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Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer:

No, passengers must not be asked to disclose their disability before using a fixed route vehicle’s lift or ramp to board the vehicle. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.165(g), a transit provider must permit individuals with disabilities who do not use wheelchairs, including standees, to use a vehicle’s lift or ramp to enter the vehicle. People using canes or walkers and other standees with disabilities who do not use wheelchairs but have difficulty using steps must also be permitted to use the lift on request. If a rider asks to use a lift or ramp, the transit personnel should deploy the lift or ramp without inquiring about the individual’s disability. Click here for the text of this regulation.

Answer:

Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.123(f), transit entities are required to permit one person to accompany the paratransit eligible individual. Additional persons accompanying the eligible individual are to be served on a space-available basis to prevent displacement of other ADA paratransit eligible individuals. The transit provider may not limit who the companion may be; the companion may be a family member, friend, or business associate, etc. The transit authority may require that the eligible individual reserve a space for the companion when reserving his or her own ride. A personal care attendant (PCA), someone designated or employed to assist the eligible individual, may always ride with the eligible individual. The transit entity may require that the eligible individual reserve a space for the PCA when reserving the trip. If there is a PCA on the trip, the eligible individual may still bring a companion, as well as additional companions on a space-available basis. To be considered as “accompanying” the eligible individual, a companion must have the same origin and destination points as the eligible individual.

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:

While Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulation 49 C.F.R. 38.23(d)(7) requires a seatbelt and shoulder harness to be provided as part of the wheelchair securement system, passengers with disabilities cannot be required to use the seatbelt and shoulder harness unless all passengers are provided with seatbelts and shoulder harnesses and are required to use them. Since few fixed route buses are equipped with seatbelts and shoulder harnesses for all passengers, their use cannot be required for passengers with disabilities. In the case of paratransit vehicles, seatbelts and shoulder harnesses may indeed be available for all passengers, and if all passengers are required to make use of them, passengers with disabilities occupying the securement location may also be required to do so. Note, however, that in some cases the use of seatbelts themselves may be more harmful to passengers with certain types of disabilities than riding without them. Most state seatbelt laws recognize this, and provide for exceptions; policies concerning seatbelt use aboard transit vehicles should provide for similar exceptions.

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:

No. Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations do not limit the number of service animals that may accompany a single individual. As long as an animal meets the definition of a service animal and is kept under the control of the rider, a transportation provider may not refuse to carry the animal. It is possible that an individual might have service animals that are trained to provide different tasks.

Answer:

Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.125(i), a transit provider may require an individual to indicate whether he or she travels with a personal care attendant (PCA) as part of the initial eligibility process. The transit entity is also permitted to make further inquiries regarding the individual’s actual need for a PCA. When making any such inquiries, it is important to note an individual’s need for a PCA may be unrelated to the trip itself, and that the passenger may not require the assistance of a PCA while onboard the vehicle. Because of the nature of typical PCA functions, it is most likely that the services provided by a PCA would be required throughout the day at the passenger’s destination. All that is required is that the passenger establish that he or she requires a PCA, and for the PCA and the passenger to be traveling together between the same points. If the rider does not indicate the use of a PCA, then any individual accompanying him or her will be regarded simply as a companion.

Answer:

Yes. A transit system may set a minimum age limit for children riding without a parent or guardian present; this is a local decision. The policy must apply equally to both paratransit and fixed route.

Answer:

No. A transit provider may not deny transportation to a rider whose wheelchair or mobility device does not have functioning brakes. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.3, a “wheelchair” is defined as “a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or more-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed or modified for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered.” The ADA regulations do not specify any particular equipment required for personal mobility devices, including brakes. Moreover, it will often be impossible for transit personnel to observe whether a passenger’s wheelchair is equipped with brakes. Most power wheelchairs are equipped with electromagnetic brakes that engage automatically, and are completely internal to the drive system with no visible parts.

Answer:

Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.5(e), a transit entity is prohibited from requiring that an individual with disabilities be accompanied by a personal care attendant (PCA). Transit entities are also not required to provide PCA services. This provision must be considered in light of the fact that under 49 C.F.R. 37.5(h), an entity may refuse service to someone who engages in violent, seriously disruptive, or illegal conduct. If an entity may legitimately refuse service to someone, it may condition service to him on actions that would mitigate the problem. The entity could require a PCA as a condition of providing service it otherwise had the right to refuse. However, a transit entity cannot refuse to provide service solely because an individual’s disability results in appearance or involuntary behavior that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience the entity or other persons.

Answer:

Yes. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 38.23(b)(11), the lift must permit both inboard and outboard facing of wheelchair and mobility aid users. Appendix D to Section 37.165 further specifies that a transportation entity should respect the passenger’s preference for entering a lift platform and vehicle in a particular direction (e.g., entering facing forward or backing on), except where the only way of successfully maneuvering a device onto a vehicle or into its securement area requires a particular orientation or an overriding safety concern (i.e., a direct threat) exists. Given that lifts have been required to accommodate passenger facing either direction since 1991, it is unlikely that successful boarding would require a particular orientation. In any event, the passenger would be in the best position to determine which direction is best suited for boarding under their specific circumstances. A “direct threat” represents a clear and present danger to the health or safety of others; by definition, a direct threat cannot exist on the basis of presumptions about persons with disabilities or their mobility devices. It is difficult to envision circumstances under which the direction that a passenger faces when boarding would constitute a direct threat.

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.

Answer:

Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(c)(3), a personal care attendant (PCA) may not be charged a fare for complementary paratransit service. Under 49 C.F.R. Section 37.123(f)(1)(ii), a companion (i.e., friend or family member) does not count as a PCA unless the companion is actually acting in the capacity of PCA. PCAs may be charged a fare on fixed route. While some transit systems go beyond the minimum requirements of the ADA and allow PCAs to ride for free, there is no requirement that they do so.

Answer:

Encountering cigarette smoke, service animals, and other potential allergens is a function of going out in public. Adoption of a no smoking policy at bus stops is a local issue and is not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); however, you may contact your local transit authority to discuss such a concern. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(d), public transit providers are required to allow trained service animals to accompany riders on vehicles.

Answer:

For the purposes of the EEO Program, "requests or receives" means the FTA formula or competitive grants that an entity was awarded in the previous fiscal year for capital, operations, or planning expenditures. For this monetary threshold, FTA is not interested in the expenditures or grant drawdowns by an agency.

Answer:

Accessibility requirements for fare vending machines are established by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB or “Access Board”), the Federal agency responsible for developing minimum guidelines for accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These guidelines were updated by the Access Board in 2004, and incorporated into Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations as the enforceable standard for transportation in November 2006; specific requirements may therefore differ slightly, depending upon when the fare machine was made and installed. The current standards are found in Section 707 of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines, which can be found at https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-site.... In particular, Section 707 discusses fare machine requirements such as clear floor space, operable parts, privacy, and speech-enablement.

Answer:

A transit-related employee is "an employee of an FTA applicant, recipient, subrecipient, or contractor who is involved in any aspect of an agency’s public transit operation funded by FTA." (Circular Section 1.6). Agencies are required to count all part-time employees and employees with collateral duties who support the transit program, including those who contribute time to other programs. (Circular Section 1.4). Therefore, a transit-related employee is anyone "who is involved in any aspect of an agency’s public transit operation" and not just those who plan routes and drive buses. Those who provide transit oversight, civil rights oversight, accounting, and grants management, for example, would all be considered transit-related employees if their work touched the transit program.

The following are some examples of transit-related employees:

  • A city planner involved in planning bus routes would be counted as part of the recipient’s transit-related workforce, but a city planner involved only in land use would not be counted.
  • A budget analyst who processes payments for the transit program in addition to other responsibilities.
  • An employee focusing on grants management who handles grant applications for several city programs, including transit programs.
  • An HR officer managing staffing at a transit agency or managing transit staff as part of a city or county program.
  • An employee providing civil rights oversight at a transit agency or State DOT.
  • A security guard or facilities staffer at a transit-specific building or subway station would be a transit-related employee, while a security guard or facilities staffer at a State DOT building would not.
Answer:

Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.3, “service animal” is defined as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.” DOT ADA regulation 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(d) requires transit entities to permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities. Appendix D to Section 37.167 contains further important information on service animals. It is important to note that while the U.S. Department of Justice has amended the definition of “service animal” for purposes of its ADA regulations under Titles II and III of the ADA, for state and local governments and places that are open to the public, the definition under DOT ADA regulations for transportation has not changed. Therefore, members of the public may find that some service animals may no longer be considered service animals once they leave a transportation system.

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