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GPTC ADA Compliance Review - November 21, 2005

Location: Gary, IN
Date of Final Report: November 21, 2005

Gary Public Transportation  Transmittal Letter

November 21, 2005

Mr. Alfred Hammonds
General Manager
Gary Public Transportation Corp.
100 W 4th Avenue
P.O. Box 64903
Gary, IN  46401

Dear Mr. Hammonds:

Thank you for Gary Public Transportation Corporation’s (GPTC’s) response to the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) letter and preliminary report of findings of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) Complementary Paratransit compliance assessment conducted at GPTC from April 22-25, 2003.  Enclosed is the final report that incorporates GPTC’s 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.  It also may be posted on FTA’s official website here.

Enclosed with this letter is a progress table listing FTA’s understanding of the corrective actions either planned or already taken by the GPTC 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.

Following most of the areas where findings were made, we have:

  • Identified responses that adequately address the finding;
  • Requested documentation of results and outcomes; or
  • Requested GPTC to clarify specific corrective actions based on the transit agency’s response to the report findings.

Please use the enclosed table as the format to report progress to FTA on the corrective actions GPTC has completed or intends to implement as a result of our findings.  Please identify each response by item number (e.g., A.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 in the enclosed table.  The first report will be due January 15, 2006, and should include data for the months of October through December 2005, and any actions completed prior to that date that have not already been addressed.  Additional reports will be due by April 15, 2006, July 15, 2006, October 15, 2006, and each calendar quarter thereafter until FTA releases GPTC from this reporting requirement.

We recognize the progress that you have made in responding to the findings of the assessment as presented in your December 3, 2003, letter.  We would also like to acknowledge the many recent service improvements noted in your response letter and attached table.  These improvements indicate the transit agency’s intent and efforts to meet the transportation needs of persons with disabilities.  In addition to these efforts we request that your first quarterly progress report progress made in addressing the following findings, which are also addressed in the progress table.

B.  ADA Complementary Paratransit Eligibility Determinations

Finding:  GPTC does not have a policy concerning the youngest age at which a child may ride independently on fixed route and ADA Complementary Paratransit service.  Absence of a clear policy could result in denying ADA Complementary Paratransit service to eligible children who are old enough to independently use fixed route service. 

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  GPTC Board of Directors adopted fare structure including age on 5-9-2003.

Additional Reporting:  We have received the copy of the “GPTC Fare Structure,” listing on a chart fares for various ages.  Is there a written policy regarding the youngest age a child may ride independently on the fixed route and ADA Complementary Paratransit service, and if so please provide a copy with your next progress report.

4.   Finding:  On average GPTC makes eligibility determinations within 17 days of receipt of the application; however, the range is from 1 to 48 days.  Although the ADA eligibility determination process is a relatively simple one, it took more than 21 days to review almost one-third of the applications.  GPTC staff indicated that presumptive eligibility is granted to all applicants who have not received a determination within 21 days of submitting a completed application until an eligibility determination of is made. 

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  GPTC has made eligibility determinations within 21 days of receipt of applications.

Additional Reporting:  Please provide a list of applications received with date received and date of notification of the eligibility determination, during the period October 1 through December 31, 2005.  Please provide this information with your next progress report.

6.  Finding:  The grievance policy developed in response to the Triennial Review has not been fully implemented.  As a result, GPTC did not have an administrative appeal process as required by 49 CFR 37.125(g) at the time of the review.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC by 01/01/2004:  The revised policy will be developed in consultation with the rider advisory committee. 

Additional Reporting:  Please provide documentation of the development and implementation of the administrative appeals process.  Please include a copy of a revised eligibility determination letter, where the rider is found to be ineligible or partially eligible (conditional or otherwise), and that includes notice of their appeal rights.  In the sample letter you provided deeming the applicant ineligible, it does not appear that there is space for GPTC to state the reasons for the finding, as required by 49 CFR 37.125(d).  The reasons must specifically relate the evidence in the matter to the eligibility criteria.  The same should be done for partial eligibility.

Regarding the submitted “Ineligibilty Appeal Form,” an applicant should not have to “reserve the right to reapply if [their] condition changes.”  This implies an affirmative responsibility on the applicant and should be removed from the form, although you may choose to retain language about a change of circumstance or condition being an appropriate basis for reapplying.  This is particularly helpful when included in the eligibility application form itself.  Also, please clearly indicate on the form that the requested information regarding why the appellant thought GPTC’s decision was incorrect is optional; only the notice to you of the request for the appeal is required in a timely fashion in accordance with the DOT ADA regulations.

7.  Finding:  GPTC has a suspension policy for riders in which eight no-shows in a 12-month period could result in a 30-day suspension.  GPTC has not suspended any riders for excessive no-shows recently.  Nevertheless, this policy’s threshold for potential suspension may be an overly restrictive interpretation of the DOT ADA regulations. 

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC by 01/01/2004:  The revised policy will be developed in consultation with the rider advisory committee.

Additional Reporting: Please provide documentation of the revised no-show suspension policy.  Also, you indicate in your response to the draft report that you plan to include the revised no-show policy in the rider’s brochure; has this occurred, and if so please provide a copy.

8.   Finding:  The ADA Complementary Paratransit application form includes a section related to functional assessments and interviews, which are not currently part of the eligibility process.  It also includes a statement asking the person whether he/she wishes to appear, will send someone else or waives the right to appear.  These portions of the application could cause confusion and unnecessary effort in completion of the application and be an impediment to applying for service.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  This form was revised.

Additional Reporting:  We have received your revised application form and note that this section was deleted.  However, our review notes a request for what type of trip the applicant usually request, i.e. shopping, medical, etc.  Please revise this form to either delete this section, or add a statement that this is for administrative planning purposes only and does not affect applicant’s right to ride, as under the DOT ADA regulations you cannot prioritize trips based on trip purpose.

9.   Finding:  GPTC’s approval letter is confusing in that it also includes information that would pertain to persons who were either found to be ineligible or conditionally eligible.  This confusion could delay eligible riders in using the service.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  Separate letters were implemented to alleviate any confusion.

Additional Reporting:  See additional reporting regarding the ineligible letter in B.6 above.  Also, please note that in your form letter granting eligibility for ADA paratransit service, there is a typo that could lead to confusion.  It states in the opening paragraph that service is available “when none or more of the following conditions exist.”  Please consider revising.

C.  Telephone Access, Trip Reservations, Scheduling, and Dispatching

Finding:  The ADA Coordinator sometimes schedules trips at the same time on the same vehicle in two different locations.  As a result, it may be difficult for the driver to pick up both customers within the 20-minute on-time pick-up window. 

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  The trip schedules were revised to reflect requested time of actual pick-up times of passengers.
Clarification of Corrective Action:  Do driver schedules continue to have pick-ups at two different locations at the same time?  If the schedules have been revised to reflect travel time between the two locations, what procedure has been implemented to accomplish this change?

3.   Finding:  GPTC does not record requested trip times and trip offers to customers other than for scheduled trips.  GPTC does not record trip requests as either for appointments or pick-ups.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  Management records were revised to record trip times including appointment times.

Additional Reporting:  Please provide completed forms or records for recording trip requests and trip offers for the week of December 4-10, 2005.

4.   Finding:  GPTC appears to have a small number of denials each month. 
Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  Passengers are offer [sic] an alternative time trip within one hour of requested time, when necessary to eliminate denials.

Additional Reporting:  In addition to the additional reporting for C.3, please provide a summary of the number of denials for the months of October through December 2005.

5.  Finding:  GPTC does not appear to count denials in a manner consistent with the regulations and does not have a clear procedure for counting the trip denials.

GPTC records a trip denial as a customer declining a time offered other than the requested time.  This definition includes times offered within one hour of the requested time, which could be considered customer refusals rather than denials.

GPTC does not record trip offers made more than one hour from the customer’s requested time as denials if the customer accepts the request.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC by 05101/03:  Denials are recorded now according to Federal regulations; however, written procedures are being prepared.
Additional Reporting:  In addition to the additional reporting for C.4, please provide documentation of the revised written procedures for recording denials.

D.  Service Operation – On-Time Performance

2.   Finding:  GPTC does not track on-time performance for meeting appointment times.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC:  Management reports reflect both actual pick-up and drop-off times of passengers.
Additional Reporting:  Please provide a list of trips with scheduled appointment times and actual drop-off times for the week of December 4-10, 2005.  Also, please provide an explanation of your definition of on-time performance.  We note your “ADA Quarterly Narrative Report” provided in your response to the draft report stated, “on time performance log sheet monitors pickup time scheduled to actual pick up time.” Does this monitoring include consideration of the pick-up window.

4.  Finding:  When trips are rescheduled during the service day because a customer is unable to travel at the scheduled time due to a medical condition, GPTC does not create a new trip record.  As a result, the actual time of performance of the trip is inaccurate and the trip duration may be overstated.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC by 05/01/03:  The excused no show has been instituted and a new same-day trip is being offered.  The new method will have to be included in the revised brochure.

Additional Reporting: Please provide us with documentation of the revised procedures, and a copy of the brochure.

5.  GPTC’s policy for no-shows is to wait five minutes after the scheduled time before declaring the customer a no-show.  Staff described the practice as waiting until five minutes after the pick-up window (15 minutes after the scheduled pick-up time).  Both the policy and practice could delay drivers and customers in serving other trips.  

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC by 05/01/03:  The revised no-show procedure has been implemented; however, a revision must be made to the rider brochure.

Additional Reporting: Please provide documentation of the revised procedures, and a copy of the brochure.  

E.  Resources

4.   Finding:  The fleet assigned for use for ADA Complementary Paratransit Services appears to limit access for people who are ambulatory but have a mobility impairment.  The design of the vehicle entrance makes entry and egress quite difficult and it is virtually impossible to secure two wheelchairs in the back of the van.

Corrective Action Proposed by GPTC as of 06/30/03:  Two vehicles have been repaired by the maintenance department to make the vans more readily accessible for ambulatory passengers.  The seats were realigned.

Additional Reporting: Please provide us with a description of the vehicle modifications, such as a floor plan or photographs. 

GPTC’s December 3, 2003, letter and attachments raised one an additional concern.  Regarding missed trips, at the time of the compliance review, GPTC counted as a missed trip when, through no fault of the passenger, GPTC failed to provide service for a scheduled trip.  (Page 28.)  However, your “ADA Quarterly Narrative Report” states that “Gary Public Transportation Corporation late and missed trips log sheet monitors the trips delivered so late the passenger missed their appointment or canceled the reservation.”  This is not a correct definition of a missed trip.  Please confirm that you are using the definition found in the compliance review.  We request that you categorized those trips as missed when the vehicle does not show up for a scheduled pickup or when the vehicle arrives after the scheduled pickup window and the passenger either is not there or refuses a ride.  Trips that take place where the driver arrives after the pick-up window and the rider accepts the ride should be classified as late trips.

We recognize the efforts that the Gary Public Transportation Corp. has already made 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 assessment.  If you have any questions about this matter, please contact me or David Knight, Equal Opportunity Specialist, at (202) 366-0805, or at his electronic mail address: david.knight@fta.dot.gov.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Winter
Director, Office of Civil Rights

Enclosure:  Progress Table

cc:  Don Gismondi, FTA Region V Acting Administrator
Dwight Sinks, FTA Region V Civil Rights Officer

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