May a transit agency suspend service to paratransit customers who fail to show up for their scheduled pickups?
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.