View frequently asked questions on this topic below. Perform a word search to narrow your content or, if this topic has sub-categories, select based on your interest from the drop-down list. Answers to frequently asked questions are provided as guidance.
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.
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.
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.
Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 38.23(b)(1), wheelchair lifts must accommodate a design load of at least 600 lbs., with a safety factor of at least six (3,600 lbs.) for working parts, such as belts, pulleys, and shafts that can be expected to wear, and a safety factor of at least three (1,800 lbs.) for nonworking parts, based on the ultimate strength of the material. For vehicles equipped with ramps, the design load must be at least 600 lbs. for ramps in excess of 30 inches in length, with a safety factor of at least three (1,800 lbs.); ramps less than 30 inches in length are required to have a design load of at least 300 lbs. Transit agencies are not prevented from acquiring vehicles and equipment with a higher design load but are not required to accommodate mobility devices that exceed the capacities of their lifts or ramps.
Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.163(f), if a lift fails in service and the headway to the next accessible vehicle on the route is more than 30 minutes, the transit provider is required to provide alternative accessible service by a paratransit or other special vehicle within a short response time (i.e., less than 30 minutes). Transit entities may provide this accommodation by having a “shadow” accessible service available along the route (i.e., by having an accessible vehicle “follow” the vehicle with the inoperative lift) or by having the bus driver immediately call in upon encountering a passenger he or she is unable to transport.
Contractors determine the monetary threshold by counting the amount of federal funding received or requested through applicable contracts (including, but not limited to, for capital projects, operations, and planning, but excluding construction contracts) from the direct recipient in the previous fiscal year.
Subrecipients determine the monetary threshold by counting the amount of federal funding received or requested from the direct recipient in the previous fiscal year.
No, if a bus is filled to capacity, a driver is not required to remove other passengers from the bus in order to make room for additional persons with disabilities. However, the driver would still be required to request that persons without disabilities vacate priority seating locations they may be occupying.
The city or county EEO Program is likely not transit-focused and therefore may not meet the EEO Program requirements in the FTA EEO Circular. For example, the reporting requirements in the FTA EEO Circular require counting transit-related employees, whereas a city or county EEO Program may count all employees of the city or county. However, if the city or county program fulfills all the requirements of FTA EEO Circular 4704.1A, then the city or county EEO Program may be sufficient for the transit agency’s submission. Even if the full city or county EEO Program is not sufficient for FTA submission, some components required by the FTA EEO Circular may overlap, and may be able to be used, such as the EEO Policy Statement.
If a city or county transit agency reaches the two-prong threshold noted in Circular Section 1.4, and is a direct recipient, the transit agency must submit an EEO Program to FTA that fulfills the requirements of Circular 4704.1A. If the entity is a subrecipient that meets the two-prong threshold in Circular Section 1.4, the program must be filed with the direct recipient.
A contractor must satisfy the EEO requirements for each transit agency with which it has a contract. For example, if Contractor A has contracts with five different transit agencies, it must meet the EEO requirements for each agency. When counting transit-related employees for purposes of the threshold, it would count how many transit-related employees it has with each transit agency. For example, if Contractor A has contracts with Transit Agency Y and Transit Agency Z, and has 60 transit-related employees at Y and 110 transit-related employees at Z, and met the monetary threshold for each, it would be required to submit an EEO Program to Transit Agency Z, as it met the thresholds, but would only be required to prepare and maintain an EEO Program as outlined in Circular Section 1.4 for Transit Agency Y.
While the contractor can have much of the same EEO Program for each of its direct recipients, the Assessment of Employment Practices, Goals and Timetables, and Utilization Analysis tables, when required based on the threshold, must be unique to the number of contractor employees working for the specific direct recipient.
Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(j) bus operators are required to ask the person without a disability to move to another seat. If, after the operator asks, the person refuses to move, the regulations do not require the operator to compel this person to move. However, a transit operator can decide to adopt a policy requiring people to vacate the seats.
An EEO Program that meets FHWA’s requirements do not necessarily meet FTA’s requirements, and therefore, it may not be acceptable. However, a State DOT may submit the same EEO Program to FHWA and FTA as long as the program includes all components and information required under FTA’s EEO Circular. Additionally, some State DOT’s may be required to submit an EEO Program to FHWA but not be required to submit to FTA. A State DOT must submit an FTA EEO Program if it meets the two-prong threshold in Circular Section 1.4. State DOT-specific EEO requirements are discussed in FTA EEO Circular Section 1.5. All of the components required in an FTA EEO Program are explained in FTA EEO Circular Chapter 2.
When a transit agency or State DOT crosses either the 100 transit-related employee two-prong threshold or the 50 transit-related employee two-prong threshold, both noted in Circular Section 1.4, the agency must self-report to FTA that it has crossed the threshold.
If the entity crosses the 50 transit-related employee threshold and meets the monetary threshold, the entity will be required to prepare and maintain, but not submit to FTA except upon request, a new abbreviated EEO Program within 90 days. Within 180 days, the entity will be required to implement its new EEO Program. FTA will follow up with the entity during its next oversight opportunity.
If the entity crosses the 100 transit-related employee threshold and meets the monetary threshold, the entity will be required to maintain its abbreviated EEO Program until FTA assigns an EEO Program Submission date to the entity and places the entity on a schedule to submit full EEO programs every four years. At the next EEO Program Submission date, the entity will be required to submit a full EEO Program as required under the updated Circular.
FTA’s EEO Circular outlines the requirements of an FTA EEO Program submission, which includes transit-focused information that is unlikely to be provided in submissions to other agencies. However, if the EEO Program submitted to the other government agency fulfills all the requirements of Circular 4704.1A, then a transit agency can use the same program.
The EEOC requires EEO-4 information from state and local government entities, and therefore, it is likely that all State DOTs, transit agencies, and subrecipients who submit or compile information for the EEOC use EEO-4 forms. All transit agencies and State DOTs that meet the two-prong threshold in Circular Section 1.4 are required to submit Utilization analyses with EEO-4 data to FTA. However, if a subrecipient or contractor uses EEO-1 forms, it must ask its direct recipient whether it prefers the information to be submitted with EEO-1 or EEO-4 categories. If the direct recipient prefers EEO-4 categories, the contractor must transfer the EEO-1 data to EEO-4 categories.
Yes. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.127, each public entity required to provide complementary paratransit service must make the service available to visitors as provided under the section. The transit entity must provide service to visitors who present documentation that they are ADA paratransit eligible in the jurisdiction in which they reside, under the criteria of 49 C.F.R. Section 37.125. If a visitor with a disability does not present such documentation, the transit entity may require documentation of the individual’s place of residence and of his or her disability, if the disability is not apparent. A transit operator is not required to provide service to a visitor for more than 21 days during any 365-day period; after that, the visitor may be required to apply for eligibility through the same processes established for residents under 49 C.F.R. Section 37.125.
Agencies with 50–99 transit-related employees who meet the monetary threshold are required to prepare and maintain an abbreviated EEO Program as noted in Circular Section 1.4, but are not required to submit to FTA unless requested. Agencies with between 50–99 transit-related employees that do not meet the monetary threshold are not required to prepare and maintain an abbreviated EEO Program. However, FTA applicants, recipients, subrecipients, and contractors who do not meet the EEO Program threshold are still required to comply with all EEO statutes and regulations.
No, paratransit providers are required to provide all eligible requested trips, not just trips to and from a single location. A person may take as many individual legs of a trip in a day as their schedule allows (factoring in pickup windows and time to complete their business), just as a fixed route user may take as many trips as he or she desires. For example, just as a person may take a fixed route from their home to work, then from work to an appointment, and then home again, so should a paratransit rider be able to. Each leg may be separately scheduled (that is, paratransit providers are not required to wait while a passenger runs into the post office, just as a fixed route user would be required to wait for the next bus).
Yes, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 27.123(b), an individual must file a written complaint with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) no later than 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the time for filing is extended by the FTA.
There is a time limit on how long a lift may remain unrepaired on a transit vehicle only if the vehicle is not taken out of service. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.163(d), when a lift is discovered to be inoperative, the entity must take the vehicle out of service before the beginning of the vehicle’s next service day and ensure that the lift is repaired before the vehicle returns to service. However, if there is no spare vehicle available to take the place of a vehicle with an inoperable lift, such that taking the vehicle out of service will reduce the transportation service the entity is able to provide, Section 37.163(e) permits the entity to keep a vehicle with an inoperable lift in service for no more than five days (if the entity serves an area of 50,000 or less population) or three days (if the entity serves an area of over 50,000 population) from the day on which the lift is discovered to be inoperative.
Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(d), transit providers are required to permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities. Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. A transit provider may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person's disability. A service animal may not be excluded unless the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to control it or the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.