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“An Analysis of Disabled Accessibility Transportation in the City of Chicago”

Author: Manuel Luna

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

Abstract:According to the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), all CTA and Pace buses are 100 percent accessible (RTA, 2023). The Americans with Disabilities Act holds these transportation systems to provide accessible features such as wheelchair securement areas, ramps, priority seating, and visual displays. In reality, 76 percent of stations are actually functional. While on paper, the CTA has met these requirements, there are still accessibility issues present in these forms of transportation. This literature review aims to shed light on the accessibility landscape of Chicago, specifically focusing on the purported accessibility of its transportation methods. Despite claims of inclusivity and convenience, this study reveals a narrative that challenges the notion that Chicago's transportation system is universally accessible. While Pace and CTA vehicles claim to be entirely accessible, and each Metra train includes at least one accessible car, certain rail stations lack crucial features like elevators and ramps. The Service Boards continually work on updating station facilities, aiming to achieve the said “100 percent” accessibility in the region (Derwinski, 2023). Investments in projects such as station elevators contribute to universal mobility, benefiting all users, not just those with disabilities. Enhanced accessibility not only improves the transit experience for individuals with disabilities but also benefits families with strollers or carts. Currently, about 76 percent of Metra stations and 70 percent of CTA rail stations are actually fully accessible (Drewinski, 2023). There are still physical barriers and gaps in transportation services. People with disabilities make up a good part of the community and should have access to transportation. Otherwise, they are left stuck or stranded in their communities making their mobility harder. There are also negative stigma carried within these issues as well-- as the need for more accessibility tools prove to be an inconvenience for able bodied people. Although the CTA wants to cater for people with disabilities, it fails to properly provide that service. Policy recommendations call for collaboration with disability advocacy groups to further understand the gaps in current transportation accessibility. There is a need for the retrofitting of existing infrastructure in order to remove physical barriers and enforce inclusive design standards in new transportation infrastructure projects.

Keywords: Disability, Accessibility, Transportation