What’s in a B&A?April 2, 2012 by: Samuel Scheib
The place where a passenger alights (gets off) a bus has long been a semantic haze. Is it the bus stop? A landing pad? Is a shelter pad the same thing? Well, in case you have not come across this addition to the 2006 Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) yet, we now have a common name for it: the boarding and alighting area, or B&A.
The stop itself is where a bus (or other vehicle) comes to a rest, opens its doors, and allows passengers to board and alight. It may be designated by the presence of a bus stop pole with appropriate signage, a covered shelter, a bench, or in some places just a person waving (called a “flag stop”). The place where the foot touches the ground is the B&A and like all things ADAAG it is a good idea and comes with a regulatory burden. The language is straight forward:
Bus Boarding and Alighting Areas (compliance with dimensions is required to the extent construction specifications are within a public entity’s control)
810.2.2 Dimensions. Bus boarding and alighting areas shall provide a clear length of 96 inches (2440 mm), measured perpendicular to the curb or vehicle roadway edge, and a clear width of 60 inches (1525 mm), measured parallel to the vehicle roadway. Public entities shall ensure that the construction of bus boarding and alighting areas comply with 810.2.2, to the extent the construction specifications are within their control.
From the front edge of the curb the B&A must be five feet wide and extend 8 feet deep. Because transit is often/usually part of a built environment, the B&A is not quite as onerous as it may sound because the sidewalk counts and so can parts of a shelter or bench pad as well. The requirement for a “free area” just means nothing can be in the way. The B&A, for example may extend under the drip line of a shelter, but it stops at the point a trash can or bench begins. If six foot sidewalks are common in your community, connecting the sidewalk to the curb over the utility strip may be all that is needed to make a complete B&A.
The image below shows three scenarios for completing a B&A with an existing sidewalk. Transit agencies not already working on a plan for having B&As at nearly every stop (what might be a 30-year plan) are going to be doing so in the not-too-distant future, so if you work for one you might want to pass these images along to your city and county public works departments so they know to include this addition anytime work is going on near a stop. (Note: on the third example because the small piece of sidewalk in the back could be unstable and require freqeunt repair the entire B&A may need to be reconstructed to save headaches later.)