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Civil Rights / ADA FAQs

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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:

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:

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.

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.

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:

No, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.5(d), an entity may not impose special charges, not authorized by this part, on individuals with disabilities for providing services required by this part or otherwise necessary to accommodate them. Section 37.125 requires each operator of complementary paratransit to establish an eligibility process. The details of the process are developed at the local level by transit operators and the communities they serve. As Appendix D to Section 37.125 explains, however, the process developed may not impose unreasonable administrative burdens on applicants, and may not involve “user fees” or application fees to the applicant. This section prohibits applicants from having to pay for transportation to and from an assessment, as the assessment is part of the eligibility process.

Answer:

Yes. Under 49 CFR Section 37.125 of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, a transit provider “may establish an administrative process to suspend, for a reasonable period of time, the provision of complementary paratransit service to ADA eligible individuals who establish a pattern or practice of missing scheduled trips.” A pattern or practice involves intentional, repeated or regular actions, not isolated, accidental, or singular incidents. Transit agencies cannot base a suspension of service on any trips missed by a rider for reasons beyond his or her control, including trips missed due to illness, family emergency, or transit agency error or lateness. Before suspending service, a transit provider must notify the individual in writing, provide an opportunity for an appeal, and issue written notification of the decision and reasons for it. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has permitted transit systems to also count “late cancellations” as no-shows, where they have the same operational impact as a no-show. A transit provider should be able to absorb the capacity of a trip cancelled one or two hours before the scheduled pickup. An hour or two is typically sufficient notice for a transit provider to redirect a vehicle without any negative operational consequences. Because these trips are being regarded as no-shows, the circumstances surrounding late cancellations would be the same as for a no-show; i.e., trips that are cancelled late due to circumstances beyond the passenger’s control would not be grounds for sanctions.

Answer:

Yes, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(b)(2), a complementary paratransit entity may negotiate pickup times with an ADA paratransit eligible individual, up to one hour before or after the individual’s desired departure time. Any deviation from this one-hour window would exceed the bounds of comparability. This means that in the event an individual accepts and takes a trip negotiated to begin more than one hour before or after his or her desired departure time, the transit operator must still record a denial based on its inability to provide the trip within the timeframe specified under DOT ADA regulations.

Answer:

Yes. Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.121 require paratransit fares to be comparable to the fare for a trip between the same points on the regular fixed route transit system. “Comparable” is defined in DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(c) as not more than twice the fare that would be charged to an individual paying full fare for a trip of similar length, at a similar time of day, on the entity’s fixed route system, exclusive of discounts.

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 response time. While transit systems are permitted to use real-time scheduling, it is not required. Where same-day service is provided, it is often a premium service. Because paratransit is a shared ride, allowing riders to change their drop-off locations on the same day to make intermediate stops could lead to late pickups or drop-offs for other riders.

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