July 1, 2011
Re: FTA Complaint Number 11-0030
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against East Bay Paratransit, which was established by the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to meet their complementary paratransit obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring, which includes ensuring that providers of public transportation are in compliance with the ADA, Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38. The U.S. Department of Justice referred your complaint to DOT’s Departmental Office of Civil Rights, which forwarded it to FTA for appropriate action.
In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If FTA identifies what may be a violation, we first attempt to provide technical assistance to assist the public transit provider in complying with the ADA. If FTA cannot resolve apparent violations of the ADA or the DOT ADA regulations by voluntary means, formal enforcement proceedings may be initiated against the public transit provider which may result in the termination of Federal funds. FTA also may refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.
Each response is developed based on the specific facts and circumstances at issue. A determination resulting from a review of these facts is not intended to express an opinion as to the overall ADA compliance of that transit provider.
In your complaint, you state you are regular customer of East Bay for transportation to and from your place of employment. Due to the slope of the sidewalk and the distance from the building’s front entrance to the street, you requested that East Bay drivers drop you off at the back entrance for easier access into the building. You were denied this request by the transit provider. You further allege that your scheduled rides are either often late or fail to show up.
In response to your complaint, BART provided information and photographs of the site to FTA. BART explained that the paratransit vehicle would be required to drive across a sidewalk onto the pedestrian pathway to get to the rear of the building. Following up upon your previous request, it conducted two onsite reviews of the back entrance and determined that transporting vehicles to the back entrance presented safety issues regarding the pedestrian pathway.
We appreciate your taking the time to contact us regarding your concerns and have entered the details into our internal tracking system for administrative purposes; however, we find that we are not able to take further action. The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.129(a) provide that “complementary paratransit service for ADA paratransit eligible persons shall be origin-to-destination service.” This emphasizes the obligation of the transit providers to ensure that eligible passengers are actually able to use paratransit service to get from their point of origin to their point of destination. However, transit providers are not required to take actions to accommodate passengers’ needs that would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, create an undue burden, or present a direct threat to the safety of other individuals.
Here, BART determined through its onsite reviews that driving the paratransit vehicle to the back entrance of the building and through the pedestrian walkway created a safety hazard. FTA does not have information to suggest that BART’s assessment is incorrect.
Furthermore, in your complaint you make general allegations that several of your scheduled rides are late and sometimes do not show up. The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.131(f) prohibit transit entities from limiting paratransit service to eligible individuals by means of a “pattern or practice”—or a substantial number—of untimely pickups, trip denials, and other operational practices. Your correspondence does not provide details, such as dates and times, of the pickup issues that would be needed to substantiate that you are experiencing a pattern or practice of trip issues.
If you encounter difficulty with trips in the future, you may wish to file another complaint. We recommend maintaining a log of trip requests for at least 30 days—more if you ride the service infrequently—that records the dates and times for the requested and actual pickup times provided. An investigator would need these details to determine whether you were experiencing a “pattern or practice”—or a substantial number—of untimely pickups or missed trips. We also encourage persons to contact the transit provider before filing a complaint with our office to give the transit provider the opportunity to address the situation.
We have determined that in this situation the record does not support a finding that specific requirements of the DOT ADA regulations have been violated. We are therefore taking no further action and are closing your complaint as of the date of this letter. If you have any questions, please contact me or Tamie Nguyen at (202) 366-1340 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any further correspondence should reference FTA Complaint No. 11-0030. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
John R. Day
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights