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Report says MBTA's aging elevators could use a boost

Two decades after the MBTA began an extensive renovation of its rail lines, passengers with disabilities are still having difficulties gaining access to the transit system, a new report states.

The 18-month independent study on the MBTA's RIDE program for disabled passengers will be presented at a public meeting Tuesday, along with the T's action plan in response to the report's recommendations.

Led by TranSystems Inc. of Medford and Planners Collaborative of Boston, the $250,000 study was funded with a grant from the Federal Transit Authority.

The objectives of the report, which was initiated in 2005 at the request of the T's Access Advisory Committee and The RIDE Advocacy Project, were to improve the accessibility of services and to develop service-monitoring procedures.

Although the T's modernization in the 1980s included improvements, the report found that some of the aging systems are not always functional. As a result, it stated that certain services are not as usable as they could be.

The review found that in March 2005, 42 percent of the 113 T station elevators were at least 15 years old, the age at which elevators are typically replaced, and that inspection and reporting wasn't centralized. Elevator maintenance was being performed during the day, and maintenance efforts were weighed to servicing faulty elevators and away from preventive maintenance inspections.

As part of its recommendations, the report suggests the T establish an elevator replacement program, perform preventive maintenance during nonservice hours, and consider installing elevator status information on message signs so they can be read by a passenger before entering the station.

The report will be presented at 1 p.m. at the State Transportation Building. The report can be viewed at mbta.com.

RICHARD THOMPSON

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