Rail accessibility tour given to Oahu residents
By Bryce Moore,2023-06-03
HALAWA (KHON2) — Oahu is less than a month away from the public opening of rail, but officials gave a sneak peek of the Halawa station so some disabled residents can get familiar on Friday, June 2.
KHON2.com found out the tour went well, but there is room for improvement.
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The first thing riders will see at Halawa are entry gates; a green arrow means entry and a red “X” means exit.
“We do have larger fare gates at the end to make sure that it’s accessible for anybody who is using a wheelchair or if they are bringing a bike on to the system or anything like that,” said Patrick Preusser, Honolulu Department of Transportation Services Rapid Transit director.
There are elevators at every rail station, with two at Halawa. Braille is available at the ticket booth for blind or visually impaired folks, but one pointed out the angle is a bit tricky.
“And sometimes a person my height or even considerably shorter, would have difficulty angling their hands to be able to touch it in a way without squatting down to actually read it,” said Kapolei resident Dean Georgiev.
Transportation services took notes for future upgrades.
“It is slightly a bit awkward to feel that Braille at the, at the current angle. But the good news was that it was all accurate and correct,” Preusser said. “So, always room for improvement!”
The trains are marked with American with Disabilities Act (ADA) stickers to indicate where the closest accessible seats are.
“And then as you can see over here, these are for elderly and disabled, over here we have the same thing with the ADA sign,” said Jason Lurz, Hitachi Head of Operations and Maintenance North America. “Anywhere it’s a flip-up seat, it’s yours to control.”
Doors will open for 20 to 28 seconds, but riders will get a heads-up.
“So, you always get an indication a minute to 3 minutes before a train is arriving and departing,” Preusser said. “And the good thing is we are operating on a clock-based schedule, so every 10 minutes you’re going to see another train and have an opportunity to ride.”
KHON2.com asked a Makakilo resident about how she would grade the accessibility of the Halawa station.
“A grade? Oh, definitely a B+,” said Makakilo resident Charlotte Townsend. “I think it can work its way up to A. I think Hitachi is very open to anything that we want to share with them and they’ve been very responsive.”
The first phase of rail will open on Friday, June 30 and will be free to the public through Tuesday, July 4.