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A county wants to use ride-sourcing as part of its Guaranteed Ride Home Program, but the ride-sourcing companies lack accessible vehicles. The county considers a more expensive taxi company with accessible vans. Can the county charge passengers more?Answer: No. Riders requiring accessible vehicles cannot be charged a higher fare. The cost of providing accessible vehicles must be borne by the county’s Guaranteed Ride Home Program.
An automaker wants to implement a fixed-route transportation system in a local community using vans that will have no established stops, but will be hailed through a smartphone app. Do any of the vans have to be accessible?Answer: It depends upon the size of the vans. For vehicles with a capacity of more than 16, including the driver, the vehicles must be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair users (49 CFR 37.101(b)) For vehicles with a capacity of 16 or fewer, including the driver, the vehicles must be accessible unless the fixed route system, when viewed in its entirety, provides equivalent service to persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users (49 CFR 37.101(c)) The interaction between the passenger and the service via the app does not make an otherwise fixed route service demand responsive.
Answer: Yes. If these services offer shared rides and are open to the general public, these services would be considered public transportation and generally would be eligible. Services that do not meet the definition of public transportation may be eligible as ADA paratransit, as a job access and reverse commute project, or as an alternative to public transportation. A transit agency may contract for eligible micro-transit services; however, the law generally does not permit private firms to be eligible to receive FTA funds as a direct recipient or subrecipient. As with car sharing, a recipient may provide for the integration of transit services with micro-transit through the design and construction of an eligible capital project. For example, information about these services can be integrated into electronic signage that stream data to applications as part of an infrastructure project in order to provide the consumer with more transportation options.
Are private companies like ridesourcing companies exempt from DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements?Answer: No. There is no categorical exemption of private companies from the controlled substance and alcohol testing requirement. Recipients of Urbanized Area (§ 5307), Capital Investment Grant (§ 5309) and Rural Area (§ 5311) funds must conduct drug and alcohol testing of all employees or contractors performing safety sensitive functions. Ride-sourcing companies are subject to the testing requirement to the extent they are a contractor of a recipient and perform a safety sensitive function. However, ride-sourcing companies may qualify for the taxicab exception.
Answer: No. Private shuttle services, which include corporate, regional and local shuttles that make limited stops to pick up specified riders, are not considered public transportation and are not eligible for FTA funding.
Answer: It depends on the source and use of funding. Ride-sourcing services that provide exclusive-ride service for a single passenger or group are not considered public transportation and are not eligible as a public transportation expense. However, exclusive-ride services may be eligible as an alternative to public transportation in the 5310 program or as a job access and reverse commute project. For example, a transit agency may use FTA funds to provide vouchers for individuals to use an exclusive-ride service.
Aren’t Private Companies Like Ride-Sourcing Entities Exempt From U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) ADA Requirements?Answer: No. The DOT ADA regulations cover transportation provided by both public and private entities, whether or not they are primarily engaged in the provision of transportation service. For example, if a hotel wants to provide shuttle service to its guests along a fixed route serving local attractions, because hotels are not primarily engaged in transportation, the vehicles used may not need to be accessible as long as equivalent service is provided for persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users.
Answer: Yes. It’s important to remember, though, that all ADA paratransit service criteria apply: Origin-to-destination service Service area (at least ¾-mile on either side of a fixed route) Response time (next-day, with advance reservation and real-time scheduling permitted) Fares (not more than twice the regular fixed-route fare for a comparable trip) No restrictions on trip purpose Hours and days of service (at least the same as fixed route) No capacity constraints
Answer: It depends. FTA grant recipients are responsible for ensuring FTA funds are used for eligible expenses. The eligibility of shared mobility services will depend largely on the specific contracts entered into between FTA recipients and third parties, such as shared mobility operators. When structuring such contracts, grantees should consider whether the terms of service will meet the legal definition of public transportation, for example, or whether such service may be permitted as an alternative to public transportation within several of FTA’s grant programs. FTA funds may be used to reimburse recipients for expenses associated with public transportation capital projects, and in some cases, for the costs of operating transit service. The statutory definition (49 U.S.C. § 5302) of public transportation is “regular, continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public or a segment of the general public defined by age, disability or low-income.” Examples of eligible public transportation capital projects include constructing waiting or pick-up/drop off areas at a transit facility, or providing information technology (IT) systems that support the use of shared mobility services. When federal public transportation law allows funding for transit operating expenses, such as in small urban and rural areas, or for job access and reverse commute activities and ADA paratransit services, FTA may reimburse a transit agency for the costs of contracting with a shared mobility operator to provide shared ride service to the general public. This may be an option for off-peak services or first-mile/last-mile transportation. Where contract services are used, the transit agency must ensure that civil rights obligations continue to be met, as noted in the Americans with Disabilities Act FAQs. In addition, FTA funds may also be used to support operating or capital costs for alternatives to public transportation, particularly under the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (Section 5310) program or as a job access and reverse commute project under FTA’s rural and urban formula programs. Such costs may include the costs of contracting with a taxi company or shared mobility operator to provide exclusive ride service or for voucher programs.
Answer: No. The FTA has determined that if a public transit agency is subsidizing first mile/last mile service, offering same day ADA paratransit service, or other service as a pilot program (for up to one year) and there are no FTA funds in either the vehicles or the operations of the service, then the drug and alcohol rules do not apply, even if the public transit agency is contracting with only one ridesourcing or one taxicab company. If the transit agency continues to subsidize the service beyond one year, the transit agency must either expand its list of providers such that the taxicab exception applies, or incorporate the drivers of the ridesourcing company into the drug and alcohol programs.
Answer: It depends. The rationale for the taxicab exception is the same for ride-sourcing companies when a public transit agency has a contractual or other arrangement with two or more ride-sourcing companies or taxicab companies to provide a specific service or type of service, and the public transit passenger chooses among the providers. In this case, the public transit agency would have to contract with at least two ride-sourcing companies and/or taxicab companies to ensure the passenger has a choice of which provider to contact for a ride. There may be some situations in which a public transit agency contracts with two or more ride-sourcing companies as well as one or more taxicab companies in order to ensure the service is available for all passengers. For example, the taxicab company may be the only contractor with accessible vehicles, or may be the only contractor able to schedule trips over the phone or accept cash payment from passengers. While some passengers may have only one choice, this does not change the fact that many passengers will have more than one choice, and so the taxicab exception will apply to all of the providers.
Does the testing requirement apply to employees and independent drivers of contractors not otherwise providing public transportation?Answer: Yes. The drug and alcohol regulation (49 CFR part 655) extends the controlled substance and alcohol testing requirement to employees of contractors performing a safety sensitive function. This includes the independent drivers of a ridesourcing company contracting with a public transportation agency. FTA has consistently interpreted the regulation (49 CFR part 655) to include contractors who do not directly engage in public transportation operations, including taxicab operators, if the taxicab exception does not apply. The exception states: In accordance with the current rule (49 CFR Part 655), "the drug and alcohol testing rules apply when the transit provider enters into a contract with one or more entitites to provide taxi service. The rules do not apply when then patron (using subsidized vouchers) selects the taxi company that provides the transit service….[This policy] recognizes the practical difficulty of administering a drug and alcohol testing program to entitites that only incidentally provide taxi service on behalf of a transportation service. 66 FR 41996, August 9, 2001."
Answer: Mobility management is eligible as a capital expense and can be used to coordinate new mobility services with traditional public transportation and other alternative services. The purpose of mobility management is to improve coordination among existing public transportation providers and other transportation service providers in order to expand the availability of transportation options. The FTA supports the National Center for Mobility Management, which provides technical assistance.
If a Ride-Sourcing Entity Plans to Acquire a Fleet of Vans to Provide Fixed-Route Service Under Contract to a Local Transit System, Do Those Vehicles Have to be Accessible?Answer: For fixed route service, vehicles must be accessible. A private entity that purchases or leases new, used, or remanufactured vehicles for use, or in contemplation of use, in fixed route or demand responsive service under contract or other arrangement or relationship with a public entity must acquire accessible vehicles in all situations in which the public entity itself would be required to do so (49 CFR 37.23(b)). If a transit agency contracts with a ridesourcing entity to provide demand-responsive service, and the ridesourcing entity acquires a fleet of vans to provide that service, the vans must be accessible to wheelchair users unless the system, when viewed in its entirety, meets the standard for equivalent service
If a Shared Mobility Project Doesn’t Use Federal Funding, Does It Still Have to Comply With Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements?Answer: Yes. The ADA applies regardless of whether there is federal funding involved. The applicable requirements may depend upon the nature of the project and the service that will result, such as fixed route, general public demand responsive, or ADA paratransit. A transit operator entering an arrangement with a ridesourcing entity to provide fixed-route service using only local funds would be required to ensure that any vehicle used on the system is accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users, and ensure that paratransit is provided as a complement to such routes.
If a Shared Mobility Project Only Involves Non-ADA Transportation; Does It Still Have to Comply With the Service Criteria?Answer: If the term "non-ADA transportation" is being used to refer to transportation services that are not ADA complementary paratransit, such services would be covered by the requirements for fixed-route or demand-responsive service for the general public, not by the ADA complementary paratransit service criteria. It should be noted that the term "non-ADA transportation" is a misnomer; all modes of transportation, other than by aircraft, are covered by DOT ADA regulations.
If a transit operator contracts out its shared mobility service to a ride-sourcing entity; would that make it subject to the requirements for public or private transportation?Answer: The requirements for public entities would apply. The public entity remains responsible for ensuring that the service provided is in compliance with DOT ADA regulations. This can be accomplished by ensuring that the private entity has sufficient accessible vehicles in its own fleet to provide equivalent service; by contracting with a separate entity to provide equivalent service, or by employing accessible vehicles from its own fleet.
If a transit system offers real-time service to paratransit passengers using ride-sourcing, can it provide real-time service to eligible passengers? Wheelchair users would still have access to next-day paratransit service.Answer: If real-time service is provided to eligible ADA paratransit passengers, it must be provided to all eligible ADA paratransit riders, including wheelchair users. This can be accomplished by ensuring that the ridesourcing entity has sufficient accessible vehicles available to provide equivalent service; by contracting with a separate entity to provide accessible vehicles; or most easily by simply incorporating your own accessible paratransit vehicles into the service to be provided by the ridesourcing entity.
If a Transit System Partners With a Ride-Sourcing Entity to Provide First-Mile/Last-Mile Service, What ADA Regulations Apply?Answer: Such service would most likely be regarded as demand-responsive service to the general public. The service, though not necessarily the ridesourcing vehicles themselves, would have to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs. For the service to be considered accessible, some vehicles, whether provided by the ridesourcing entity, the transit agency, or another contractor, must be accessible to passengers who use wheelchairs, such that the service to passengers with disabilities is equivalent to that provided to passengers without disabilities. A transit system partnering with a ridesourcing entity to provide service to and from a commuter rail station, for example, could dispatch accessible vehicles from its own paratransit fleet via the ridesourcing entity’s smartphone app to accommodate wheelchair users.
If my project is funded with public transportation innovation (§ 5312) research funds, does the drug and alcohol testing requirement apply?Answer: No. If the project is funded with research dollars, the law permits the Secretary to prescribe terms and conditions for the grant award. FTA has determined the drug and alcohol rules do not apply to these funds, even if the recipient of Public Transportation Innovation (§ 5312) research funds is also a recipient of Urbanized Area (§ 5307), Capital Investment Grant (§ 5309) or Rural Area (§ 5311) funds.