabilities, cities and towns which have chosen to implementa Handicapped Parking Program may empower Commissions to receive and administerfines from violations of the Handicapped Parking Law, under Section 22G. The details ofthese funding decisions are left to the collaborative efforts of officials in the localcommunities. For more information, contact the Massachusetts Office on Disability.Web: http://mass.gov/mod/MunicipalCommissionList.htmlAt meetings ending, KA reports accident to Richard: on Somerville Ave.as a result of no adequate curb cut. A gentleman has fallen out of hisWheelchair while attempting to move on the sidewalk without disturbingprivate property. KA will f/u by calling Alderperson Maryann Guetthoff. (Itis the Citys responsibility to maintain accessible sidewalks as part of themandates for Public Facilities Accessibility, per Title II of the ADA.)Meeting ends at 4:45 p.m. 5
  • 6. FOLLOW-UP PLANS:Richard will contact Police Chief and DPW Commissioner to bring them tothe table to discuss these issues, select solutions, and implementsolutions.Craig and Tom will contact Shenendoah Titus, Deputy of MBTA Police, tobring MBTA Police to table to coordinate problem solving.Todd will check around MBTA to see what additional contacts should beat this table, and update us on who is chosen to be the new AssistantGeneral Manager for Access.DATE and TIME of this "stakeholders" meeting To Be Decided ASAP.For 2/26 Meeting- FOLLOW UP REPORTS:Richard:________________________________________________________Craig___________________________________________________________Todd___________________________________________________________--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Summary of settlement terms for class-action lawsuit against the MBTA from BCIL website http://bostoncil.org/docs/alerts.htmlFollowing is a summary of improvements slated for the MBTA as a result of thesettlement of a class-action ADA lawsuit filed by Greater Boston Legal Serviceson behalf of eleven individual plaintiffs and the Boston Center for IndependentLiving. The settlement was announced on April 3, 2006 and will be legally bindingin U.S. District Court. The MBTA placed a total monetary value of $310 million onthe planned cost of improvements. Individual plaintiffs were Joanne Daniels-Feingold, Gene Smith, Maureen Cancemi, Andy Forman, Rob Park, Reggie Clark,Tom Gilbert, Dan Larkin, Rogera Robinson, Myrnairis Cepeda, and Joan Golden.Plaintiffs have indicated that a new, positive partnership with the MBTA, long thebane of many people with disabilities, is emerging.1. Upgrade elevators and escalators. The MBTA has committed to spending$122 million over the next five years to add, replace and upgrade elevators andescalators and to ensure continuous, uninterrupted elevator service during allpassenger service hours. This includes adding elevators at Park Street,Downtown Crossing, Harvard Square and Porter Square and replacing a numberof outdated, small elevators. The MBTA has committed to the highest standard of 6
  • 7. elevator and escalator maintenance to ensure that elevators are working during allpassenger service hours. 2. Improve bus services. Bus drivers are required to treat passengers whohave disabilities with courtesy and respect, provide any necessary assistance, uselifts and ramps properly, pull to the curb at stops, secure passengers usingwheelchairs properly and follow all MBTA rules concerning accessible services. 3. Improve bus maintenance. The MBTA must improve its maintenanceprocedure to ensure that ramps, lifts, kneelers, signs, public address systems andother accessibility devices are working properly whenever a bus is in service. 4. Buy new, low-floor buses. The MBTA must continue to buy new low-floorbuses, which provide for the easiest boarding, to replace the current 394 buseswith wheelchair lifts that are difficult to use and maintain. Almost all routes will beserved with low-floor buses by 2007. 5. Close platform gaps. The MBTA has agreed to find and use “state-of-the-art”solutions to the problem of wide gaps between subway cars and platforms, whichpresent serious safety hazards, especially to passengers using wheelchairs. TheMBTA will repair and replace all defective yellow warning strips, which enablepeople with vision impairments to know they are at the edge of a platform. 6. Replace difficult mobile lifts. As a temporary measure, the MBTA isinstalling “mini-high” platform and ramps at 11 Green Line stations to replace theextremely difficult mobile lifts used to make the cars accessible to passengersusing wheelchairs. To the best of its ability, the MBTA will assign one low-floorcar to each street car train on the Green Line, so passengers can board usingconvenient ramps. 7. Install new PA systems. The MBTA is installing new PA systems andelectronic message boards throughout the system to enable all passengers to getreliable, up-to-date information. A new system of directional signs and other“wayfinding” devices will be developed and installed. Emergency call boxes willbe usable by people with disabilities and maintained in proper working order. 8. Improve training and customer assistance. Customer assistance andemergency procedures are being substantially improved. The complaint system isbeing reworked to make it simpler and more responsive. A new training programdirectly involving people with disabilities is being developed. The MBTA mustprovide proper supervision of personnel dealing directly with customers and, whennecessary use available disciplinary measures to ensure accountability forperformance of job responsibilities related to accessibility and ADA compliance. 7
  • 8. 9. Appoint a manager for accessibility. The MBTA is appointing an assistantgeneral manager with responsibility for making bus and subway servicesaccessible to everyone.10. Monitor compliance. An independent monitor, appointed by andaccountable to the Court, will assess compliance with the terms of the agreement.This will include undercover monitoring of bus service for people with disabilities 8