May 8, 2009
Re: FTA Complaint Number 07-0061
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) 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 U.S 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 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.
Specifically, your complaint of October 20, 2006 alleged that:
- MATA provided you with numerous paratransit trips of excessive length, causing you to arrive late for work.
- MATA provided you with numerous untimely paratransit pickups.
We apologize for the delay in responding to your complaint. FTA investigated your allegations and sent an information request to MATA. We received a response from MATA that addressed and provided relevant information on your allegations. Each allegation is addressed in detail below:
1. MATA provided you with numerous paratransit trips of excessive length, causing you to arrive late for work.
DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.131(f)(i)(C) prohibit transit entities from limiting paratransit service to eligible individuals by means of a “pattern or practice”—or substantial number—of trips with excessive trip length.
It is important to stress that under the ADA, paratransit service is intended to function as a "safety net" for people with disabilities who are unable to make use of the fixed-route transit system (bus or rail). It is not intended to be a comprehensive system of transportation that meets all of the travel needs of persons with disabilities. As such, the level of service is required to be comparable to the fixed-route system, and the length of a trip on paratransit service is required to be comparable to a similar trip on the fixed-route system.
In its response to this office, MATA indicated that a fixed route trip comparable to the ones which you took from your residence to your work on paratransit in 2006 would have been approximately one hour and twenty eight minutes in length, not including travel time to the bus stop. Assuming a five minute walk on each end, your total trip time using comparable fixed route service would have been one hour and thirty eight minutes.
MATA provided Time and Distance Reports for your trips to work for the months of April 2006 through October 2006. Reviewing these records, FTA found that in no cases did your trip length exceed one hour and thirty eight minutes. Of your 109 trips taken over this time period, your lengthiest trip was sixty minutes. A total of thirty-seven of your trips exceeded fifty minutes. While such trip lengths may appear lengthy when compared to length of time which a private vehicle could transport you to your destination, ADA complementary paratransit is a shared ride and is intended to be comparable to fixed route service. The trips MATA provided you over this time period thus were not trips with excessive trip length.
FTA also sought to assess MATA’s current compliance with 49 CFR §37.131(f)(3)(i)(C). Using the Trip Planner provided on MATA’s website, FTA found that the current length of a comparable fixed route trip from your residence to work would be one hour and eleven minutes. This trip assumes a five minute walk from your residence at 3316 Burgess Drive to the bus stop at Chevron Road and Bestway Drive, boarding the route 56 bus at 6:11 am, arriving at the Danny Thomas Boulevard and Adams Avenue stop at 7:12 am, and a six minute walk to your destination at 616 Adams Avenue.
MATA also provided Time and Distance Reports for your trips to work for October 2008 through March 2009. From the data provided, it appears that MATA provided you with 107 paratransit trips from your residence to your work over these six months. Of these 107 paratransit trips, none were longer than a comparable fixed route trip. In fact, your longest paratransit trip from your residence to your work was 48 minutes and your average trip length was 26.5 minutes.
As MATA provided you with no trips of excessive length either in the six months prior to your complaint nor in the most recent six month, FTA does not find MATA to be out of compliance with 49 CFR §37.131(f)(3)(i)(C) in this instance.
2. MATA provided you with numerous untimely paratransit pickups.
DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.131(f)(3)(i)(A) prohibit transit entities from limiting paratransit service to eligible individuals by means of a “pattern or practice”—or substantial number—of trips with significantly untimely pickups.
FTA reviewed the Time and Distance Reports for your paratransit trips to work for the months of April 2006 through October 2006, and determined that MATA provided you with six pickups outside the thirty minute window surrounding your pickup time. Of these six untimely pickups, three occurred within ten minutes of the end of your pickup window, and the other three occurred within thirty minutes of the end of your pickup window.
MATA also indicated that over the six month period from October 2008 to March 2009 you were picked up late in two instances. On February 12, 2009, MATA’s paratransit vehicle arrived ten minutes after your pickup window. On March 12, 2009, MATA’s paratransit vehicle arrived thirty six minutes after your pickup window, causing you to be late to work.
While MATA should strive to achieve 100% on-time service, the six untimely pickups from April 2006 to October 2006 and the two untimely pickups from October 2008 to March 2009 do not appear to represent a pattern or practice of significantly untimely pickups. FTA therefore is unable to find that MATA is out of compliance with 49 CFR §37.131(f)(3)(i)(A) in this instance.
This concludes our processing of this matter and no further action will be taken at this time. While FTA’s decision in your case is administratively final, it does not prevent you from pursuing this matter privately in the appropriate court. If new or additional information comes to your attention, please contact Randelle Ripton of my staff at (202) 496-5086, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
John R. Day
Acting ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights
cc: William Hudson, Jr., General Manager, Memphis Area Transit Authority