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AMA ADA Compliance Review - October 15, 2007

Location: San Juan, PR 
Date of Final Review: October 15, 2007

Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (AMA)  Transmittal Letter

October 15, 2007

Mr. Alexis Morales
President and General Manager
Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses
PO Box 195349
San Juan, PR 00919-5349

Re: ADA Compliance Review of AMA Fixed Route Service

Dear Mr. Morales:

Thank you for your response to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) letter and preliminary report of findings of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) Review of Lift Reliability and Maintenance for Operation of Accessible Fixed Route Bus Service, conducted at the Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (AMA) from March 5 to 8, 2007. Enclosed is the Final Report that incorporates AMA’s official response by attachment. As of the date of this letter, the Final Report became a public document and is subject to dissemination under the Freedom of Information Act of 1974, and will be posted on our website.

Enclosed with this letter is a progress table listing FTA’s understanding of the corrective actions either planned or taken by AMA in response to the preliminary findings contained in the draft report. If you feel that our summarization of corrective actions is inconsistent with your response, please inform us in writing as soon as possible.

  • Based on our understanding of each of AMA’s responses to the findings, we have:
  • Identified whether the response adequately addresses the finding
  • Requested any needed documentation of results and outcomes
  • Requested, when appropriate, that AMA clarify specific corrective actions in response to the finding

Please use the enclosed table as the format to report progress to FTA on the corrective actions that AMA has completed or intends to implement as a result of our findings. Please identify each response by item number (e.g., 1.1, etc.). The requested documentation, along with updates on the status of implementation of proposed corrective actions, should be provided in quarterly reports to FTA. Each report should include the planned and actual completion date of the corrective action, the current status and contact person information for each corrective action, and specific reporting requests cited in this letter and on the enclosed table. The first report will be due on January 15, 2008, and should include data for the months of October through December 2007 and describe any actions completed prior to that date that have not already been addressed.

Additional reports addressing the remaining open findings will be due by April 15, 2008, July 15, 2008, and each calendar quarter thereafter until FTA releases AMA from this reporting requirement. FTA will attempt to respond to each quarterly report that it receives from AMA, but please note that quarterly reports are due from AMA regardless of whether FTA has responded to the previous report.

We recognize the progress that you have made in responding to the findings of the review as presented in the September 7, 2007, e-mail from Lourdes Suarez Morales. In addition to these efforts, we request that your first progress report more fully respond to the findings, as described in the progress table. Some key findings and the corresponding AMA responses are copied below. Please respond to all the findings in the progress table, using the provided table format.

1. Operation of Buses with Inoperable Lifts

1. Finding: AMA operates buses with inoperable lifts in passenger service. Observations of the pull-out process and the working condition of lifts and ramps at the AMA facility found that on March 6, 2007, only 28 of the 56 buses inspected (50 percent) had an operating lift or ramp. None of the five Flxible buses observed during pull-out had an operating lift. Both of the RTS 30-foot buses had operating lifts. The one New Flyer bus observed had an operating ramp. All 28 vehicles that were observed during pull-out to have a non-operating lift continued into service.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: Needs assessments of the maintenance and bus operations areas were performed during June & July by each new vice president. Some recommendations are already implemented and others are in the process of being implemented.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Please provide a description in the next quarterly progress report of the specific steps being taken to address this finding.

Additional Reporting: Please provide a table documenting the use of buses with inoperable lifts in revenue service during the quarter.

2. Finding: During interviews with drivers, several mentioned that they do not have the keys required to operate the lifts. As a result, some buses with otherwise operable lifts cannot be used.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: No response provided.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Please provide a description in the next quarterly progress report of the specific steps being taken to address this finding.

3. Finding: AMA appears to place buses with inoperable lifts in service when there are buses with operable lifts available. AMA assigned buses with inoperable lifts to passenger service on Saturday and Sunday, February 3 and 4, 2007—36 percent of the buses in revenue service on each day had inoperable lifts. It appeared that AMA had a sufficient number of vehicles with operable lifts so that it could have deployed fully accessible fleets on those two days.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: Needs assessments of the maintenance and bus operations areas were performed during June & July by each new vice president. Some recommendations are already implemented and others are in the process of being implemented.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Please provide a description in the next quarterly progress report of the specific steps being taken to address this finding.

Additional Reporting: Include information for Saturdays and Sundays as requested under Finding 1.1.

2. Operation of Inoperable Lifts for More than Three Days

1. Finding: AMA operates buses with inoperable lifts in service for more than three days. Thirty-eight vehicles (representing 23 percent of typical weekday pull-out) with inoperable lifts on February 1, 2007, were assigned to service on more than three days during the period February 1 to 5, 2007, according to AMA daily pull-out records. Twenty-four 1995 Flxible buses are regularly used in service even though their lifts are inoperable. Fourteen of the Flxible buses were assigned to service on February 1, 2007. Fifty-six buses awaiting parts for inoperable lifts are available for daily service. Twenty-seven of theses buses were assigned to service on February 1, 2007.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: Needs assessments of the maintenance and bus operations areas were performed during June & July by each new vice president. Some recommendations are already implemented and others are in the process of being implemented.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Please provide a description in the next quarterly progress report of the specific steps being taken to address this finding.

Additional Reporting: Please provide a table documenting the use of buses with inoperable lifts in revenue service for more than three days during the quarter.

3. Routine Maintenance Checks

1. Finding: AMA employees do not perform regular daily maintenance checks of lifts to determine their operability. AMA drivers do not cycle their vehicles’ lifts prior to pull-out. Drivers do not have regular pre-trip inspections, and they do not have any checklist or inspection form to document vehicle defects for maintenance and repair.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: A new procedure and checklist was developed. It's being updated with the information from the Project Management Oversight Consultant (PMOC) workshops. A pre-trip vehicle check procedure will be implemented within the month of October 2007. A form was already developed and it will be discussed with the PMOC meeting in September. Subsequently, the implementation of the form will be coordinated with the T.U.A.M.A. Union representatives.

A new shop division is proposed to address quick fixes form the checklist as well as to certify and forward long fixes from inspection and from service returns. The inspection includes ramps. The procedure is expected to start within next two months and the new shop division is expected to start within current year. As a double check measure, ramp inspections are performed during pull-in every 20 days approximately. This procedure will be amended within next month to be performed more frequent, to eventually be performed daily. The fluids/gas form is going to be updated to include a ramp check. A new procedure for digital information maintenance will be implemented also within next month to include this check and for determining trends.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort.

4. Reporting Lift Failures

1. Finding: Operators do not immediately report lift failures. Since operators do not consistently perform pre-trip inspections, they are not always able to identify and report inoperable lifts before entering service.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: A pre-trip vehicle check procedure will be implemented within the month of October 2007. A form was already developed and it will be discussed with the PMOC meeting in September. Subsequently, the implementation of the form will be coordinated with the T.U.A.M.A. Union representatives. Draft forms are provided with the AMA response.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort.

2. Finding: Operators reported 28 inoperable lifts to the AMA Control Center during February 2007. AMA reported 66 buses with inoperable lifts used in service on February 1. It appears that operators are not reporting all inoperable lifts to the Control Center.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: Bus drivers were instructed to notify the Communication Center when the lift was not operating and a passenger requires service. Bus terminal supervisors are informed by Communication Center to send the stand-by vehicles to pick up these passengers using two old Paratransit units that were rehabilitated to support routes where the ramp got damaged. A third will be rehabilitated within next couple of months.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort. Please also provide copies of any new internal memoranda or updates to current materials explaining the procedures for reporting lift failures. Also, indicate whether any employees have been penalized for failing to abide by the instructions. Finally, please indicate the date and time for each instance where a paratransit vehicle was dispatched to pick up a rider after a lift failure.

5. Maintenance of Lifts & Other Accessibility Features

Please note that we mistakenly categorized findings 5.1 to 5.7 as “No Response Required” in the table that accompanied the Draft Report. FTA does request responses for these seven findings in future reports, as noted in the Reporting Table.

Finding: AMA fails to maintain lift systems on its fixed route buses in good repair. Based on information collected during the period from October 2006 through February 2007 from four reporting sources, the total number of buses identified as having inoperable lifts during one of the inspections was 163, representing 63 percent of the active fleet of 259 buses.

Additional Reporting: In the next quarterly progress report, please reply to this finding.

Finding: Eight (36 percent) of the 22 securement and restraint systems observed at pull-out were not clean.

Additional Reporting: In the next quarterly progress report, please reply to this finding.

Finding: Sixteen (40 percent) of 40 vehicles observed at pull-out did not have a proper ISA displayed on the exterior of the bus near the accessible entrance.

Additional Reporting: In the next quarterly progress report, please reply to this finding.

Finding: The 40-foot Flxible buses do not have operating lifts.

Additional Reporting: In the next quarterly progress report, please reply to this finding.

Finding: An inspection of two sample 40-foot Orion V buses found one bus with a lift that did not operate. The other 40-foot Orion V bus met all but one ADAAG requirements: a “stop request” control that did not work (49 CFR §38.37(a)).

Additional Reporting: In the next quarterly progress report, please reply to this finding.

Finding: An inspection of two sample 40-foot RTS buses found one bus with a lift that did not operate. The other 40-foot RTS bus did not meet two ADAAG requirements: no sign designating priority seating for persons with disabilities, and a “stop request” control that did not work.

Additional Reporting: In the next quarterly progress report, please reply to this finding.

Finding: The 35-foot New Flyer buses with low floors and ramps appear to meet all ADAAG vehicle specifications. The 30-foot RTS buses appear to meet all ADAAG specifications except for the sign designating the wheelchair securement locations. The sign was placed over side-facing seats rather than forward-facing seats.

Additional Reporting: In the next quarterly progress report, please reply to this finding.

10. Finding: There was a consensus among consumers interviewed that bus stops are not accessible. Sidewalks are inaccessible, curb ramps are limited, and vehicles park in bus stops making it difficult or impossible to deploy lifts/ramps on the sidewalk level. The on-site review team’s observations while riding the fixed route system confirmed their accounts.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: No response provided.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Please indicate actions taken to bring these issues to the attention of the proper authorities.

13. Finding: The lifts on the 1995 Flxible buses are inoperable and cannot be repaired. The manufacturer is no longer in business and spare parts are not available for these lifts. AMA is considering a lift replacement program at a cost of $15,000 to $18,000 per lift. If the inoperable lifts are not replaced or repaired, the Flxible buses must be permanently removed from service.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: No response provided.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Please provide a description in the next quarterly report of progress made toward addressing this finding.

6. Prompt Repair of Lifts

1. Finding: AMA fails to repair inoperable lifts promptly. Of the 163 buses identified as having inoperable lifts from four reporting sources spanning the period October 2006 through February 2007, work orders for repairs were issued for 43 (26 percent). Additionally, there was no record of repair for 85 of the 163 buses identified with inoperable lifts (52 percent), which also were not identified as awaiting parts. 

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: In order to address the defective ramps issue, on May 2007 a ramp repair drive was conducted, in addition to regular repairs. The results as of August 22, 2007 found that of 150 buses, 105 were repaired, 20 had maintenance issues that were addressed, 14 were still not working, 9 are to be dropped from service, and 2 did not have information provided.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort.

3. Finding: At the time of the review, there were thirteen 2004-5 Orion buses with inoperable lifts because parts were out of stock. Parts from the recommended parts list were not purchased at the time of the bus purchase. Parts were being ordered on an as-needed basis, resulting in increased numbers of inoperable lifts

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: See response to Finding 6.2.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort.

4. Finding: At the time of the review there was no procedure in place to automatically notify the Operations (maintenance) Department when out-of-stock parts were received. As a result, buses with inoperable lifts were not being repaired because the maintenance staff was still awaiting parts that, in fact, had been received and were in stock.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: See response to Finding 6.2.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort.

7. Accommodation of Customers with Disabilities

2. Finding: AMA does not have a centralized customer complaint process. Complaints may be filed through various departments by phone, in person, or by text messaging or e-mailing AMA staff. According to AMA, most complaints are filed with the Programming and Services Department, the communication center, the Legal Department, or the Office of the President/General Manager; however, many complaints may not be counted or addressed in an organized way. Complaints are filed by operator or employee, not in a central file.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: A new manager is being recruited to address the establishment of a customer complaint procedure and providing sensitivity training workshops to bus drivers and bus terminal employees. As part of this effort, seven sessions of training workshops were programmed with educational Staff from the Puerto Rico Office for Disabled Persons – OPPI (its acronym in Spanish). This training program will take place from September to November 2007. The Customer Complain Program is currently under evaluation of existing procedures and planning process.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort.

4. Finding: Operators do not appear to understand that people with disabilities who do not use scooters or wheelchairs must be allowed to use the lift when, as a result of their disability, it is required to access the vehicle. Nine of 10 operators interviewed said that it was not required or that they would not allow it, based on safety concerns. One rider interviewee who uses a walker and cannot use the steps to board the bus said that operators often refuse to deploy the lift in response to her request, stating that the lift is only for people who use wheelchairs. In 2006, AMA issued two driver bulletins reminding drivers that the lift or ramp may be used by passengers upon request, but widespread misunderstanding among operators appears to persist.

Corrective Action Proposed by AMA: See response to Finding 7.2.

Additional Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report regarding the status of this effort. Please also clarify whether the training effort described in 7.2 includes instruction in when use of lifts is required for people with disabilities. 

Please also indicate what, if any, efforts have been made to ensure compliance by operators. For example, indicate whether there have been any changes to disciplinary procedures and whether any operators have been disciplined for failing to allow people with disabilities to use the lifts.

We recognize the efforts that AMA has already taken to correct the deficiencies identified in the draft report, and we anticipate your continued endeavors to take further corrective actions as noted in this letter. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that you and your staff have provided us during this review. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact me or Mr. Jonathan Klein, Equal Opportunity Specialist, at (202) 366-0809 or at his e-mail address: jonathan.klein@dot.gov.

It would also be helpful to us if you would provide a copy of all correspondence to this office to the FTA Region IV Civil Rights Officer at the following address:

Mr. Frank Billue
Civil Rights Officer, Region IV
Federal Transit Administration
61 Forsyth Street, SW, Suite 17T50
Atlanta, GA 30303


Sincerely,

David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights
Enclosures

cc: 
Yvette G. Taylor, FTA Region IV Administrator
Frank Billue, FTA Region IV Civil Rights Officer
Dudley Whyte, FTA Region IV Director of Operations & Program Management

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