New LRT trains create tough times for disabled riders

I was on an airport shuttle bus the other day when an elderly woman (she was probably my age) boarded. The people sitting in the seats with the label “riders must give up this seat for elderly and disabled passengers” didn’t budge. I gave her my seat; it was the decent thing to do.

Decency doesn’t always ride transit and that’s a problem with new LRT trains, a Minnesota House committee was told yesterday.

Session Daily reports that the dedicated wheelchair areas are gone, replaced by fold-up seats that riders are supposed to give up when needed, assuming that their parents raised them correctly.

Designated wheelchair areas disappeared, replaced by fold-down seats often occupied by other riders. The current design meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards, said Margot Imdieke Cross, an accessibility specialist with the Minnesota State Council on Disability. The changes, though, have made for a more challenging mass transit experience, she said.

“It really became our responsibility to ask these folks, these people, to move,” Imdieke Cross told lawmakers. “And if we feel uncomfortable doing so, then we sit in the aisle,” or block the train’s entrance and exit doors.

It’s not really a “Minnesota thing” to say, “can you get out of that seat so I can have it?”

A bill requires new design standards for future light rail transit vehicles on the Blue Line and Green Line to include dedicated wheelchair spaces on each car and seating next to the dedicated spaces.