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People with disabilities give feedback about the accessibility of the Honolulu rail

The city is set to take control of the first segment of Honolulu’s rail system on Friday. Honolulu transportation officials hosted a couple dozen members of the disabled community last week to get feedback about accessibility on the train and its stations.

For those with disabilities, the rail will offer an alternative to TheHandi-Van or TheBus. Dean Georgiev, who is blind, said it was helpful to tour one of the stations.

“I thought, for the most part, it’s a good experience. I did notice a couple of things that maybe in time could be improved. But that’s typical of anything done initially, you know, you sometimes have things that evolve into things that are better over time,” he said.

Georgiev said the height of the Braille on the HOLO card machines was a bit low for him to reach comfortably.

“Maybe in future evolutions of those machines, the way the labeling would work, the machines could be designed better for people to more universally access the Braille,” Georgiev told HPR. “But from what I saw today, I gave them pretty good grades as far as being considerate about what is necessary.”

The rail system features doors that reopen if they detect body parts and accessible seating signage visible from the platforms.

“There’s been a lot of thoughtfulness that’s been put into the design and implementation of the system. So we’ve used all of the industry best standards, and of course, in compliance with all laws and regulations,” said Patrick Preusser, director of rapid transit at the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services.

Interim passenger operations are scheduled to begin June 30 between the Kualakaʻi Station in East Kapolei and the Hālawa Station near Aloha Stadium.

“We would certainly encourage everybody and their family members to come out and ride firsthand. It’s a beautiful system. The community has a lot to be proud of,” Preusser added.

Waikīkī resident Kirby Shaw, who uses a wheelchair, may have to wait several years to jump on the train in the urban core but was curious to learn firsthand about maneuvering on the rail system.

“I think after a few uses, people will figure out what works best for them,” Shaw said.

The rail project will welcome riders at the end of the month with free rides through the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Passengers must tap a HOLO card to ride for free. The trains are slated to run every 10 minutes on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. and on weekends between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi will sign papers Friday to formally accept the first 11 miles of the system from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

Source: Hawai’i Public Radio