A floor that is low.

Specifically, in the case of public transportation, an internal vehicle floor at or below kerb level. This allows the elderly, or rather in general those who have difficulty climbing stairs, easier access to the public transit vehicle. Additionally, it allows for incredibly faster boarding for those in wheelchairs, as there are no cumbersome wheelchair lifts to deal with.

In Portland, OR, we have two types of low-floor vehicles in our public transit system. The first to come were the low-floor MAX light rail cars. The stops for the light rail are platforms about 30cm above street level. The low-floor MAX cars' internal floor is at exactly the same height as the platform, but there is a bit of a gap between the car and the kerb. When a wheelchair user wishes to board or deboard, small ramps that bridge the gap are extended. This takes about 7 seconds. Every MAX train has at least one low-floor car.

The second type of low-floor transit vehicle we have are the more recent low-floor busses. These busses have floors somewhat above kerb level, about 5cm. They are very easy to board for those who can walk. When a wheelchair-user wishes to board, a ramp built into the floor raises up, flips over, and lands on the kerb for the passenger to board/deboard. This is not as fast as the MAX, it takes about 12.5 seconds, but it's still faster than the wheelchair lifts that are built into the stairs of older busses.


When the Portland Streetcar construction is finished in early 2001, all the streetcars will be low-floor.

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