The first steps toward accessible transport in Latin America are impressive. Such steps include multiple accessible subway stations in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Mexico City (four of the world's ten largest metropolitan areas); as well as instructive efforts ranging from the deployment of more than 1,000 low-floor buses in Buenos Aires to 50 lift-equipped buses in Mexico City to a fleet of 100 city-operated door-to-door vehicles in São Paulo to national legislation in Costa Rica. Accessible pedestrian infrastructure is also beginning to appear in nearly all Latin American countries, ranging from 10,000 curb ramps in Mexico City to accessible pedestrian ways in fourteen districts of Rio de Janeiro to plans for constructing or retrofitting some 150 rail and bus stations with accessibility features in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.
On the other hand, most of Latin America's population with disabilities remains unable to access public transport systems due to lack of accessible design or, equally important, a lack of passenger-friendly operating procedures which can make travel equally problematic for many older persons, women, and children. Nor has advocacy, let alone legislation and demonstration projects, focused to date on the accessible design and operation of the small buses and vans which form an important part of the transportation system in urban and rural areas of several Latin America countries. (See the author's case study, Access Issues for Small Buses and Combis in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area.)
This report can only mention in passing the critical equity, system design, and regulatory issues which impact in different ways the operation of the mainly concessioned standard-size buses and often less regulated small vehicles in Latin American transport fleets.