Numerous signs at the Mall of America transit station in Bloomington help riders find their way to the correct platform to board their bus or train.
The signs are of no use to Annie Young. She relies on newly taped lines on platforms to get to her stop — an idea she gave to Metro Transit.
Young has rod-cone dystrophy, a rare eye condition that she developed more than 20 years ago and which left the Air Force veteran, mother, wife, painter and former softball player blind.
"I was angry," said Young, 60, of Burnsville. "That was tough for me."
Equally as tough was learning how to get around all over again. That meant surrendering her driver's license, which she called the worst day of her life, and turning to transit to maintain independence.
"I was not going to wither away in my house," she recalled telling herself. "I was determined."
At the outset, Young recalled standing at bus stops, only to be left behind because drivers didn't announce their route or pull all the way up to the bus stop. At the Mall of America, Young would sometimes walk in the driving lane and use her cane to tap and count the concrete columns adjacent to platforms to keep oriented and get to where her bus picked up.
She thought that there had to be a better way.
Young previously had worked with the the Minnesota Department of Transportation to get pedestrian crossing signs with push buttons at crosswalks to activate flashers to help her cross Hwy. 13 at Cliff Road and get to the Burnsville Transit Station.
That provided her with motivation to hit up Metro Transit. She showed representatives the challenges she faces at the Mall of America's transit station and offered suggestions on how to make it easier for riders like her with low or no vision to use.
Young's input led to a host of changes at the busy bus hub, which included relocating metal benches farther from the curb to maintain wide sidewalks free of obstacles. It also led to the agency grounding pavement to provide well-defined edges along crosswalks that run at angles across the driving lanes.
Most recently, the agency installed white 3M pavement marking tape on the platforms. The 6-inch textured strips designate a walking path. Larger squares, called "Decision Boxes," put down last month indicate when a rider has reached a point where they can make a choice to enter a crosswalk, stand in the designated loading area or continue along the platform to the next stop.
"This is valuable," Young said. "I hope it helps everybody."
Young said she hopes Metro Transit will make similar improvements at other rail platforms and bus stops, including the VA Hospital in Minneapolis where she travels by transit.
"Facilities would benefit from either the tape wayfinding or the water-blasted wayfinding stripes," said Doug Cook, a Metro Transit Community outreach coordinator who works closely with the accessibility community. "Metro Transit may consider incorporating these enhancements in new construction as well."