You may have noticed a change in the priority seating area on some of Metro’s buses lately. Metro is retrofitting its 60-foot low-floor articulated bus fleet with a new configuration for the priority seating area that matches the one found on the newest hybrid buses in service (6800 series). The new configuration features a split 1+2 flip-up seat and a barrier in front of the first row of front-facing seats. The barrier replaces the flip-up front-facing 2-person seat. Metro fleet procurement says this arrangement will “enhance passenger safety.” In addition to enhanced safety, the new arrangement adds an extra seat while a wheelchair user is occupying the space, even if it means a net loss of 2 seats per bus.
In related news, Metro is currently evaluating rear-facing ADA seating positions for passengers with mobility devices and a passive restraint system. The rear-facing position and passive restraint system is widely used on European and Canadian transit buses and can be seen locally on Swift BRT buses. No decision has been made to proceed with their installation, which could be on all new buses or specific buses like RapidRide.