Chapter 2


Report of Thematic Group 8

The Design and Operation of Accessible Public Transport Systems



2.1 Introduction

 This part of the report sets out to detail the results of the information sharing role of the Helios II group with specific focus on the functional requirements of users of public and personal transportation systems.

Designers of transport systems have neglected a crucial piece of market research in respect of user needs. In the past, as in building design, transportation systems have been designed to cater for an assumed average person. Nowadays we have much better information about the range of physical and cognitive abilities of populations, but designers have been slow to catch on.

In fact, a significant percentage of the population in any area is likely to have difficulty in walking more than 50 metres, in climbing more than four steps, or in reading newspaper-sized text. If any effort at all has been made to address this fact, it frequently only involves categorising people as disabled or non-disabled. On their own, these terms are meaningless.

The first part of section 2.2 discusses mobility and user needs, which results in a set of general design principles. These general principles are applied and refined in terms of access design requirements, including building design, the pedestrian environment and the accessibility of information systems. We then cover the design of transport interchanges and stops, detailing also the specific requirements of each mode of transport. Section 2.9 examines areas where there are existing gaps in the provision of barrier-free transport design, offering challenges to architects,designers and engineers alike to find solutions. It is the nature of design to evolve and develop, and thus, there is always room for improvement even in those few areas where there is currently adequate provision. In far too many cases, design responsibility is relinquished in favour of the development of comprehensive customer care strategies, and whilst customer care strategies will continue to play an important role in any journey, they cannot be used as a way of compensating for inadequate design. This Chapter concludes with a look at innovations and experimental design, showing the direction in which the journey of the mobility restricted passenger is moving.

Examples, in many cases supported by photographs, are provided to show both good and bad design practice. In some cases, of course, one example will show both good and bad practice as part of the same design, and often this is the result of a designer having a raised awareness of one particular group, but neglecting others, or with one aspect of the interchange or vehicle as a focus. It cannot be emphasised enough that the design of public transport systems must be a chain with each link compatible and with no discrimination against any user group.


2.2 Understanding Mobility - The User Group

Our approach to accessibility is based on the concept of 'inclusive design', or 'integral accessibility'. This concept is well outlined in a document entitled 'European Manual For An Accessible Built Environment', published by the Central Co-ordinating Committee for the Promotion of Accessibility (CCPT). Such an approach renders the 'medical model' of disability redundant. Under the medical model 'disability' is regarded as a function of the person, rather than the effect of poor design. Since Leonardo da Vinci, designers have sought to design for a notional 'average person'. 'Averageness' is a purely statistical function. When you consider the range of personal attributes that need to be taken into account (vision, hearing, motor capacity, mental acuity etc.) in design terms, it becomes obvious that we are all non-average in almost all respects, and that there is no such person as an 'average person'.

Our aim is therefore to design public transport systems which cater for the needs of all potential users. The principles outlined in this document are based on this approach. We can specify user needs in terms of the following:

sensory ability;

locomotive ability;

manipulative ability;and

cognitive ability.

For designers who wish to understand more about the various common conditions which define the range of abilities specified above, we have included background information in Appendix A.


2.3 The Design Process

 The active participation of users in the whole process is essential. Very often, users are involved, or 'consulted' at too late a stage, resulting either in an inaccessible design, or in increased costs. To ensure accessibility for all, the design process should be as follows:

2.3.1 Establish the needs (of all users) by research, consultation and user involvement

2.3.2 Specify the system required to meet those needs

2.3.3 Review the specification with users

2.3.4 If necessary, revise the specification

2.3.5 Implement the specification

2.3.6 Review the implementation with users

2.3.7 Modify the implementation

and so on, in a cyclical development process.


2.4 General Design Principles


2.4.1 Step Free Access - It is obvious that a wheelchair user will need an alternative way of moving between flooring levels without using flights of, or indeed any, stairs. This will generally mean the provision of a lift, a ramp, or a stair lift, depending on the situation. However, stairs are preferable to ramps for many, and the abolition of stairs in favour of ramps is counter-productive. In situations where there are already existing steps, the provision of ramps must be seen as an alternative rather than a replacement;

2.4.2 Adequate hand-level manoeuvring area on each side of doors, within lobbies, lifts etc;

2.4.3 All door handles, grab rails and hand rails located at a reachable height;

2.4.4 All light switches, sockets, and controls (especially lift controls and emergency alarms) located at a reachable height;

2.4.5 Signs that are positioned so that they may be read from a wheelchair;

2.4.6 Ramps that are of an easy gradient to facilitate independent movement;

2.4.7 Floor surfaces that are firm, non-slip and reasonably smooth;

2.4.8 Walking distances must be kept to a minimum;

2.4.9 Resting places must be provided at frequent intervals;

2.4.10 Hand rails to provide support;

2.4.11 Steps must be provided as an alternative to ramps, and information provided about how many steps there are between resting places;

2.4.12 Adequate manoeuvring space for walking aids such as crutches and walking frames;

2.4.13 Loose floor coverings such as mats must be avoided;

2.4.14 Hearing enhancements systems to be available (including text-phones);

2.4.15 Background noise levels must be unobtrusive;

2.4.16 Lighting levels must be adequate to facilitate good visibility, including the opportunity to lip read. Lighting levels must be consistent throughout and should not cause dazzle;

2.4.17 Decorative finishes should not cause glare or reflection;

2.4.18 Important building features, including services, must be emphasised by good use of tonal and colour contrast;

2.4.19 Obstructions, particularly above floor level, must be avoided;

2.4.20 Panels of clear glass must be clearly marked across their total width at both wheelchair and ambulatory eye levels;

2.4.21 Building layouts should be simple, logical and predictable;

2.4.22 Signs and information systems must be available in all formats, including high visibility, large print, audible, tactile embossed and braille;

2.4.23 Tactile flooring and guide paths should be provided to give warning of danger and to show safe routes.


2.5 Pedestrian Access

This has been included on the basis that the majority of journeys will include some use of the pedestrian environment. Indeed, for many, who do not feel able to attempt a journey using public transport systems, the use of the pedestrian environment provides the only means of performing essential tasks such as shopping. Moreover, there is little point in providing transport systems that are fully accessible, if the pedestrian route to them is hazardous.

For this reason, pavements and road crossings must be adapted with the inclusion of the following elements:

2.5.1 Clear and even pavements

A pavement contains many obstacles and hazards for people with restricted mobility. The use of street furniture is essential: garbage bins and street lighting are necessary in order to prevent hazards, but should be clearly visible, contrasting with their background, so that they can be avoided by people with visual impairment, and set on the road edge of the pavement to provide maximum pavement width for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs. Repairs that are accessed via the pavement must be clearly marked, and in the case of repairs that involve digging holes, the barrier surrounding the hole should be placed a sufficient width away from the mouth so that it can be detected by a cane in time for the user to change their path. Cycle paths should always be separated from pedestrian paths in such a way that pedestrians are not able to stray on to cycle paths by accident, vice versa.

Paving slabs should of course be evenly laid and have a smooth (but not slippery) surface. Where tactile paving is laid, it must be laid across the entire width of the pavement, to alert the visually impaired pedestrian to the presence of a crossing, or to warn them of a hazard. (See below for further details.) Where the kerb is dropped at a crossing, it should be dropped to a sufficient level that it is flush with the road. This of course prevents the real dangers of tipping a wheelchair or a pushchair into traffic. The gradient of the ramp should be as small as possible, and ideally 5% (1:20), and that of the cross-floor should not exceed 2.5%.


2.5.2 Crossings that are clearly read visually, audibly, and through touch.

Tactile paving, as mentioned above, alerts the visually impaired pedestrians to the location of road crossings and allows them to align themselves in the correct direction to cross. The domes on the tactile surface, embossed on the top of the paving slabs must be sufficiently raised to be read through the sole of a shoe without discomfort, and without causing a barrier to a wheelchair user. The layout of the slabs should indicate whether the crossing is controlled or uncontrolled. The colour of the slabs also plays an important part in communication. In the UK, the colour red is only used to indicate a controlled crossing, where an uncontrolled crossing is buff, or a tone that contrasts with the surrounding slabs.

There has been much recent research into improving road crossing systems so that they are: reachable from a wheelchair, visibly and audibly clear, and give a long enough crossing time for elderly and mobility restricted pedestrians to cross. There are two particularly good examples, one in use in the UK, and one in France:

The PUFFIN pedestrian crossing, in use in some places in the UK, uses an infra-red signal to detect people crossing, and delays the signal accordingly to allow them sufficient time to cross. Alternatively, where it detects that there is no-one crossing, or waiting to cross, it cancels the signal that instructs traffic to stop. In this way, drivers are saved the time and irritation of stopping for no reason. It retains the audible signal, necessary for persons with visual impairment, and it looks much the same as the original pelican crossing from which it was developed. The pedestrian signal box, situated on a kerb side pole, is encased in a yellow box to ensure maximum visibility, and displays the same figures as before, i.e. red to indicate that it is not safe to cross, and green to indicate safe crossing.

In France, a crossing has been developed which uses a rotating / vibrating knob rather than a push button call. The pedestrian using it turns the knob to request crossing, and the knob in turn vibrates for the duration of the safe crossing period. This is particularly useful for deaf-blind people who are able to sense the vibration, where they cannot detect either the audible or visual signals. Similar examples can also be found in both Athens and Dublin.


2.6 Information Systems


An important element in the creation of a fully accessible transport system is access to information. The information must be available in the medium that the user requires and at the time that is required. In addition to information before the journey, travellers also need information on the vehicle itself, so that they can make the appropriate interchanges. Independent travellers also need to be able to recognise when their transport is about to depart, when they are arriving at their destination, and if, in the case of a bus for example, it is about to stop.

Information is also required so that the traveller can better enjoy the journey, for example on an air journey where it may be interesting to know the aircraft's height, speed and position. On a train, it may be helpful to know when and where on the train refreshments are available and whether or not toilets are vacant.

The final information requirement concerns safety and security. It is essential that all passengers are kept fully informed on matters of safety and security, and given clear, understandable instructions when it is necessary for them to respond to a security situation. It follows that on all transport modes except where there is one-to-one personal assistance, information should be available to passengers in both visual and audible forms. Staff should be trained in communication techniques, which may be as simple as using pre-prepared word cards, letter cards, or symbol cards (noting the need for consistency in the use of such symbols).

When audible and visual information is given, particular care must be given to ensure that good practice in terms of audible quality and volume, and visual clarity are followed, and that the information is correctly timed. Good examples of 'on train' audible information can be experienced on the Helsinki metro system.


2.7 Termini, Interchanges and Modes of Transport

2.7.1 General

The best text that we are aware of which covers detailed design specifications for interchanges, terminal and stops is 'Accessible Public Transport Infrastructure' by Barham, Oxley and Shaw. This covers general design principles, siting considerations, access to and within buildings, station accommodation and furniture, bus services and shelter, information and other matters.

2.7.2 Buses

The planning and situation of bus stops should be as logical as possible, with stops that are positioned as close to major destinations as possible, and with the minimum walking distance between each. Research through COST 322 indicates that this will ideally be so that as few people as possible have to walk further than 200m to their nearest stop.

A discussion paper entitled 'Measures To Be Taken Into Account For Bus Stop Planning' was published in April 1993 by the National Transport Council, and adopted by COLITRAH. This gives useful technical guidance on accessible bus stop design and is a companion paper to 'Draft Specifications For The Universal Accessibility Of The Urban Bus', which was approved by COLITRAH in December 1991.

All bus stops and interchanges must be well lit in order to provide all passengers with maximum safety, and to ensure that drivers can see waiting customers. This will also ensure that customers with visual impairment are able to read information, maps and the destination of approaching buses. In order to make the stop as visible as possible, it should employ clear signs in as bright a colour as possible, preferably yellow, with pictorial symbols, and information should also be provided in braille, or embossed.

The most helpful design for bus stops is the peninsular design, as shown below. It protrudes into the road and prevents other vehicles from blocking the boarding and alighting areas, so that wheelchair users and those with ambulatory difficulties are not forced out into the traffic to board the bus. Where bus stops are not of the peninsular design, it is likely that the compatible vehicles will be fitted with a lift system.

The height of the bus-stop floor surface should be raised to match the height of the bus, and the kerb edgemust be tactile embossed with a warning surface.

The space required for a wheelchair user to get on and off a bus will need to take account of any boarding device deployed across the pavement. Where the pavement is raised to the level of the floor of the bus, then wheelchair users will be able turn immediately they leave the bus. However, where a ramp is used, they will not be able to turn until they leave the ramp.

Adequate seating, and priority seating must be provided, and in colder, wetter climates, there should also be weather shelters. Any glass or other transparent full height materials must be marked across their width at the eye levels of both wheelchair using and ambulant passengers, to prevent possible collision.

It is necessary to provide a map of the area so that people can pinpoint where they are and whether they are at the correct stop. Information should be provided in braille as well. Ideally, the map should also indicate the location of other modes of transport so that a real transport chain can be provided. Information should of course be able to be read from a wheelchair as well as from a standing position.

Many countries throughout Europe now use low floor buses as their standard vehicle. In some countries, for example Germany, which has a number of years experience in using the buses, they have become the norm in most towns and cities.

Low floor buses have many advantages for people with disabilities and otherwise mobility restricted people. They provide easy boarding and alighting facilities, and space for wheelchairs and pushchairs so that the owners do not have to transfer onto a standard seat. This not only improves the comfort of the users, but also reduces the time at each stop, making the journey faster, more efficient, and more cost effective.

However, a low floor vehicle is little use without a series of compatible stops. The following details the needs of mobility restricted passengers, and those with disabilities in relation to both the bus and the bus-stop infrastructure.

In Berlin, they have low-floor, kneeling buses which also have a lift. This allows access even when the bus cannot get to the kerb. This is regarded by some as the ideal solution, but the extra cost and complexity of fitting a lift has led others to argue that it would be a deterrent to widescale adoption by bus operators.

The route number and destination of the bus should be displayed on the pavement side of the bus above the driver, using a size and style of font that gives as clear a definition as possible, coloured to give maximum contrast to its background, preferably yellow or white on a black background. Additionally, bus numbers and destinations should also be placed on the nearside of the front door . The provision of audio announcements is ideal, and each bus should indicate which of the entrances is accessible for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs or ambulatory difficulties.

At least one door width should give 800mm clear working width between supports. There should be no steps at this doorway. Ramps or pallets should not exceed 8% in gradient.

Where the entrance has steps, there should be two non-slip supports either side at 700mm apart.

The nosing on steps must contrast in colour with the steps, and there should be side marker lights.

Inside the vehicle, ideally there will be two spaces for wheelchairs or pushchairs, and these should ideally have some securing mechanism to prevent them sliding forward. Having said that, most low-floor bus operators in Europe do not consider this necessary, due to the low speed and high inertia of the bus, compared with other road users.

Handrails should have an embossed surface, and be brightly coloured and contrasting with their surroundings. Yellow or green are ideal . They should be placed at two heights so that they can be used by wheelchair users, children and those who find it uncomfortable to raise their arms, as well as those who prefer to hold a rail above shoulder height. Bell pushes must also be equally accessible from a seated position.

Priority seats (clearly labelled as such) must be provided close to the doors.

Audible information, giving the name or location of the stop is essential since it is sometimes the only way in which a partially sighted person is able to determine where they are. An accompanying visual panel providing the same information will greatly assist those who are unfamiliar with the journey.

In Greece, the government of the Attica area (the wider district of Athens) has produced the following specification (Outline A12) for low-floor bus procurement:

i) the abolition of steps at the entry and at the whole floor of the bus;

ii) low floor about 160mm above the ground ;

iii) kneeling at the right (pavement) side;

iv) a special ramp at the central entrance of the vehicle, moved by a mechanism which on touching the pavement creates a 5% incline;

v) one space for a wheelchair and one for a pushchair are provided.

There are currently over 600 of these vehicles in circulation and there is provision to replace the entire existing fleet of 1800 vehicles with the new type of vehicle.

However, this system has been hampered by the fact that cars and other vehicles use the pavement heavily for parking and, in the absence of compatible peninsular bus stops, wheelchair users are forced into the road in order to board the bus.

Grenoble in France has earned a high reputation for its low-floor buses and compatible bus stops. The design of the low-floor bus itself (manufactured by Heuliez) together with a purpose-built stop provides a very high degree of accessibility.


2.7.3 Trams

The requirements for trams are essentially much the same as they are for buses. However, trams have the advantage over buses in that they often use dedicated routes, and whilst they use dedicated tram stops also, the stop is unlikely to become obstructed by other vehicles. In introducing a tram system, adequate parking facilities must be provided elsewhere in the town or city.

In Vienna, an ultra low floored tram design is at the prototype stage, and will offer good accessibility without the use of ramps or lifts.

A particularly good example of an accessible tram system can be found in Grenoble, France. The system 'le Tag' spreads not only through the centre of the city, but reaches rural areas as well, saving passengers with restricted mobility the chore of using other forms of transport in addition to the trams. The rolling stock provides space for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs. The use of tonal and colour contrast used in handrails, bell pushes and information displays make them clear and easy to use.

The trams provide customers with a boarding ramp via a central doorway on request, though the floor level of the bus has been kept particularly low (350mm above ground level) by placing the electrical equipment, traditionally stored under the floor, in the roof space. A 17.85m long central passage is kept at this floor height.

The noise level of the tram system is extremely low, and the absence of other vehicles means that there is little background noise, which creates disturbance in other transport systems for people with a hearing impairment.

Despite these many impressive features, the system can be criticised on safety grounds. Some bus stops are sited adjacent to tram stops with no change in level between the pavement and the tramway. The absence of tactile markings means that visually impaired passengers alighting from a bus can unwittingly walk into the path of a tram.

Similar dangers exist in the Vienna tramway system, where tram stops are sited in the centre of the road. Passengers alighting from the trams (and indeed low-floor buses which share the stops), can find themselves walking (or rolling) into the path of oncoming traffic. Two solutions exist for this problem. One is to have traffic signals, triggered by the arrival of the tram which stops the traffic while the passengers board and alight. The second solution, which is used in the Helsinki City Transport tram system, is to erect a protective barrier between the tram and the road.

The Netherlands provide a similarly high standard of tram service, the rolling stock and platforms of which have been designed in a way to make it fully accessible to people with most disabilities and with other mobility restrictions. It does not, however, address the needs of its visually impaired customers to any degree of satisfaction.


2.7.4 Light rail

Light rail differs from heavy rail in that, whilst it does not use a different sized gauge from heavy rail, it is able to stop and start at the same short notice as a bus or tram, and can therefore provide access to the centre of cities, with stops at frequent intervals.

The needs of the passenger can be seen as much the same as those for buses, except that the light rail system will require stations, some of which will be shared with heavy rail systems, and all of which must provide the same level access to its customers.

Information about the accessibility of each station, including details of which entrances are most suitable (i.e. which is equipped with lifts or ramps, as opposed to which will require the use of stairs) must be available in advance for potential passengers. This is most important in situations where the station is large enough to have several entrances. Maps and other information, such as how to use the system, how to buy tickets, etc. should include pictorial references and must also be available in braille and large print.

Disabled parking spaces must be provided close to all entrances, and clearly the design of the exterior must indicate the location of entrances. Entrances should be easily distinguished, contrasting in some way with their surrounding structure. This is particularly important where the structure is one consisting of clear glass panels. In this case, the panels must be marked across their width at the eye levels of both wheelchair using and ambulant passengers. Doors set into this type of structure must be marked at the same levels but with significantly different markings so that a passenger who has a visual impairment can easily tell the door from the wall. So, for example, if the fixed glass panels are marked with a black band with a yellow stripe running through the centre, the doors would possibly have a yellow band with black dots running through them or, in the case of automatic doors, large black arrows pointing in the direction that they open. The colours used in this example are ideal as they provide maximum contrast; however, decisions about this type of detail should be made taking the view through the glass panels into consideration, and it is contrast with that background that should be sought.

The layout of the station should be as logical as possible, and should of course provide step-free access for wheelchair users as well as conventional stairs or escalators for those who prefer them. As previously mentioned, information about the number of steps and the frequency of breaks is important in assisting a passenger in deciding whether they wish to attempt to use them. All stair nosing should contrast with the stairs themselves and warning lights should be provided along the side of each staircase. A tactile surface at the top and the bottom of each flight of stairs will issue warning to a partially sighted customer.

Lift controls should be reachable from a wheelchair; controls that run horizontally are preferable, and floor levels should also be marked in braille. Equally, the emergency alarm system should also be clearly marked and provided at wheelchair height. Risk of improper use or vandalism does not outweigh the distress caused to passengers who are unable to locate or operate the alarm in an emergency.

Ticket machines should be at a level where they can be reached from a wheelchair, and displays of instructions should use high contrast colours.

Audible instructions are essential for those passengers who are hearing impaired.

Platform edges must provide both a tonal and tactile contrast to the remainder of the platform. They must also be well lit.

Written information, especially changes to the service, must be provided, and accompanying audio information must be clear enough and loud enough to be heard over background noise.

Rolling stock should have an identical floor level to the platform edge. Doorways should be clearly identified, and preferably fully automatic. Where they operate at the customer's request, which can sometimes cause unnecessary difficulties in locating the doorways for people with visual impairment, the push-button controls must be highly visible and easy to use.

The gap between the rolling stock should be kept to a minimum, and a ramp must be provided on request for the safety of wheelchair users and people with guide dogs.

Inside the train, each carriage should provide adequate space for at least one wheelchair and one pushchair. Handles and grip rails should be at both wheelchair and ambulant shoulder height, as should emergency alarm buttons, and all must be coloured at maximum contrast to their background.

Manchester, in the United Kingdom, provides a light rail system that is particularly well designed in meeting the needs of its customers who have restricted mobility. The Metrolink system is a modified combination of a train and tram that operates on the former railway lines outside the city centre and on-street within the city centre itself.

All rolling stock have level floors throughout, and provide four sets of doors. The two sets closest to the centre of the carriage provide the most direct access to appropriate seating for people with mobility difficulties, including two wheelchair bays and low level contact buttons which allow the passenger to speak directly to the driver, and alert them if extra time is needed to alight. Whilst the doors open on a push button request basis, the central doors are always aligned with clearly marked boarding points on the platform.

Boarding points are all level in height with the floor of the carriage, whilst there are at some stations, a couple of steps leading to the doors at the far ends.

The fold-down seats are the only ones that face sideways although additional leg room is also provided at some single seats within the carriage. Layout of the carriage as well as other helpful information is provided in a comprehensive brochure for customers with restricted mobility so that they are able to understand the system before travelling.

Audible signals are given to indicate that the doors are opening or closing. Upright handrails in a bright orange colour are provided next to the doors, and additional grab rails are provided next to the wheelchair bays. Other handrails, positioned on the top of each seat are coloured in the same grey as the seat. Although this is clearly not ideal, passengers are warned within the brochure that this is the case, particularly the difficulty of gripping such handrails as they are not rounded.

Similarly, passengers are warned that the gap between the platform edge and the floor of the carriage is 75mm and may cause problems in boarding and alighting with a wheelchair.

Telephones on the system are appropriately positioned for wheelchair users. The provision of text phone facilities would enhance this service.

Lastly, although there is little colour or tonal contrast between the floor of the vehicle and the platform edge, this is a situation that can be easily rectified


2.7.5 Metro

As with light rail systems, the compatibility of the station facilities with the rolling stock is of utmost importance. The requirements are much the same, except that metro systems largely use underground routes, making issues of step-free access particularly important. Lighting levels are clearly also a major consideration, especially at entrances to stations since they involve a visual transition from daylight to dark underground conditions.

Due to the autonomy of many metro systems, journeys made on them will frequently involve the use of other transport. For this reason, metro stations should be located within easy reach of major rail and air terminals; and taxi ranks and bus stops should be as close to the entrance as possible, with the result that walking distances mid-journey are kept to a minimum.

The difference between separate routes using the same system must be made as visually clear as possible, preferably by the use of colour and pictorial signal, and since there is no way of establishing your location through scenery once underground, the name of the station, the line on which you are travelling, the route and the direction of travel must be clearly published both visually and audibly at each stop.

Many metro stations will provide interchanges, where two or more lines meet, and in these stations clear directions between routes must be provided at frequent intervals, and on-board announcements made at each stop to tell people where they are and where to change lines. Uniformity in station design is unhelpful and should be avoided. Stations that have been designed to show their individual character and location are of positive benefit. Digital announcements are not necessary if train drivers are trained to make such announcements clearly. Equally, station announcements can be made satisfactorily if the equipment used allows for clarity. Audible announcements should not, however, be made at the expense of visual information. This is not an either/or situation, and both methods of communication are necessary.

Lille in France provides examples of both good and bad rolling stock and station design. All stations are wheelchair and guide dog accessible, providing a choice of lift, escalator or stair access. Lifts are clearly signed but the push button operators are poorly contrasted, and difficult to read as they are not tactile. A key feature of each station is the inclusion of a fixed barrier that runs along the edge of the platform. Trains are aligned with the platform's double leaf sliding doors and do not open until the train has stopped. This barrier is made from glass but has an aluminium bar positioned at roughly a metre above ground level so that passengers do not walk into it.

Some stations use shiny flooring that cause reflection. Whilst some also have good lighting levels, others do not, but strip lighting has been used effectively to identify descending stairs.

Handrails vary in height and diameter from station to station.

Ticket verification machines are easy to operate but can be a little difficult to locate. The machine gives an audible signal when a ticket is proffered in the wrong way. Some stations have piped classical music which can be disconcerting for people who rely on echo-location.

Floor surfaces are non-slip, and in most stations, structural pillars are finished in contrasting colours. Each booking hall has a bank of three telephones, each set at a different height to provide maximum accessibility.

Signs, whilst provided in large lettering, are not as well contrasted as they might be.

There is no provision of station staff, and this is the most disconcerting aspect of the system, for reasons of safety, and the provision of assistance.

London Underground Ltd (LUL) in the United Kingdom are about to introduce a similar system to Lille's of fixed glass barriers on the extension of their Jubilee Line. Whilst the plans have not yet been implemented (due late 1996), they are to have two rather than one contrasting strips running through the panels, making them visible at both ambulant and wheelchair height. Door markings will differ from those of the panels by showing large black arrows pointing in the direction that the doors open set on a yellow background, whereas the panels themselves will have a black band with a yellow stripe running through the centre. Additionally, the platform floor directly in front of the doors will be distinguished via tactile embossed flooring that will contrast tonally with the rest of the platform and will run across the entire width of it to give passengers maximum opportunity to align themselves correctly.

Further up the line, a trial of the Gimson stair climber is being carried out in order to assist passengers in wheelchairs negotiate stairs where there are no lift services. See section 2.10 for further details.

The Athens metro system provides an example of improving the accessibility of an existing line (with the addition of ramps and lifts), and also the design and construction of two new lines (18km in all, with 21 new stations).

Helsinki's metro system started operation in 1982, and was designed to be fully accessible from the outset. Each station has lifts, and the deeper stations also have escalators. Wheelchair accessible toilets are available at the entrance. There is a minimal gap between the platform and the train, which allows wheelchair users to board unaided. The needs of visually impaired people have been taken into consideration, by a tactile warning strip near the platform edge, and also by tactile indicators which mark the boundaries of the shortest train, to prevent visually impaired people falling onto the track. However, these indicators can easily be missed, as they do not extend the whole width of the platform. In addition, there are gaps between each carriage, so that it is possible to fall between them, unlike other designs, where the gaps are shielded by the design of the bodywork. The use of colour-contrasting is good in places, for example where differently coloured floor tiles have been used to increase the visibility of seating areas, but this system is not used consistently; elsewhere they are the same colour. The train entrances would also be improved by colour-contrasting round the doors.


2.7.6 Heavy rail

The requirements for heavy rail are similar as have already been described in other sections, and in particular, light rail and metros. A COST research programme is in progress to investigate and improve the accessibility of heavy rail systems.

Because a journey by heavy rail, however, is likely to be significantly longer, and in many cases international, issues that particularly relate to heavy rail are as follows:

Parking facilities close to the most accessible entrances are essential. These should be reserved for disabled/elderly passengers, rather than exclusively for drivers themselves.

Catering facilities must provide priority seating, and gangways in cafeterias should be of sufficient width to allow for a wheelchair user plus luggage. Furniture, crockery and trays should contrast in colour with their surroundings, and all tables and chairs should have rounded edges. Where tables have been positioned on the concourse itself, they should be surrounded with a clearly visible barrier, in a similar way to any obstruction.

Toilet facilities within the station should be located at floor level. Fixtures and fittings should be both reachable in some cubicles by wheelchair, and in all cubicles should contrast with their surroundings.

Boarding facilities should include the provision of a ramp or lift at the doors closest to the wheelchair bays, and locking mechanisms for the securement of the chair during the journey, which should be operable by the user themselves.

The most essential aspect of inter-country heavy rail travel is that facilities between countries should be as similar to each other as possible, and it is essential that a system of checking this and arranging for services at the end of a journey, for example booking a taxi, is available before undertaking the journey itself.

Because of the possible distance of the journey, rolling stock also require the provision of on board toilet facilities. Disabled toilets should be placed in close proximity to wheelchair bays and priority seating, and in such a way that there is a sufficient turning circle to manoeuvre the chair into the toilets. Toilets should be fitted with low level fixtures and furniture that are operable at wheelchair height, and grab rails must be appropriately fitted. All fixtures should contrast tonally with the background colour.

Assistance request buttons should be placed at both wheelchair and ambulant height.

In Austria, some intercity trains have been made accessible by the use of a portable boarding lift. This is hand-powered, and can thus be moved to any location in the station very easily. It provides accessibility for somewhat elderly rolling stock, with a carriage floor height in excess of 1.5m above platform level! The system works, but is rather slow and a little scary for passengers with vertigo. Internally, one coach has been provided with a wheelchair accessible toilet, which is surprisingly spacious. However, it is a little difficult for a wheelchair user to negotiate the entrance to this coach, due to a narrow corridor and poorly positioned seating, as well as badly positioned door sensors.

Eurostar provides some good facilities, but neglects others, and stations vary in accessibility. One of the main problems with the Waterloo International Terminal is that parking facilities are wholly inadequate, causing a problem for passengers who find walking long distances difficult. Throughout the length of the train, only two wheelchair bays are available. Access is provided to the platforms by means of a lift, but access to the train is via a portable ramp.


2.7.7 Ferries

Terminals for ferry ports have the same requirements as other terminals.

Depending on the size of the ferry, assistance may be necessary when a passenger with reduced mobility is boarding, and adequate securing of the vessel is essential, particularly with smaller ferries, as floor levels can change dramatically and rapidly. Handrails at boarding ramps must be provided on passenger ferries at both wheelchair and ambulant heights, and these must also be provided throughout the vessel, particularly on open decks. Again handrails must contrast with their background. It is of extreme importance that flooring gives maximum grip and that decks are contained to at least a metre on open decks. Ferries that provide cabins must provide a proportion of cabins that are fully accessible, and there should be lift access to all floors.

It is fair to say that most European car ferry services are able to meet the needs of passengers with ambulatory difficulties and wheelchair users. Parking adjacent to internal lifts is usually possible if the company is advised in advance of passengers' needs. By contrast, passengers who use hovercrafts frequently have to be lifted over barriers to gain access to the passenger area.

In Greece, where access to the many islands is generally via ferry, new ferries have been introduced since 1995. Ten of these vessels have two accessible cabins, with accessible toilets, per vessel, and all decks are accessible by elevators or by ramps as well as stairs. In addition, existing vessels have been adapted to a similar standard.

Again, passengers with reduced mobility benefit from legislative protection from the Ministry of Transport who have addressed such issues as the provision of appropriate and safe methods of (dis)embarkation; appropriate toilet facilities, and the provision of a number of cabins with proper facilities in relation to the capacity of the vessel.

Another example of positive design practices is that of the ferry service linking the UK and Eire. The terminal at Ross Laire is the more accessible of the two terminals, in that it has a single level walkway that runs from the ferry through the length of the building.

In Amsterdam, some tourist boats running on the canal system are equipped with platform lifts, enabling wheelchair users to enjoy the sights of the city in a traditional way!

In 1996, the International Maritime Organization approved a set of guidelines 'Recommendation on the Design and Operation of Passenger Ships to Respond to Elderly and Disabled Persons' Needs', and invited Member Governments to bring the guidelines to the attention of ship designers, owners and operators for action.


2.7.8 Air

Most public airports provide international as well as domestic flights, and the terminals can be occupied by hundreds of airlines at once, flying to destinations all over the world. In many cases, terminals are divided according to the varying destinations, and are frequently located on different sites. Therefore information, on approach to the airport, if passengers are arriving by car, should be clearly visible, and provided well in advance of slip roads. Similar audio and visual information must be given on public transport systems that connect with air termini.

A good example of information on accessibility in Heathrow Airport in London is provided by Heathrow Travel-Care's 'Travellers' Information' booklet. This contains information on getting to and from the airport, as well as full details of internal accessibility.

Priority parking facilities for passengers with restricted mobility must be provided as close to the terminal entrance as possible, if not directly outside, as time is an important factor in air travel. The route from the parking space must be clear, level and logical. Again many terminals are glass-faced, and any such panels must be highlighted across their width at preferably two levels, and should be visually distinguishable from the entrance doors themselves. Shelters adjacent to entrances and exits should be provided, along with adequate seating for those passengers waiting to be met.

The airport should have, as an integral part of its design, stations and interchanges for other methods of transport, and walking distances between one and the other must be negligible. Where there is more than one floor level, lift access must be provided.

Within the terminal itself, the layout should be as clear and straightforward as possible. Tactile embossed maps are important, with the inclusion of pictorial symbols, which should then be repeated at the location of each service. Information about flight times should be available at both wheelchair and ambulant levels, and should be provided audibly as well as visually, especially changes to expected arrival and departure times. Most airport and airline staff are well trained in meeting the needs of people with reduced mobility. However, it should never be assumed that all customers with such needs will have made themselves known.

Again, cafeteria, bar and shopping facilities should take account of this in providing furniture, cutlery and crockery in contrasting colours, and ensuring that aisles are wide enough for a wheelchair. Aisles should also provide handrails, and in cafeterias, facilities for resting a cane at the tills.

Seating must be provided at frequent intervals other than within restaurant and cafeteria facilities, and flight information should be visible / audible from these and all other parts of the terminal.

Passengers who have restricted mobility, and in particular, wheelchair users must be offered assistance to board the aircraft, and all passengers with mobility difficulties must be given boarding priority.

The use of tonal and colour contrast is essential throughout the aircraft, and toilet facilities must be easily negotiated, with high contrast fixtures and grab rails.

The recently built Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom, provides a good example of a clear, logical layout of an airport terminal, with good lighting levels throughout. However, because consultation was not sufficient at the design stage, further improvements have been necessary to make Stansted accessible.

Horizontal markings have been used through its many glass panels. Previously these were not used and proved hazardous to visually impaired passengers. Two induction loops have been relocated and marked with the 'Ear and T' symbol. Clearer signage, marking the location of the text phone, has been added, and tonal contrast on the canopy support columns leading from the car park to the terminal are soon to be added. Certain pillars in Terminal One have been marked with contrasting bands of varying width to assess their effectiveness, and modified high-visibility help points on the forecourt and car park are to be added with accompanying pictorial symbols. All of these improvements will make Stansted a far easier airport to use. However, had they been considered as an integral part of the original design, none of them would be necessary now. In addition, the architect would not have had to suffer the international exposure when the terminal was modified.

Not all airports use purpose built tunnels linking the plane to the aircraft; in some airports, passengers board from the tarmac, making boarding and alighting difficult for some passengers with restricted mobility and almost impossible for wheelchair users.

In June 1996, a boarding lift for passengers was introduced in Kjavik, Norway, for use on aircraft. The lift is the result of a Government-funded project in collaboration with disabilities organisations. Powered by electricity, it consists of a steel platform which runs on rails at the sides of standard detachable stairs. User feedback has been extremely positive, and it is anticipated that the lift will be able to be used extensively in smaller airports, partly due to the comparatively low cost of installation. Such is the success of the lift that it will soon be introduced in Oslo as well.

Designers at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris have found an alternative method of meeting passengers' needs: a bus which once adjacent to the aeroplane, raises itself to the height of the plane door. This has the additional benefit that passengers with and without mobility difficulties use the same entrance and exits and that wheelchair users are able to use minimum extra effort when boarding and alighting.


2.7.9 Personal Transport

An increasing number of people with disabilities and restricted mobility are using their own vehicles, that are either adapted to meet their needs or are specially designed.

The design of the vehicle varies tremendously as the needs of the user are individual, and are only established after individual assessments. In the UK, Banstead Mobility Centre offers facilities for carrying out such assessments. Here, Occupational Therapists have equipment which can test reaction times, visual ability, motor ability and strength. Following this, customers are able to test drive a number of cars with different adaptations. Consideration is also made of wheelchair stowage options, and advice given on funding programmes. Such facilities are, however, rare. There are only two such centres in the UK, which makes it very difficult for many disabled people to have access to their services.

In Belgium, Cara, a disabled drivers organisation has a very high reputation for providing driving lessons for disabled people.


2.7.10 Door-to-Door Minibus Transport

The same general principles apply to the design of minibuses as apply to buses. There are, though, some important differences. Firstly, due to the small size (and low inertia) of such vehicles, passengers (and their wheelchairs) need to be restrained. Secondly, interior space is limited, and compromises have to be made between seating capacity and passenger comfort.

Vehicles should, of course, meet the needs of all people with disabilities and other mobility restrictions. All vehicles should use good colour and tonal contrast, and provide wheelchair access, with lifts and locking mechanisms. Flooring should be non-slip and seating should not detract from the width of the gangways.

Due to the nature of door-to-door transport, smaller vehicles are generally used. The authors are not aware of any purpose-designed small accessible minibuses. This is undoubtedly due to manufacturing volume considerations. Consequently, accessible minibuses are invariably conversions of standard commercial van designs.

Vehicle Conversion Considerations

Choice of base vehicle to convert involves many different factors, but from an accessibility standpoint, the following factors should be taken into account:

Rear wheel drive minibuses such as the Mercedes 308D have to accommodate a drive shaft to the rear wheels, so the height of the floor above the ground is usually higher than a front-wheel drive vehicle such as a Renault Trafic. Rear-wheel drive minibuses therefore require at least two steps rather than one, for ambulant passengers. This also has implications for the interior design.

Minibuses with a long 'overhang' behind the rear axles should be avoided, as passengers at the rear (normally this is where wheelchair passengers sit) are subjected to excessive vertical displacements on uneven road surfaces (particularly in traffic-calmed areas). Once again, the Renault Trafic and Master provide good examples. The Ford Transit has also recently been redesigned to reduce the overhang.

Suspension systems vary considerably. This is one area where the Mercedes range scores highly, by being available with adjustable air suspension systems. Even on conventional sprung axles, ride height and stiffness can often be specified to provide optimum comfort.

Not all minibuses provide a high-roof version which allows passengers to stand up inside the vehicle. Between high-roof versions, there are also differences which should be noted.

Even high-roof minibuses generally have insufficient door height, so special arrangements have to be made, for example by cutting and extending the existing doorway. This is also sometimes necessary at the rear entrance.

For both safety and comfort, full height seat backs should be specified. The only safety-approved seat restraints are those designed to be an integral part of a high-back seat, and are of a 'three point, lap and diagonal' design.

Lift Designs

Originally, minibus operators could only choose modified versions of tail-lifts used for transporting goods via lorry, such as the Ratcliff series. The lifts, when not being used, are stowed vertically, inside the vehicle's rear doors. As well as being fatiguing for the driver, these lifts tend to rattle, and are therefore noisy. In addition, their positioning tends to compromise passenger safety in the event of an emergency vehicle evacuation, and reduces rear visibility. An American company, Ricon, now offers a range of semi-automatic electrically operated 'underfloor' lifts, which avoid the problems associated with internally-stowed lifts. Other companies such as PLS have entered the market, and also offer manually powered versions, which avoid some of the reliability problems of the electric models. Not all base vehicles are capable of taking an underfloor lift; paradoxically, the lower-floored minibuses do not have enough ground clearance, and some other base vehicles do not have sufficient space between the rear wheels.


Wheelchair Clamping And Restraint Systems

The inertia of large vehicles such as buses, coupled with low operational speeds (less than 50 kph) means that passenger and wheelchair restraint systems are not mandatory. This is not the case with minibuses. The most commonly-used system is based on the Unwin system of 'tracking' and clamps. This system also allows for variable seating configuration to provide for different wheelchair/ambulant passenger ratios. The Unwin system provides rigid clamping, but the success of the system is of course dependent on the load-bearing abilities of the tracking itself, which must be fitted in such as way to prevent it being torn from the floor in the event of sudden deceleration.

Other systems in use in Europe are based on webbing straps, which are stretched and then tightened by a ratchet mechanism at the front and behind the wheelchair, using secure fixing points on the vehicle.

It must be noted that wheelchair designers pay very little attention to providing suitable fixing points for use in door-to-door transport vehicles. Electric wheelchairs and scooters are particularly troublesome in this regard. The weight of some electric wheelchairs (with occupant) exceeds the limit of some vehicle lifts, and some are also too long to fit on the platform.

The requirement for seated passengers to wear a safety restraint also applies to wheelchair users. To meet this requirement, two systems are in common use. The more popular system is an inertia reel restraint, which clamps onto the Unwin tracking, and provides 'lap and diagonal' security. The other method is to use Fretwell back supports. These devices consist of a solid backrest mounted on a metal pole which fits between the floor and the ceiling of the minibus. They are fitted behind the wheelchair passenger, and provide full harness belts. Some operators feel that they actually compromise passenger safety by inhibiting emergency evacuation from the rear, and by virtue of the potential harm that would result if the support pole collapsed.


Other Issues

Although not directly linked to accessibility, in urban areas, an automatic gearbox option is preferred. This reduces strain on the driver, who can then devote more energy to the passenger. The same applies to power-assisted steering.


Door-to-door transport operators should publicise their facilities widely in a variety of prints including braille, and must be easily contactable. This is vital, as most of the potential users of the service are housebound to a greater or lesser extent.

Many examples of door-to-door transport systems exist throughout Europe. From a vehicle design perspective, good examples can be seen in operation by many community transport operators in the UK, such as Camden, Ealing, Hackney and Wandsworth (London). The Community Transport Association has published many 'base vehicle reviews', as well as a comprehensive minibus conversion specification ('SuperSpec').


2.7.11 Taxis

Strictly speaking, the term taxi applies to those vehicles which can be hailed in the street, whereas those that are ordered by telephone are termed hire cars, but the purpose of this document, the term taxi will apply to both systems. Also, some taxi systems, such as in Helsinki, use accessible minibuses. The technical specifications for these are covered above in the section on door-to-door minibus services.

One of the difficulties of using taxis, especially in unfamiliar cities or countries, is the presence of a localised etiquette that does not appear to affect other forms of public transport in the same way. Deciding on a universal system is an organisational problem that remains unsolved.

Taxis should of course all be fitted with low floors, so that a wheelchair user does not have to transfer from their own chair in order to use the vehicle. High colour-contrast fittings should be incorporated in the design of the vehicle, as should aids to manoeuvre in and out of the seat. Account must be taken in any new design of the needs of arthritic or similarly restricted passengers, for whom bending to get in or out of taxis is painful.

Many companies are exploring the redesign of existing taxis, and many countries use mini vans as an alternative.

In London, the Public Carriage Office has legislated that all taxis must be wheelchair accessible by the year 2000, though the technical specifications are not yet available.

What is really required is for major firms to take the initiative to redesign taxis, and for the design to be adopted consistently throughout Europe.


2.7.12 ShopMobility

ShopMobility is the provision of free loan of electric and manual wheelchairs and pavement vehicles to improve access to a town centre or shopping centre for people with mobility difficulties. It usually also involves the recruitment and support of volunteer escorts to assist shoppers.

ShopMobility operators need to provide a range of scooter and wheelchair designs to suit the differing needs of their customers. Different controls can be used to suit people with different grip strength, bi-lateral abilities and co-ordination. Different seating and control tiller configurations suit people of different sizes. Some people will prefer a scooter, some a wheelchair.

ShopMobility premises have to satisfy two requirements which often conflict with each other. The premises should be as close as possible to, and ideally integrated within, the shopping centre. The premises also need to be within 40 metres of reserved parking spaces accessible by minibus transport, and close to public transport provision such as bus stops and taxi ranks. Specific requirements are as follows: The ShopMobility service requires secure office-type accommodation immediately adjacent to reserved parking for ShopMobility service users. This would be in addition to any parking already provided for 'disabled parking' badge holders, as not all ShopMobility users would also have a badge. Car parking for ShopMobility services should be available at no more than 40 metres distance. In practice, five extra-wide reserved spaces adjacent to the ShopMobility Office would suffice, provided that additional reserved parking is available within 40 metres. In addition, to provide full co-ordination with door-to-door services and taxis (plus, ideally, accessible mainstream bus routes), a drop-off point for these vehicles should also be within 40 metres of and visible from the ShopMobility office. This will enable passengers to wait in the warm and dry. There should be a 'practice' area to allow users to familiarise themselves with the controls on the electric vehicles, before taking them into the shopping area. Preferably this should be under cover. There should be a disabled person's toilet within, or within easy reach of the ShopMobility Office (for users and staff). Parking for at least one minibus should be provided within view of the ShopMobility office. Secure storage area for wheelchairs and pavement vehicles. Area for re-charging of batteries 'in situ'. Air extraction to remove gases produced in re-charging. Workbench-type repair facilities. Water supply, and sink for hand washing and filling buckets etc. Single-phase 240v power supply with multiple outlets (say 10). Reception/office area for desks/filing cabinets. Telephone access points. Kitchen area with sink. Level access or non-slip ramped (less than 1 in 12) access to all areas. Heating/air conditioning. Seating area with view of drop-off point, for four people waiting for accessible transport.

More details on the technical and operational requirements for setting up ShopMobility schemes are available from the National Federation of ShopMobility (NFS) in the UK.


2.8 Special Circumstances of Geography/Topology and Weather

It is recognised that European countries do not share the same climate or topology, and that design standards that are generally recommended in this document are not appropriate in countries where the topology prevents their success. Other solutions must then be sought that are appropriate to circumstance. For example, we have recommended that cycle paths are marked by contrast, colour and by tactile markings. This is clearly not appropriate in countries such as Finland where the ground is covered with snow for significant periods of the year. Because of the sand spread on the ground during these times, the tactile contrast is lost. However, the need for cycle tracks to be separated from footpaths remains, and this is a case where a raised barrier is necessary, though as yet, not widely introduced. Similarly, the tactile surface near the platform edge on the Helsinki metro becomes clogged with snow and debris, making it difficult to detect. Underground heating systems may be necessary to ameliorate these problems.


2.9 Gaps In Provision

Throughout the course of this document, what has become clear is that there are several gaps in the provision of service. As previously discussed, this is often the result of designers having a high level of awareness of one particular type of disability, and very little of others. The most common one is the perception that a vehicle or interchange that is wheelchair accessible, meets the needs of all passengers. This causes sensory aids to be neglected, and in particular audible signals and tactile surfaces. Audible and visual information must be provided together, and, in particular, the simple and inexpensive installation of induction loops at service points would vastly improve the journey of a hearing impaired passenger.


The current lack of standardisation of wheelchairs causes many difficulties. Standardised fixing points should be provided, which would enable the most common fixing systems to be used. Wheelchair manufacturers and lift designers should also agree on a specification, which would allow the purchaser to know that they could happily use their wheelchair on door-to-door transport.


2.10 Innovations

Researchers in the United Kingdom are currently developing a personal voice map for use on London Underground. The map uses a tactile keyboard on which the user types the first three letters of their starting station and then the first three letters of their destination. The voice map will then provide them with audible details of which route to take. It is hoped that the voice map will be ready for trials in the autumn of 1996.

The Gimson stair climber runs on caterpillar type tracks and fixes at the base of a wheelchair. Operated by a staff member, it allows a wheelchair user to descend and ascend flights of stairs within an otherwise inaccessible station. It is currently on trial in an underground station in London. This system has also been in use for a number of years at Clapham Junction railway station in London, but has not proved popular with users. It requires staff intervention, so it cannot be used independently, and many users find it frightening, due to the fact that they are held suspended in mid-air above the stairs.

In Denmark, a professor of architecture has recently produced a CD-ROM which provides architects and designers with a visual tool by which to see the effects of poor access provision in building design and how this may be resolved at design stage without affecting the aesthetics of the building. This first model highlights the needs of people with ambulatory difficulties and wheelchair users, but does not demonstrate how to meet the needs of sensory impaired people. The Danish Centre for Technical Aids and Rehabilitation is about to begin a project that will develop the current CD in order to cover all disabilities. This CD represents major progress as it can be used as a teaching tool for architectural students, and will help them to understand issues before they begin practice. It will be published in several languages in 1996. The concept of this CD would be easily adaptable to the illustration of accessible transport design principles.

RNIB in the UK are beginning trials of a talking sign which can be potentially used in a vast number of situations. It consists of a small transmitter which attaches to the infrastructure of a building and sends an infra red signal giving the information. This information is sensed by a small receiver carried by the passenger. The information is conveyed as a spoken message through a small set of earphones. The signal is transmitted over a considerable distance and becomes clearer as the user turns to face it. Initial trials have shown that users are able to find their way even when a number of information signals are within their range, purely by directing themselves towards a signal when it is most clearly heard. Additional benefits are that the information can be changed on any of the transmitters by recording over the original message, so that passengers can be notified of changes in services. Both the transmitter and the receiver are small and discreet; in appearance, the receiver is similar to a personal stereo. Potentially the message can be transmitted in eight different languages. Initial trials will take place in a number of London Underground's stations, but obviously, there are limitless possibilities. Similar devices have been on trial in the USA for a number of years.