Calgary Airport Authority
Calgary International Airport YYC LINK Passenger Shuttle:
A Unique Way of Moving Through the Airport
The Rationale for the YYC LINK Passenger Shuttle™
Getting around in the physical world is something many of us may take for granted. Curbs, thresholds, stairs, sidewalk gratings, obstructions, narrow passages – these are barriers we walk over, around, or through many times a day. We may seldom think about signs, loudspeaker announcements, traffic signals, and other sources that direct us or give us necessary information.
For those of us who have some physical difficulties, however – a curb or a few stairs can be large barriers. Airport loudspeaker announcements are often difficult to understand for people with perfect hearing; for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, they may not hear them at all. Signs, no matter how well-placed they are and how much information they carry, do no good for someone who is vision impaired unless they are in predictable places and can be read by touch. Accessible client and customer service is not just about ramps, lifts, elevators or automated doors. It’s about understanding that the elderly and people with disabilities may have different needs. This nomination outlines how the Calgary International Airport provides access and inclusion to the elderly and people with disabilities, being guided by the principles of independence, dignity, integration, and equality of opportunity.
In Calgary, the opening of the new International Terminal dramatically changed how passengers move through YYC; to accommodate these new patterns of circulation the Authority and GEC Architecture partnered with one goal in mind: “To create a universally accessible transportation system within the terminal that did not differentiate between levels of mobility.” This is how the YYC LINK Passenger ShuttleTM was born, and this is the project that is being nominated today.
The YYC LINK Passenger ShuttleTM is a one-of-a-kind, universally accessible compact transit system which offers a seamless experience when traveling through the Calgary airport. The system consists of custom designed electric vehicles operating in a dedicated route that links all domestic and international concourses. It is available as a post-security courtesy service for all guests who need to transport within the terminal. To supplement the project team’s experience in developing this system, they reached out to the community and invited the YYC Accessibilities Committee to join the team. Through an iterative and collaborative design process, we developed not only the multi-modal route, but also the shuttle vehicle. The feedback from the group drove the design of wayfinding, pedestrian and vehicle crossings, sloped walks, tactile surfaces, furniture positioning, and shuttle design. At its core, the system was designed as a first-choice for transit between concourses that could inclusively accommodate all levels of mobility. Every single aspect of the YYC LINK Passenger ShuttleTM was designed and developed in support of this idea, resulting in a design that evokes an image and experience of high quality, welcoming transit.
Through team work and a positive drive towards a common goal, we created the world’s only airport travel system. YYC LINK Passenger ShuttleTM has been operating for just over a year and has become an iconic service with an impressive response from YYC’s guests. To date, more than 1,000,000 guests have used this service, and have provided great feedback. The YYC LINK Passenger ShuttleTM is an experience not to be missed when visiting YYC Calgary International Airport.
Universally Accessible Design Elements
The design is useful to people with diverse abilities. The YYC LINK Passenger ShuttleTM provides the same means of use for all, and is equally available to all users regardless of abilities, thus avoiding segregating or stigmatizing any users.
Flexibility in Use
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. Through the collaborative design process, we aimed to address comfort of persons with limited mobility, persons without limited mobility, persons with reduced hearing and/or sight, as well as families traveling with toddlers in strollers or oversize carry-on luggage. Additionally, the operations system was developed to be responsive to changing requirements of guests, enabling the team to immediately add or remove vehicles from service as needed.
Simple and Intuitive Use
The YYC LINK is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language or auditory abilities, or current concentration level. The design draws on queues from our existing transit environment, eliminating unnecessary complexity, and is consistent with user expectations. Information and wayfinding is clear and consistent, with emphasis on more important items. The colour, contrast, font and font size, and location of wayfinding and signage were specifically chosen to be easily visible for all travelers, visitors, employees and volunteers at YYC.
The design of the system and wayfinding effectively conveys necessary information to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities. It provides different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information, and is compatible with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations/abilities. To accommodate those with vision loss, the high contrast colours in the flooring are used at the top and bottom of all slopes, and at all intersections of the vehicle and pedestrian routes, to clearly delineate the spaces. In addition, contrasting colour, tactile queues are used at the platform edges that are consistent with universal transit design practice around the world.
Tolerance for Error
The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. Pedestrian crossings have been designed with visual, acoustic, and tactile queues for safety and ease of navigation. Passenger platforms are open to the YYC LINK route only where vehicles are allowed to stop. This edge is identified in accordance with industry practice throughout the City of Calgary which provides a recognizable system for users with visual impairments. Platform furniture was selected, placed, eliminated, isolated, or shielded to mitigate conflicts for those with vision and mobility impairments, and to allow for full barrier-free movements on all passenger platforms.
Low Physical Effort
The system can be used efficiently and comfortably and with minimum effort. All vehicle loading and unloading is level. Passenger platforms are raised above the YYC LINK by 8” to match the height of the vehicle bed for seamless, effortless entering and exiting. Sloped walks are used in lieu of ramps and stairs throughout, are shallower than 1:20 (5%), and are furnished with graspable handrails throughout.
Size and Space for Approach and Use
Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility. The design provides a clear line of sight to important elements, and all components are comfortably within reach for any seated or standing guest. We have also accommodated variations in hand and grip size, and adequate space for the use of assistive devices. The vehicle has been designed to accommodate a single wheelchair and an attendant comfortably in the main seating area. Through testing, it was determined that wheelchair anchors were not required, but have been installed beneath the floor should they be required in the future. The universally accessible crossings create a safe and easy to navigate route for all users. Elements include high contrast colours, tactile indicators, at grade crossing, barrier-free entries, audio indicators, and low-rise slopes to and from the crossings.