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New commuter rail cars impress disabled passengers

For four days in December, RTD and its contractor hosted a public open house to show off the newest transit technology coming to Denver in 2016 – commuter rail.

RTD commuter rail cars on display at Union Station in December 2014

Two vehicles were on display and the public had the opportunity to look at, touch and smell the new train cars before they start a year-long testing and commissioning program.

During the open house, Doug Howey, a member of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, raved about the new vehicles and how accommodating they are for people in wheelchairs. Check out the video of him inside the commuter rail car.

What makes the new trains so special, is that in 2011 RTD hosted a mock-up version of the vehicle to collect public input on the design of the car.

More than 12,000 people, including members of the Americans with Disabilities community, provided input on design enhancements that were incorporated into the actual train cars.

You talked, we listened

Commuter rail cars include these elements suggested by the public:

  • Additional ceiling handholds in the entry area for increased passenger comfort and safety
  • Handgrips between headrests to allow for easier access in and out of the seats
  • Addition of two types of securement mechanisms to accommodate a wider variety of bicycles
  • Reconfigured luggage storage space for increased capacity
  • Shortened windscreens near ADA seating areas to allow better maneuverability for wheelchairs

RTD is committed to being fully ADA-compliant and the agency is looking forward to launching three new commuter rail lines and one new light rail line in 2016.

See a story about John Barr, another disabled rider who viewed the changes he helped bring about.