Sometimes expanding access to transit can be as easy as reexamining assumptions about riders’ needs. That may be the early lesson from a 30-day experiment Houston METRO is conducting on 11 trains. The transit authority has removed four benches -- or eight seats -- from cars on those trains in a bid to increase comfort for users who need extra space.
The move is a win for a diverse group of transit riders, from cyclists to wheelchair users to parents with young children, explains Dean Hall at NEOHouston:
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This is a boon for bicyclists who can use the open space for their bike while holding on to the new overhead straps. The open area can also be utilized by persons in wheelchairs.
However, I think the biggest gains will be for parents who transport their infants and toddlers in strollers. Previously, only the smallest umbrella-style strollers could easily negotiate an LRT car’s narrow center aisle. I have a personal experience trying to manage one of the larger style strollers and I received looks from other passengers who had to make room for me and the stroller that was convenient for me, but an imposition to those around me...
So, thank you, METRO. By taking something away, you’ve improved options for three types of riders.