The Seattle Public Transit Authority (SPTA) is adding accessible wheelchair lanes to all buses, trains and ferries, including the light-rail line.
The changes, announced Thursday, will make it easier for people who can’t sit or stand on the curb to get to and from transit stations.
“With this initiative, we’re giving people who are disabled or who are walking handicapped access to transit services, which is important,” SPTA board member Karen Kallman said in a statement.
“We also know that accessibility helps people stay connected to our community.”
The agency plans to begin testing the program starting next month.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will also start testing the new program beginning in 2019.
“Our goal is to provide people with mobility aids the ability to reach their destination safely and quickly, and this is the first step toward accomplishing that,” SDOT spokesman Mike Zukerman said.
The buses and trains will be accessible, and passengers will be able to select the number of wheelchair spaces they need, Kallmann said.
She said the buses will also be equipped with walkie-talkie systems.
Transit agencies nationwide are now testing accessible seating options, including on trains and buses, and more are expected to follow suit in the coming months.
The US Department of Health and Human Services has been funding wheelchair accessibility research in cities for decades, and a pilot program in Seattle has already been running for six years.
A spokesperson for the National Association of the Deaf told Business Insider that it’s encouraging that the Seattle transit system is considering making accessibility a standard feature of its buses and ferry.
“The NADDL is supportive of this initiative and looks forward to working with the Seattle Transit Commission to expand accessible bus and ferry service throughout the region,” Jennifer Kieffer said.
“The implementation of this program is a critical step to make our transit system more accessible and accessible for everyone, including individuals with disabilities.”