Plastic strips on Orange Line platform at Back Bay presage new waiting area

Waiting strips. Photo by Charles Rosenberg.

Charles Rosenberg spotted these new plastic strips on the platform at Back Bay the other day.

Turns out the MBTA is trying out Customer Assistance Areas at select stations for passengers with mobility and sight issues:

In an effort to improve service for our customers, the MBTA is testing out a new area on the platform where customers can wait to seek assistance in boarding the train, locating a different platform, or finding the exit.

The areas - there is currently one on the Red Line at South Station - have phones so that riders can request aid from a T worker, "bridge plates" to make boarding trains easier, improved lighting and braille signs.

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was at BackBay

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Yesterday and wondered what these were... And I was correct, probably for vision impaired folks who use canes to get around.

Those Braille

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Jokes get pretty old.

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Many countries use those same

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Many countries use those same strips to actually direct the blind around the station to the proper boarding area. That would probably be more helpful as it allows full independence, and not reliance on an employee that may or may not be around.

And they don't just use them,

And they don't just use them, they are required to have them. The US' accessibility requirements (ADA) are heavily-biased toward physically disabled people and not visual and auditory impairments. Tactile strips are fundamental wayfinding aids in many countries.

Tactile Guide Paths

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Amen!!! One of my biggest fustrations with the ADA is that the law is heavily biased in the favor of those with physical disabilities. Tactile bars, similar to the ones at Back Bay and South Station, are commonplace in countries like Spain and Japan. And although I feel as though they would need something more, such as braille signs at a given point of interest (i.e. elevators, stairs, or exits), these guide paths would be a big step in providing wayfinding methods for those with visual impairments. Kudos to countries like Japan who keep the needs of all in mind.

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They tested these at Bowdoin

They tested these at Bowdoin over a year or two ago. I remember asking an inspector if they were going to finally install them everywhere else about a year ago, and he flat out had no idea what they were even for. You'd think they'd tell their employees about this... But its good to see they went ahead and installed them elsewhere.