Wheelchair Users Can't Board Trains in Malvern, Despite Ramps

How can a person in a wheelchair get onto the train? They can't, SEPTA said.

A Malvern Patch reader who watched the $9.2 million renovation of the Malvern SEPTA station has been wondering something.

Rob Anderson, a daily rail commuter for more than 12 years, writes:

[T]hey installed all the ADA required ramps, etc. and that is great.  But, how can a person in a wheelchair get onto the train?  Has SEPTA made any indication of how they are going to install ramps for riders to get on/off the train? 

We reached out to SEPTA, and spokesperson Kristin Geiger explained that there's currently no way for someone in a wheelchair to board the train in Malvern, despite the many new ramps. They can, however, request free transportation from Malvern to a nearby station with a high-level platform.  

High-level platforms will be installed in Malvern someday, when the funding is available, Geiger said.

The full SEPTA response is below:

The improvements made to Malvern Station were extremely important as we not only improved pedestrian safety and increased parking - we were able to bring the station one step closer to being Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible.  Under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, SEPTA was able to  fund the construction of a new pedestrian tunnel  and reconfiguration of the parking lots at the Malvern Station to improve pedestrian and vehicle access and safety.  With pedestrian safety being a top priority, a new pedestrian tunnel was constructed between the inbound and outbound platforms to provide safe access to both sides of the station.  
In order to accommodate the new pedestrian tunnel and conform to ADA regulations, the existing stairways had to be replaced and accessible ramps installed. This work was designed to accommodate the future installation of high-level platforms at Malvern Station.  High-level platforms provide all passengers level boarding access to all cars from the platform.  With the current lack of available capital funding, SEPTA is progressing many projects on in a phased approach.
Currently, SEPTA has over 100 stations that are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs. Of these stations, 64 are located on the Regional Rail System.  On the Paoli/Thorndale Line, there are 5 accessible stations with 2 more scheduled to be accessible at the end of 2013.  Passengers requiring level boarding near Malvern can board SEPTA Regional Rail trains at Exton or Berwyn Stations.  Both of these stations are fully ADAaccessible through the use of mini-high platforms.  
Free transportation is also available to or from the nearest accessible boarding location for paratransit registrants.  To learn more about paratransit service, please contact SEPTA Customized Community Transit (CCT) Customer Service weekdays at 215-580-7145. 


Larry February 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM
This reminds me of the concrete landing areas they put around the corners of Paoli pike and Sugartown road last year for wheelchairs. Despite the fact that there are no sidewalks leading up to them for people in wheelchairs to use. http://malvern.patch.com/articles/penndot-installing-ramps-at-paoli-pike-and-sugartown-road
K. Lee February 19, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Larry: exactly !!!
Rob February 19, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I never looked but I wonder if they have a sign indicating that you can't board the train if you are in a wheelchair. Could you imagine rolling your chair all the way up that series of ramps only to find out you can't board your train. Then you have to get your "free transportation" to another station. That's one reason this so called Septa "public transportation" needs major improvements to encourage ridership. Also, why can't rides take a train west of Malvern into the City on a Sunday? Maybe it's me but i think that is insane for a public transit system. One would think SEPTA would make sure they have all funding prior to starting a project. Oh, and I'm pretty certain the original plans called for "canopied platforms."
Bob February 19, 2013 at 10:33 PM
this is a violation of ADA, the American recovery act money had an ABSOLUTE ADA compliance provision in the rules. SEPTA is ignoring access (again) and should have a formal complaint filed against them for misuse of funds. Bob
Regina DiLabbio Klugh King February 19, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Ah, my Malvern. You can't get anywhere from here like you used to with the Shortline buses and Danger's Malvern Taxi! I feel so sorry for the folks needing special bording features on the Toonerville Trolley antiquated Septa equipment. I always feel like I need a steambath or shower after I ride their rails.
Zach Heisey February 20, 2013 at 12:51 AM
The fact of the matter is, that SEPTA is virtually broke, and can barely maintain its current system with ridership revenue, despite its record highs! A lot of this isn't SEPTA's doing (some of it is) but it mainly has to do with a lack of government subsidies and such. Those who awarded the ADA stimulus and grants never calculated exactly how much money SEPTA would need to comply Malvern, and SEPTA only had enough to do the ramps. That's not SEPTAs fault. More service cuts are on the way if more money is not awarded to SEPTA somehow. That means less trains, dirtier trains, less renovations, and a crappier system that SEPTA can do nothing about.
Bob February 20, 2013 at 03:35 AM
and of course if the money comes up short you can be sure SEPTA will be sure to cut the ADA component. the contract for the money meant access not delay. the fancy brickwork would be more than fancy enough to maybe been enough to at least build a mini high platform.
Rob February 20, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Wasn't this project part of the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ? I'm pretty certain SEPTA had to make a presentation/bid to acquire this money from the government. One would think when applying for funding for a specific project they would have all facts and figures calculated so they would know the actual cost. And why would you start a project before securing all the funds needed to properly complete it.
Ashley VanSant February 20, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Why did SEPTA have to waste so much money and ruin the landscape at Malvern with those ramps? Anyone in a wheelchair could simply roll up to the top of the hill and over to the station parking lot. Imagine how much it will cost to maintain these ramps and new tunnel over time. What a complete waste and this shows how out of touch regulations and SEPTA management is with what we can afford and what we need. We need more and better service, not useless amenities!
Ashley VanSant February 20, 2013 at 05:18 PM
SEPTA doesn't replace stations to make them ADA accessible, they do it to spend our money. In the past 10 years (long after ADA went into effect), SEPTA has replaced the Somerton, Fox Chase and Langhorne stations with non-ADA compliant platforms. SEPTA is not required to install high platforms, but is encouraged to make some access like a ramp. But evil SEPTA are masters of deception and spending. Watch how long these new trains don't last. They are safety hazards.
Scargosun February 21, 2013 at 03:30 PM
"Anyone in a wheelchair could simply roll up to the top of the hill and over to the station parking lot." Did you ever try it? I agree that it is idiotic that SEPTA installed the ramps without installing a way for a person in a wheelchair to actually get on the train but if you have ever crossed that parking lot you would know that it would not be simple. Also, the station does "need" full handicapped access as do all the stations.
Ashley VanSant February 21, 2013 at 04:14 PM
No I've never tried it, but looking at that layout I'm perplexed that there wasn't a more cost effective way of doing this. Really, imagine the cost of maintaining all that stuff, not to mention the liability of keeping it de-iced during the winter. SEPTA is eventually going to price themselves out of business, or take all our money trying to pay for it. But back to the original point, its ludicrous that not even a ramp to get on the train was installed. They're low cost items compared to what the rest of this junk cost.
Judy February 21, 2013 at 04:33 PM
More government rules that can be broken if money is there to be spent. Don't reduce taxes or build anything that is useful and needed if someone on top can put more money in their pocket. That's the American way. At least SEPTA commuters in wheelchairs can get some exercise going up the ramp to watch the trains go by and have a thrilling ride down the ramp afterwards. Judy


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