“In order to provide as many people as possible with barrier-free access to public transport (PT), the government in Germany created the “Passenger Transportation Law” (NTL). The aim of this law is to ensure as much accessibility in public transport as possible by 1 January 2022,” explained Günther Gruber, project manager at MENTZ.
What does “barrier-free accessibility” mean exactly?
According to German law, “barrier free accessibility” is […] “the findability, accessibility and usability of common areas designated for public use by all people”. With the NTL, transport authorities are given the task of removing as many of these barriers as possible and making universal access to public transport as easy as possible.
In order to use public transport, wheelchair users must first know where to find suitable access to a bus or train (“findability”). Not all stops are fully wheelchair-accessible. Some platforms are only accessible by stair and sometimes the vehicles on said platforms cannot always be boarded at the same level. In the long term, the primary task of the stop owners is to make as many stops as possible barrier-free and accessible. German law also recognizes that this ideal is not immediately feasible everywhere and mentions an alternative: any remaining barriers for riders of public transport must be clearly marked and “alternative solutions (alternative routes and/or trips)” must be indicated. “In short, if all stops cannot be made wheelchair-accessible, at least all accessibility information for public transport should be made available,” said Gruber.