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HRT ADA Compliance Review - August 23, 2010

Location: Hampton, VA 
Date of Final Report: August 23, 2010   

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) - Lift Maintenance  Transmittal Letter

August 23, 2010

Mr. Philip Shucet
President & Chief Executive Officer
Hampton Roads Transit
3400 Victoria Boulevard
Hampton, VA 23661

Dear Mr. Shucet:

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) compliance review of Hampton Roads Transit’s (HRT) fixed route services, initiated on September 15, 2008. The final report includes HRT’s comments , which were a revision to how we describe the yellow straps they give customers for better wheelchair securement and the correct titles of some of some people at the opening and closing conferences. TCR added a definition of MIS on page 16 and a description of why we include review team observations of whether or not vehicle operators check the functionality of kneelers on buses on page 27. The final report will be posted on FTA’s website.

Enclosed with this letter is a progress table listing FTA’s understanding of the corrective actions either planned or taken by HRT 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
  • Requested HRT to clarify specific corrective actions based on HRT’s response to the report findings

Please use the enclosed table as the format to report progress to FTA on the corrective actions that HRT 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 October 15, 2010, and should include data for the months of January through September 2010, and any actions completed prior to that date that have not already been addressed. Additional reports will be due by January 15, 2011 and April 15, 2011 and each calendar quarter thereafter until FTA releases HRT from this reporting requirement.

We recognize the progress that you have made in responding to the findings of the review as presented in your November 23, 2009, letter. In addition to these efforts, we request that your first progress report more fully respond to the following findings, which are also addressed in the progress table. This is not an exhaustive list of open findings, for that, please see the progress table.

4. Pull-out Inspections

5. Finding: Refresher training is provided in response to incidents of operator non-compliance and to reinforce particular issues identified by HRT management. There were plans in development at the time of review to start a regular schedule of comprehensive refresher training for all drivers, starting with the most senior drivers first.

November 23, 2009 Corrective Action Proposed by HRT: HRT ADA training of bus Operators includes the following policies and procedures during the new Operator and Refresher training:

  • The proper operation of the kneeling feature.
  • The proper deployment of the wheelchair/passenger lift.
  • An understanding of the proper capacity of dimensions and weights for occupied mobility devices.
  • The four-point tie-down and proper securement of the wheelchair to include the passenger lap and shoulder belt system.
  • Understanding the proper procedures for providing service in the event of a defective lift or ramp mechanical failure.
  • An overview of ADA requirements with regard to the securement process and proper boarding and alighting procedure for disabled passengers and others who may need assistance.
  • All ADA-related components of the vehicle.
  • The proper pre-trip process as required by ADA.

During initial training, written and hands-on testing are conducted to identify any operator who does not fully understand any aspect of the training. Such trainees would receive further training as appropriate.

Other methods for identifying operators who may not fully understand the accessibility features of the [bus] occur during refresher training, through customer complaints, and through the “Mystery Rider” program.

Our “Mystery Rider” program is conducted quarterly. Unidentified auditors act as the riding public and evaluate several performance areas to include ADA compliance.

Remedial training and discipline action in accordance with the Standards of Excellence (SOE) for an ADA violation are assessed as appropriate.

Further Reporting: In the next quarterly report, please indicate whether and how the items listed in the Corrective Action differ from the training program and operator monitoring in effect at the time of the review (which were thorough and complete). Also, please provide any data on instances of remedial training that was provided for drivers observed not to be proficient in these procedures.

5. Bus Operations

7. Finding: The training department keeps a record, by operator, of the new operator training, but there is no summary listing of training received for all operators, nor is this information kept in the employee’s personnel file.

November23, 2009 Corrective Action Proposed by HRT: The training department maintains records of all initial training as well as refresher training for each individual operator. These are coordinated with other personnel records, but kept separately for each operator.

Clarification of Corrective Action: The finding recognizes that training records are being maintained; however, there was no summary listing to enable superintendents and training managers to easily check the training status of all operators. Please report if this summary listing has been instituted.

7. Vehicle Specifications

3. Finding: Gillig MYs 1995, 2001, and 2008, Chance Trolley MY 1997, and Optima MY 2002 do not have front-facing seats in the front of the bus for priority seating.

November 23, 2009 Corrective Action Proposed by HRT: (a) Gillig MY 1995 is no longer in service – sold by auction August 2009.

(b) Chance Trolley MY 1997 will be retired from service within the next year with funding secured to replace vehicles. 

(c) Gillig MY 2001 1200 Series buses 1240-2036 (23 vehicles currently in service) problem can be resolved by designating the first forward facing seats as priority seating and labeled in accordance with 49 CFR 38.27

(d) Optima 2002 1400 Series buses 4010-4023 (14 vehicles currently in service) problem can be resolved by designating the first forward facing seats as priority seating and labeled in accordance with 49 CFR 38.27

(e) Gillig 2008 4000 series buses (hybrid electric) buses 1410-1423 (14 in service) do not have front facing seats in the front of the bus at all. The only front facing seats are in the very rear of the bus and can be reached only after two steps. It is neither practical nor safe to identify those rear seats as priority seating. The User Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities was consulted for input, and they decided that it would not be sensible to take any further action to designate the rear seats as priority seating due to the location of the seats (rear of the vehicle and elevated 2 steps)

(f) HRT will make sure that these findings will be complied with in future vehicle purchases and that vehicle specification reflect the need for forward facing seats in the front of the vehicle.

(a) Further Reporting: In the next quarterly report, please provide a current fleet roster and fleet replacement schedule.

(b) Clarification of Corrective Action: Given the difficulty of increasing headroom (Finding #5, below), retirement of the Chance Trolley within the next year is an acceptable corrective action; please continue to report on the planned retirement until it is accomplished.

(c, d) Further Reporting: In the next quarterly report, please provide an update on progress in designating these seats. Please note that it is acceptable to have side-facing priority seats as long as the first front-facing seat is also so designated.

(e) Clarification of Corrective Action: Despite the input of the User Advisory Committee, the regulation requires a priority seating sign over the first forward-facing seat. HRT may wish to consult with the manufacturer to see if a forward facing seat can be installed in place of two side-facing seats in the front of the bus. At a minimum, a priority seating sign should be placed above one of the forward facing seats at the rear of the bus (in addition to signs above the side facing seats at the front of the bus, which may remain.).

(f) Further Reporting: Is there a written policy regarding compliance with vehicle specification regulations that applies to all future HRT procurements? If so, please provide it with the next quarterly report.

4. Finding: In the Chance Trolley MY 1997 and Gillig MY 2001, the outer barrier ramp to the platform when at ground level is steeper than the allowable 1:8 slope.

November23, 2009 Corrective Action Proposed by HRT: (a) Chance Trolley MY 1997 will be retired from service within the next year with funding secured to replace vehicles.
(b) Gillig MY 2001 1200 series (23 vehicles currently in service). Lift is deployed at curb whenever possible to ensure safer slope ratio. Drivers are required to assist any passengers maneuvering the slope. We will make sure that these findings will be complied with in future vehicle purchases.

(a) Clarification of Corrective Action: Please see FTA response to Vehicle Specifications Finding 3(b), above.

(b) Clarification of Corrective Action: The deficiency in the slope of the outer barrier when the lift is deployed should be corrected. HRT should consult with the manufacturer and retrofit the lift with a barrier that is long enough (16 inches instead of the current 15 inches) to provide the required maximum slope.

Further Reporting: Please provide an update in the next quarterly report.

7. Finding: Gillig MY 1999 has excessive ramp slope with the bus kneeled, and there is no stepwell lighting at the rear door.

November23, 2009 Corrective Action Proposed by HRT: Gillig MY 1999 1200 series buses 1201-1227 (27 vehicles currently in service) will be retired within the next 2 years.
Retrofitting lights and adjusting ramp slope is not feasible.
The ramp is deployed at curbs whenever possible to ensure safer slope ratio. Drivers are required to assist any passengers maneuvering the slope.
We will make sure that these findings will be complied with in future vehicle purchases.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Given the design of the bus, modifying the ramp to achieve the required slope may be difficult, but the deficiency is significant, particularly when the ramp is deployed to a 6-inch curb (1:6.7 vs. the required 1:8 slope). HRT should consult with the manufacturer and determine whether a retrofit is possible (or if the kneeler can be adjusted to reduce the floor height after kneeling) and report on this in the next quarterly report.

Regarding stepwell lighting, a retrofit is a relatively simple modification. Achieving the required level of illumination (2 foot-candles) can be achieved in a number of ways. HRT should take steps to make the necessary retrofits and provide a progress update in the next quarterly report.

8. Finding: In two Gillig model years, the overhead handrail is either discontinuous (MY 2004) or has a transition which is too high above floor level to be used by most passengers (MY 1999).

November23, 2009 Corrective Action Proposed by HRT: Gillig MY 1999 will be retired within the next two years. MY 2004 will not be replaced for seven years.
Retrofitting overhead handrails is not feasible. Stanchions and handrails on seatbacks are available for passengers.
We will make sure that these findings will be complied with in future vehicle purchases.

Clarification of Corrective Action: While retrofitting may require some expense and effort, adding an overhead handrail transition section in the MY2004 and providing a lower overhead handrail in the MY 1999 is required by the regulation.

9. Finding: In Optima MY 2002, there is no overhead handrail aft of the rear door, and there is no lighting of the pavement surface outside both doorways.

November23, 2009 Corrective Action Proposed by HRT: Optima MY 2002 1400 series buses 1400-1409 (9 vehicles currently in service)
Retrofitting lights or handrails is not feasible.
MY2002 will be retired within the next 4 years.
We will make sure that these findings will be complied with in future vehicle purchases.

Clarification of Corrective Action: While retrofitting may require some expense and effort, adding segments of overhead handrail between the existing upright stanchions is required by the regulation. Adding an exterior light to illuminate the pavement outside both doors is also required. HRT should take steps to make the necessary retrofits and provide a progress update in the next quarterly report.

I commend you for the efforts that HRT has already made to correct the deficiencies identified in the draft report, and we anticipate your continued endeavors to fully implement your proposed corrective actions. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that you and your staff provided during this review. 

Should you have any questions about the enclosed report, the reporting table, or this letter, please contact Theresa Sullivan of my office at (202) 366-0765 or via e-mail: theresa.m.sullivan@dot.gov. Please provide a copy of each quarterly progress reporting table and copies of all correspondence to her via e-mail. An electronic copy of the reporting table is being forwarded to facilitate progress reporting.

It would also be very helpful if you would also provide courtesy copies of all correspondence to this office to Ms. Deborah Haines, FTA Regional Civil Rights Officer, at her e-mail address: deborah.haines@dot.gov.


Sincerely,

Cheryl L. Hershey
Director, Office of Civil Rights

Enclosures

cc: Letitia A. Thompson, FTA Region III Administrator
Deborah Haines, FTA Region III Civil Rights Officer
Michael McCollum, FTA Region III Director of Program Management & Oversight
Theresa Sullivan, Equal Opportunity Specialist
Homer Carter, HRT Senior Vice President for Transit Operations

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