Accessible Transportation Around the World


June 2005 Newsletter




Full Speed Ahead in Vietnam


The Peoples' Committee of Hanoi is conducting a feasibility study for a World Bank funded project for an initial two accessible bus rapid transit corridors. The Hanoi Urban Transport Development Project hopes to start construction in 2006. AEI's report following our work in Vietnam in late 2004 has been translated into Vietnamese and distributed to Vietnam's Ministry of Transport and World Bank staff in Hanoi who work with Vietnamese officials on the project.


The Vietnamese Ministry of Transport is rapidly creating a legal framework to promote accessible transport, including regulations issued in January, 2005, requiring new bus stations and terminals to incorporate accessible design, guidance released in February requiring enhanced access on inter-city transport, and work on access standards for city buses scheduled to be completed by September. Meanwhile, work is proceeding on the design of access features for buses in Vietnam and the Ministry of Transport hopes to build six prototype accessible buses and a prototype accessible rail car. More than 200 transport and public works officials participated in a training workshop in April, 2005, to promote the enforcement of barrier-free construction for transport facilities as well as pedestrian facilities such as sidewalks.


At the suggestion of AEI, nine officials from different departments of Vietnam's national Ministry of Transport visited Hong Kong in December to observe the highly developed accessible transport in that city. The one week visit was hosted by Joseph Kwan, a leader of Hong Kong's accessibility efforts. Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH) helped arrange the tour from its office in Hanoi, as part of a larger program of cooperation with the Ministry of Transport using funds from US-AID


-- Based on reports by Pham Thi Cam Ly of Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped, Gerhard Menckhoff of the World Bank, and Joseph Kwan in Hong Kong. See the report on Vietnam in our January 2005 Newsletter.




News from Latin America



Policy frameworks for transport for all

New Laws and Technical Norms Mark Latin America's Progress


BRAZIL TAKES THE LEAD: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed landmark legislation into law on December 2, 2004, mandating universal access to be phased into Brazil's huge public transport fleets in a process to be completed in a ten-year period by December, 2014. The law embraces all forms of land, air, and maritime passenger transport, emphasizing the use of universal design to integrate pedestrian ways with transit stops, terminals, and vehicles. The law sets deadlines for the near-term completion of technical norms for the inclusive design of bus, subway, commuter rail, boat, and air transport modes. Brazil's National Public Transport Association (known as the ANTP in Portuguese) played an important role in bringing together the perspectives of disability advocates, transport operators, and manufacturers during the creation of the new law. It is estimated that less than 5% of Brazil's vehicle fleet is currently accessible, based on a survey of 218 cities with more than 60,000 inhabitants. Go to, for more information on the law. . . . Perhaps in anticipation of the new law, a revised and enlarged access standard for Brazil's subways and urban trains was approved in recent months. All Brazilian accessibility norms can be viewed in Portuguese at (Based on reports by Nazareno Stanislau Affonso, Gildo dos Santos Filho, and Angela Werneck)


MEXICO PASSES A NATIONAL DISABLED PERSONS LAW: The Mexican legislature passed national legislation in April which includes a section on public transport and communications, mandating a spectrum of strategies to promote accessible land, air, and maritime public transport for persons with disabilities. The law promotes the creation of technical access specifications, the creation of public education campaigns, and the provision of financial incentives to bus companies which take action to enhance the use of their services by disabled persons. . . . Key government agencies in Mexico have also agreed to move ahead with technical guidelines for accessible air service. (From reports by Francisco Cisneros and Taide Buenfil)


VENEZUELA: Work is moving forward on norms for access to the built environment, per a report from Pedro Rafael Velasquez in Caracas.


COSTA RICA: National norms with technical requirements for public transport vehicles and for accessible taxis have been forwarded to AEI by Mervin Quesada of Costa Rica's Public Service Regulatory Agency.



Recent accessible transit forums in Latin America


ARGENTINA: Two hundred participants gathered for a two-day forum in Buenos Aires in December, 2004, sponsored by Fundaci—n Rumbos and other agencies, with AEI's Tom Rickert one of the featured speakers. The forum was the climax of a year long series on "Accessible Cities" which included events in Chivilcoy, Córdoba, Ituzaingo, San Martín de los Andes, San Miguel, and Tigre, attended by a total of 425 additional participants.


BRAZIL: Several hundred participants met in Rio de Janeiro for a conference on universal design sponsored by Adaptive Environments (Boston), Rio's Center for Independent Living, and other agencies. The conference issued a Charter on Universal Design for Inclusive and Sustainable Development calling for the global application of inclusive design. AEI coordinated a workshop on accessible transport as part of the event. AEI especially thanks workshop leaders who donated their time, including Nazareno Stanislau Affonso, Renato Boareto, Angela Werneck, and Angela Carneiro da Cunha (all from Brazil); Gerhard Menckhoff of the World Bank; Silvia María Yzarra Luyo (Peru), and Yoshi Kawauchi (Japan). We thank Angela Werneck for help in coordinating the event and congratulate her on her successful defense in April of her master's degree thesis on "Universal Design, Accessibility and Modal Integration: A Study Considering the Transit System of Rio de Janeiro."...The Third Conference on Access to Public Transport was held in São Paulo in April, 2005, while a similar event was held in Recife in November, 2004.


CUBA, VENEZUELA, ARGENTINA: Claudia Sánchez of Bogotá & Eduardo Alvarez of Montevideo made presentations on access to public space and transit at a series of conferences co-sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization this past year, including workshops in Havana, Cuba; Maracaibo, Venezuela; and Córdoba, Argentina.




Projects and Trends




TRANSMILENIO IN BOGOTA: A spectrum of good practices in Bogota's Transmilenio express buses are being replicated around the world. Transmilenio buses run on exclusive rights-of-way to minimize delays. Passengers enter and exit via a ramp to the station platform, using proximity debit cards to pay their fares. Station attendants assist passengers with disabilities. Station and bus doors open together to provide safe level entry into the buses. A securement position for passengers using wheelchairs is provided opposite the door nearest the driver. . . . Replicating a spectrum of good practices pioneered in Brazil and then adapted in Bogotá's Transmilenio system, bus rapid transit corridors, partially funded by the World Bank, are now planned or under construction in the Colombian cities of Medellín, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Pereira, and the Bogotá suburb of Soacha, while a similar system funded by the Inter-American Development Bank is under construction in Cali. Similar express corridors are proposed, planned, under construction, or in operation in most Latin American nations and are also found in Beijing, Jakarta, Seoul and Brisbane. Two BRT corridors are proposed in Hanoi while studies are going forward for BRT systems in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Nigeria. AEI hopes to review the global spread of BRT systems in future newsletters.


INNOVATION IN MEDELLÍN: Accessible Metrocable links tens of thousands of low-income Colombians living on the steep mountainside above Medellín with jobs and services, as well as providing a superb view for tourists. Each of Metrocable's 90 suspended cabins holds ten passengers. In one of the world's more unusual (yet accessible) intermodal transfer points, Metrocable links with the Medellín Metro, an elevated commuter rail line.



ARGENTINA: 1,500 of Buenos Aires' 8,800 buses are low-floor, but several design and operational problems have been identified. Argentina's National Commission for Transport Regulation recently issued new guidelines to improve the technical operation and maintenance of access features.




Washington Roundtable Event Continues a Tradition


A Roundtable series for the international development community continued in Washington DC for its seventh year in January, 2005. The series has been coordinated by Access Exchange International, and was held in facilities donated by APTA: The American Public Transportation Assn. This year's event was co-sponsored by the World Bank's Transport Sector, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Committee on Accessible Transport and Mobility of the USA's Transportation Research Board. Ann Frye, Head of the Mobility & Inclusion Unit of the UK's Department for Transport, moderated the roundtable presentations on progress and challenges from around the world. AEI thanks ICAT – the International Centre for Accessible Transportation in Montreal, Canada – for joining AEI in underwriting the expenses to organize the roundtable. Participants in recent years have included practitioners from a dozen countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.



News and Notes from Around the World




Bangkok, Thailand: "Mass Transit for the Disabled" was the theme of a gathering by several hundred disabled participants and their friends in Bangkok in November, 2004. The Thai Ministry of Transport has agreed to form a new committee on accessible transportation with substantial inclusion of persons with disabilities. Access legislation is being considered by the Thai legislature. – Report by Topong Kulkhanchit


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: A new van was added in January, 2005, to the fleet of Persatuan Mobiliti dan Kuala Lumpur. The agency began with two vans in 2002 and now provides service to 350 registered users, operating weekdays and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Support for the van and for operating costs was provided by HSBC Bank Malaysia and other local sponsors. – Report by Halimah Abdullah of Mobiliti.


China: More than two hundred participants took part in a seminar on "Transport for All" in late 2004 in Hong Kong. Speakers from the United Kingdom, Japan, and mainland China participated in the forum, with topics including international trends in universal design, bus and taxi accessibility, wheelchair user safety in vehicles, and a special emphasis on access at the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing.


India: Samarthya, an NGO in Delhi, reports continued workshops, access audits, and training sessions to promote accessible transport with government agencies ranging from the Delhi Metro to the Mumbai domestic airport, the Government of Goa, and the Indian Ministry of Railways. -- Report from Sanjeev Sachdeva


Bangladesh: More detailed access guidelines have been recommended by a study of the Bangladesh National Building Code, per a report from Disability World.


Israel: The Accessibility Chapter of Israel's Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law was approved by the Knesset in March, 2005. The far-reaching Law states that all public places, and every service provided to the public, must be accessible to people with all forms of disability. The Law strengthens existing accessible transport regulations by promoting access to taxis, intercity buses, and rented vehicles. -- report from Tirza Leibowitz of Bizchut, an Israeli NGO


Australia: A National Transport and Mobility Conference was held in Freemantle, Western Australia, March 30-31, 2005. -- report from Campbell McKee.


Japan: Accessible transport was on the agenda of a joint meeting in March, 2005, Tokyo with officials from Japan's Department of Transport and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport. . . . At the invitation of DPI-Japan, Walter Spillum conducts intensive orientation on accessible transportation for international visitors at the DPI office in Tokyo.




Paris: The European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) recently reported on measures to strengthen policy frameworks to promote accessible transport in the region, including the nations of central and eastern Europe. Delayed implementation of policies is a concern to the ECMT. The report recommends improved involvement of disabled people in the process. According to the report, better compliance mechanisms are needed as well as more specific regulations so that manufacturers and transport operators and regulators know what is expected of them. . . . In part to address this need, Improving Access to Public Transport was recently published by the ECMT with the aim of increasing cooperation between public transport providers and local authorities. AEI notes that this is an especially critical issue in many developing regions and urges readers to contact the ECMT for a free copy while supplies last: write to


Rural Transport Fostered in UK: Initiatives by the United Kingdom's Countryside Agency have resulted in model projects. One project lends manual wheelchairs and battery-powered scooters to assist disabled persons to travel to the nearest town to shop, while a second project assists those with mental health problems through transport information, expanded minibus services, and travel training. For information, e-mail to or write to The Countryside Agency, Dacre House, 19 Dacre Street, London SW1H 0DH, in the UK.


Russia: Saint Petersburg: A City for All, is the title of a guide to actual and proposed access features in one of Europe's most historic cities. The ambitious plan links accessible low floor bus routes, waterway transport, and historic buildings. Planning included extensive use of accessibility audits of public buildings and other features. – Report from Irina Sergeeva, an access specialist in St. Petersburg.








North America


Canada: The 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED) will be held June 18-21, 2007, in Montréal. The registration fee will be approx. $550 Canadian per delegate, and $300 Canadian for students, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Information is available at AEI urges transport officials and others around the world to participate in TRANSED. Now may be the time to seek to include participation in the annual budget of your agency. . . . . Evaluating Public Transit Accessibility: Inclusive Design Performance Indicators for Public Transportation in Developing Countries, has been co-authored by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute and Tom Rickert of AEI. The report is available at the VTPI web site at


USA: Richard Weiner, a senior associate with Nelson/Nygaard transportation consultants in San Francisco, was elected President of AEI's Board of Directors at our January, 2005, meeting. Dr. Christo Venter, a leading researcher in the field of accessible transport in Africa, was a guest at the meeting.





South Africa: Demand is running high in South Africa for the UK-sponsored publication, Enhancing the mobility of disabled people: Guidelines for practitioners, with forty requests received according to Christo Venter in Pretoria.


• Kenya: In a closely watched initiative, the Kenyan government has initiated enforced mandatory installation of speed governors in all matatus (minibuses) and other transport vehicles and the use of safety belts by passengers and motorists – measures which enhance accessibility for all passengers. A BBC report noted that some 3,000 Kenyans are killed on roads every year, mainly in accidents involving matatus. The reforms are reported to have caused a 74% reduction in this accident rate. . . . An International Conference on Accessible Tourism is planned in Nairobi, September 28-30, 2005. Info at



Call for Research on Unpaved Rural Bus Stops


Access Exchange International issues a call for research into a simple curb piece to enhance access to unpaved bus stops on unpaved roads. Explanation: There is a need to test an approx. two-meter long brightly painted curb piece to identify the stop, safely separate intending passengers from traffic, provide a color contrast for passengers with reduced vision, provide a barrier which can be detected by blind persons, and provide solid footing to help all passengers reach the first step of a bus stopped next to the curb piece. Research is needed to know how much road maintenance or other work is required to reduce ruts caused by buses frequently stopping at the curb.




We gratefully acknowledge a donation to help underwrite the distribution of the printed version of this Newsletter, from


Adaptive Engineering Ltd.


Adaptive Engineering manufactures portable wayside lifts to make train stations, airports, and boats more accessible. They also provide both lifts and ramps for boarding regional aircraft, as well as a planeside loading system for wheelchairs and scooters to prevent damage from mishandling. For further information, e-mail to or go to