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DASH leadership says bus service has work to do to improve accessibility

A DASH bus at Southern Towers (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Nearly half of Alexandria’s bus stops do not meet federal accessibility standards.

It’s been a good couple years for Alexandria bus service DASH, but a new report presented to the City Council at a meeting this week by Chairman David Kaplan highlighted areas where there’s still room to improve.

“Much work needs to be done,” said Kaplan. “As good as the investments are that we’ve made in additional transit services, there are challenges when it comes to access to transit stops. The wait at the stop or the boarding process matters a lot when we have an older adult or a person with disabilities considering whether they can make a trip safely and comfortably on transit.”

Kaplan said that 42% of bus stops in Alexandria do not meet the standards laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many of those are due to non-compliant boarding areas.

Additionally:

  • 18% of stops are in locations where parked cars are permitted to block the boarding area
  • 22% of stops do not have a shelter
  • 46% do not have a bench

Kaplan said only around 7% are built to what is considered best practices.

Beyond accessibility, City Council member Canek Aguirre said DASH and the city could be doing more to improve safety at bus stops.

“We [should] do audits at night as well to take a look at lighting,” Aguirre said. “We’ve definitely had some issues. I rode the bus with an individual working at The Fresh Market in the Bradlee Shopping Center. We got off at the same stop and it was pitch black. There was some greenery hanging over and blocking the lighting. Especially when it’s wintertime and it gets darker, lighting is another crucial piece when we talk about bus stops and shelter.”