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Answer: Yes. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.165(f), transit entity personnel must assist individuals with disabilities with the use of ramps, lifts, and securement systems. If it is necessary for the personnel to leave their seats to provide this assistance, they must do so, even if the entity’s drivers traditionally do not leave their seats (e.g., because of labor-management agreements or company rules). On a vehicle which uses a ramp for entry, the driver may have to assist in pushing a manual wheelchair up the ramp, particularly if the ramp slope is relatively steep. In sum, transit entity personnel must ensure that a passenger with a disability is able to take advantage of the accessibility and safety features on vehicles.
Answer: No. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require public transportation entities to install bench seating at bus stops or at transportation facilities. However, transit systems may find it beneficial to provide seating, as it may enable use of the fixed-route system by persons whose disabilities prevent them from standing for extended periods of time, and who might otherwise be dependent upon paratransit service.
Answer: Yes, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(b), the minimum requirement for fixed route stop announcements by a transit provider is that stops be announced (by personnel or a recording system) at least at transfer points with other fixed routes, other major intersections and destination points, and intervals along a route sufficient to permit individuals with visual impairments or other disabilities to be oriented to their location. Further, the transit personnel must announce any stop upon request of an individual with a disability. For the text of 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(b) and its corresponding section in Appendix D, please visit this link.
Are paratransit providers required to solicit participation by the public and persons with disabilities in the initial development and continued provision of paratransit services?Answer: Yes, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.137, an entity developing a paratransit plan must ensure public participation through outreach, consultation with individuals with disabilities, opportunity for public comment on the plan, and at least one public hearing. Additionally, Section 37.137(c) requires an “ongoing mechanism for the participation of individuals with disabilities in the continued development and assessment of services to persons with disabilities.” Many transit providers choose to establish an advisory committee as part of their process to fulfill the requirements under Section 37.137. To learn more about the specific requirements under this regulation, you may want to consult the full text of the regulation.
Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.129(a), complementary paratransit service for ADA paratransit eligible individuals must be “origin-to-destination” service. The goal behind use of this particular language, rather than characterizing the service as “curb-to-curb” or “door-to-door,” is to emphasize the obligation of transit providers to ensure that eligible passengers are able to travel from their point of origin to their point of destination. The particular factors involved will determine whether curb-to-curb or door-to-door service will be better for that individual or the location. During the local paratransit planning process, a transit provider may establish either door-to-door or curb-to-curb service as the basic mode of paratransit service. However, a paratransit policy must not be inflexible to the extent that service will not be provided beyond the curb under any circumstance. Paratransit providers must provide enhanced service on a case-by-case basis where necessary to meet the origin-to-destination requirement; some individuals or locations may require service that goes beyond curb-to-curb service. It should be recognized that transit providers are not required to accommodate individual passengers’ needs which would fundamentally alter the nature of the service or create an undue burden. Transit providers’ obligations do not extend to the provision of personal services, such as requiring a driver to go beyond a doorway into a building to assist a passenger or requiring a driver to lose visual contact with their vehicle. For further information, please see the following DOT guidance document.
Answer: Yes. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations apply to both public and private operators of transportation service to the general public. If the private entity is providing service under a contract or other arrangement with a public entity, the private entity “stands in the shoes” of the public entity under 49 C.F.R. Section 37.23 and is subject to the requirements applicable to the public entity. While a public entity may hire contractors, it may not “contract away” its ADA responsibilities. For further detail regarding the “stand in the shoes” requirement, please consult the regulation, which is available here.
Are public transit agencies operating a fixed route system required to provide complementary paratransit services?Answer: Yes, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.121(a), “each public entity operating a fixed route system shall provide paratransit or other special service to individuals with disabilities that is comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without disabilities who use the fixed route system.” The regulation does not specify how this paratransit service is to be provided—whether by vehicles from its own fleet, by vehicles from a subrecipient, or by vehicles from a for-profit third-party contractor. The regulation only requires complementary paratransit services to be provided, leaving the details to the local planning process. The fixed route operator, however, is ultimately responsible for ensuring a contractor meets all applicable ADA requirements as explained in Section 37.23. You may view the cited regulation here.
Answer: No. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(d), transit entities are only required to allow service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities. DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.3 define a service animal as an animal “individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.” If an animal’s only function is to provide emotional support or comfort for the rider, that animal would not fall under the regulatory training-based definition of a service animal. Simply providing comfort is something that animal does passively, by its nature or through the perception of the owner. However, the ADA does not prohibit a transit agency from choosing to accommodate pets and comfort animals, which would be a local decision.
Are transit providers required to make information regarding transportation services accessible for persons who are blind or have vision impairments?Answer: Yes, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(f), a transportation entity must make communications and information available, using accessible formats and technology (e.g., Braille, large print, TDDs) to obtain information about transportation services. Someone cannot adequately use the bus system if schedule and route information is not available in a form he or she can use. A lack of adequate information in accessible formats for fixed route service may lead to an over-reliance on paratransit service, and a lack of adequate accessible information on paratransit services could constitute a prohibited capacity constraint.
Are transit providers required to offer reduced transit fares to seniors, people with disabilities, or medicare cardholders?Answer: Under 49 U.S.C. Section 5307(d)(1)(D) of the Federal Transit Act, federally subsidized transit providers may not charge more than half of the peak fare for fixed route transit during off-peak hours for seniors, people with disabilities, and Medicare cardholders. This is not an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement. Rather, this is a general condition placed upon those receiving federal funding for transit from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The discount does not apply for purposes of determining the fare for ADA complementary paratransit, which, under 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(c), would be calculated without regard to discounts such as this. To learn more about this program, please visit the following link. Further questions may be answered by submitting a question online at http://ftawebprod.fta.dot.gov/ContactUsTool/Public/NewRequest.aspx.
Answer: Yes. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(b), paratransit reservation service must be available during at least all normal business hours of the entity’s administrative offices, as well as during times, comparable to normal business hours, on a day when the entity's offices are not open before a service day (e.g., on a Sunday).
At what point is a paratransit ride no longer comparable to fixed route based on the time spent traveling?Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.121(a), “each public entity operating a fixed route system shall provide paratransit or other special service to individuals with disabilities that is comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without disabilities who use the fixed route system.” Paratransit service is by nature a shared-ride service. The standard of service is not intended to reflect that of a taxi service, which typically transports passengers directly to their destination. A paratransit trip should be comparable in length to an identical trip on the fixed route system, including the time necessary to travel to the bus stop, wait for the bus, actual riding time, transfers, and travel from the final stop to the person’s ultimate destination.
Does FTA provide funding to help people purchase adaptive vans for personal use that are capable of carrying wheelchairs?Answer: No. FTA grant programs provide Federal financial assistance to public transit operators. Funding for private individuals may be available through State vocational rehabilitation programs, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or other individual funding sources. Many automobile manufacturers also offer rebates or reimbursements on adaptive modifications to new vehicles.
Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limit subscription trips to 50% of available paratransit trips?Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(b), paratransit service must be provided to eligible individuals on a next-day basis (i.e., at any time tomorrow in response to a request made today). Section 37.133 permits the use of subscription service (i.e., trips provided to eligible ADA paratransit riders who make trips on a repeated or recurring basis, such as to school, work, religious services, dialysis treatment, etc.), as long as it does not absorb more than 50% of the available trips at a given time of day. Section 37.133(b) permits a transit operator to provide subscription service above the 50% ceiling if it finds it has excess capacity available (i.e., all requests for next-day service are met, and capacity to provide additional trips remains). If, after constant monitoring, it finds next-day requestors are being denied trips, the operator must either increase its passenger carrying capacity or reduce the number of subscription trips. Note that subscription service is discretionary and is not mandated by Section 37.133. Whether to provide subscription service beyond the 50% ceiling, or whether to provide subscription service at all, is entirely within the transit agency's discretion.
Does the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) enforce Americans with Disabilities (ADA) regulations involving private tour buses?Answer: Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations cover both public and private entities; however, the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) oversight authority extends only to public entities. For ADA issues involving private transportation, such as charter, tour, and motor-coach companies, please contact the U.S. Department of Justice. Information on how to file a complaint may be found on the U.S. Department of Justice ADA homepage at http://www.ada.gov. You may also reach them on their toll-free, ADA Information Line: 1-800-514-0301 (TDD 1-800-514-0383).
For complementary paratransit service, does the requirement that paratransit service be provided within three-fourths of a mile of a fixed route bus service determine eligible destinations based on driving distance or “as the crow flies”?Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(a)(1)(i), transit entities must “provide complementary paratransit service to origins and destinations within corridors with a width of three-fourths of a mile on each side of each fixed route.” The measurement to destinations within the three-fourths of a mile corridor on each side of a fixed route is measured “as the crow flies” and does not vary based upon driving distance.
Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(e), complementary paratransit service must be available during the same days and hours that fixed route service operates. Thus, if an individual can travel from a given origin to a given destination on a particular fixed route at a certain time of day, a paratransit eligible person must also be able to travel from the same origin to that same destination on paratransit at that time of day. Because paratransit service is required to be available during the same hours and days as the fixed route system, and because not all fixed routes will necessarily be operating at a given time on a given day, the shape of the paratransit service area can be expected to change accordingly. For example, it is common for certain routes to not run late at night. Those routes, and their associated paratransit corridors, do not need to be served with paratransit when the fixed route system is not running on them.
Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.125(g), transit operators must “establish an administrative appeal process through which individuals who are denied eligibility can obtain review of the denial.” The transit operator may require that any appeal be filed within 60 days of the denial of an application. The appeal process must include an opportunity for the applicant to be heard and to present information and arguments. Decisions regarding the appeal cannot be made by anyone who was involved in the initial decision to deny eligibility. The transit operator must provide the individual with written notification of its decision and the reasons for it. The transit operator is not required to provide paratransit service while the appeal is under consideration; however, if a decision has not been made within 30 days of the completion of the appeal process, the operator must provide paratransit service from that time until and unless a decision to deny the appeal is issued.
How do I submit a complaint regarding a public transit agency’s failure to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations?Answer: Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require transit agencies to have a complaint process. If you believe an ADA violation has occurred, we encourage riders to first file a complaint or otherwise communicate with their local transit agency to give them an opportunity to resolve the situation. If you find the transit agency to be unresponsive, after waiting a reasonable amount of time for a resolution, you may decide to file a complaint with the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Office of Civil Rights. The Office of Civil Rights is responsible for ensuring that providers of public transportation comply with ADA requirements. A complaint form, with mailing instructions, can be found here. A complaint should contain enough details for an investigator to understand why a complainant believes a transit agency violated the ADA and include specifics such as dates, times, and route numbers of incidents, along with any related correspondence from the transit agency. The Office’s enforcement priority is on repeated issues—not one-time operational breakdowns—so it may be important depending on the nature of the complaint allegations to keep a log of incidents, again with dates and times, to submit with the complaint. If you have questions about the types of complaints the Office of Civil Rights can process or on how to prepare a complaint, the Office can be reached directly at FTA.ADAAssistance@dot.gov or 1-888-446-4511.
Answer: Disability alone does not determine paratransit eligibility; the decision is based on the applicant’s functional ability to use the fixed route bus and is not a medical decision. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in Appendix D to 49 C.F.R. Section 37.125 explain: “The substantive eligibility process is not aimed at making a medical or diagnostic determination. While evaluation by a physician (or professionals in rehabilitation or other relevant fields) may be used as part of the process, a diagnosis of a disability is not dispositive. What is needed is a determination of whether, as a practical matter, the individual can use fixed route transit in his or her own circumstances.” Transit agencies, with input from the communities they serve, devise the specifics of their individual eligibility processes. The DOT ADA regulations in Section 37.125 set only broad requirements that all agencies must incorporate, such as written notification of eligibility decisions and an opportunity for an appeal. This regulation may be accessed here.