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Mar 16

Transit Accessibility Part 2 – An Inside Look at Rio Metro's Bus Service

Posted on March 16, 2022 at 12:00 AM by Riann Martinez

For the second half of our two-part series on transit accessibility, Liz Carter, Rio Metro’s Assistant Transit Director-Bus, provides an overview of the accessibility features at Rio Metro bus stops while boarding and riding, bus operations training, and more. 

Rio Metro operates bus routes in Sandoval and Valencia Counties, as well as Dial-a-Ride service for residents of the City of Rio Rancho, the Pueblo of Isleta, and Valencia County. These transportation services are fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. 

Bus Stop and Shelter Features

  • Rio Metro Bus Stop in BelenAll stops are ADA compliant with a required 5’x 8’ concrete pad
  • Rio Metro works with each city, county and tribal entity and/or the New Mexico Department of Transportation to determine the safest locations to place bus stops and shelters
  • Preferred placement is at a lighted intersection with a crosswalk, when possible
  • Path of travel is considered to make sure there are no environmental barriers that would prevent people from crossing the street or going down the road to where they need to go

“We have a whole checklist that we follow,” said Carter, referring to how Rio Metro assesses bus stop and shelter locations for pedestrian and passenger safety.

Boarding and Riding

  • Ramps or lifts are deployed when ambulatory passengers need assistance boarding the bus
  • Ramps are deployed for individuals with mobility devices to board the fixed route and Dial-a-Ride service; then the operator will secure the mobility device
  • For buses with lifts (instead of a ramp), the operator will exit the vehicle to deploy the lift for individuals with mobility devices to board the bus and then get back on the bus to secure the mobility device
  • Rio Metro Bus Route in JemezOperators are required to assist individuals needing help entering and exiting the bus
  • Operators secure individuals in wheelchairs with a 4-point securement
  • There are between two and four dedicated spaces for wheelchairs on all Rio Metro buses depending on their size
  • All buses have priority ADA seating located directly behind the operator for individuals with canes, crutches, visual impairments, etc.
  • On Rio Metro’s fixed route services, operators are required to call out bus stops for individuals who have a visual impairment
  • There are internal and external speakers on all Rio Metro buses to notify passengers of what route they are on and what direction they are going 
  • The Title VI / Non-Discrimination Notice is visible on all buses 
  • Service animals are allowed to ride with (and must be under direct control of) passengers

“We also have low-floor buses on our fixed routes in Valencia County,” said Carter. “The operator will hit a button and the right-front of the bus will lower down, or ‘kneel’, so individuals don’t have to take a big step.” 

Operator Training

  • Rio Metro’s operators are trained to proficiency on all features of the bus, including operational and accessibility, and receive refresher training every two years
  • Every two years operators are required to have ADA Passenger Sensitivity Training, which teaches them how to assist individuals with different types of disabilities

Customer Service

  • Reduced fares are available, including for individuals with disabilitiesRio Metro Bus Wheelchair Securement Valencia County
  • Individuals can request documents such as schedules and other information in an alternate format (e.g. Braille, large print, audio) by contacting Customer Service at 866-795-7245
  • Persons with a hearing or speech disability can contact Rio Metro or schedule a ride by calling 711 for TTY-based telecommunications relay service
  • Spanish speaking employees are available to assist with services

“Our staff is happy to provide this service to the communities they serve,” said Carter. “These individuals may not have any other transportation options, and it improves their quality of life.”