April 29, 2009
Re: FTA Complaint Number 09-0194
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against Bi-State Development Agency (Metro), alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. 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 Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38.
In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze the complainant’s allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If we identity what may be a violation, we first attempt to provide technical assistance to address it by assisting the transit provider to comply 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 transportation provider that 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 base 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.
Specifically, your complaint of March 13, 2009 alleged that:
1. Metro devised a discriminatory fare structure for its premium paratransit service. Specifically, the proposed fare structure would charge one price for ambulatory riders and a different, higher price for passengers with wheelchairs.
DOT’s ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.5(d) state:
“An entity shall not impose special charges, not authorized by this part, on individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs, for providing services required by this part or otherwise necessary to accommodate them.”
Appendix D explains this provision in greater detail:
“The prohibition on special charges applies to charges for services to individuals with disabilities that are higher than charges for the same or comparable services to other persons. For example, if a shuttle service charges $20.00 for a ride from a given location to the airport for most people, it could not charge $40.00 because the passenger had a disability or needed to use the shuttle service’s lift-equipped van. Higher mileage charges for using an accessible vehicle would likewise be inconsistent with the rule. So would charging extra to carry a service animal accompanying an individual with a disability.”
On March 10, 2009, FTA informed Metro by letter that a fare structure which differentiates between accessible and inaccessible service violates the basic non-discrimination provisions of the ADA as well as DOT’s ADA regulations. It specifically stated that if Metro charges a $10 fare for premium service, it could not charge $20 for premium service to persons who require the use of an accessible vehicle or wheelchair lift. FTA asked that Metro make appropriate changes to its website and to revise the fare information presented at public meetings.
It is our understanding that this issue has been resolved; accordingly, we have administratively closed your complaint. If you find that Metro is charging a higher fare for accessible service please contact us again. If you have any questions, please contact me or Kim Zapfel of my staff at (202) 366-1713, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any further correspondence should reference FTA Complaint No. 09-0194. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
John R. Day
Acting ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights