March 13, 2008
Re: FTA Complaint Number 07-0021
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against the Muskegon Area Transit System (MATS) 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 properly implement Title II of 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 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 December 10, 2006, alleged that:
You were discriminated against when your disabled monthly pass was not accepted for a trip on September 26, 2006. When you refused to pay extra fare, you were forced to de-board the bus.
FTA investigated your allegation and sent an information request to MATS. We received a response from MATS that addressed and provided relevant information on your allegation. Your allegation is addressed in detail below.
You provided us with a summary of the events that occurred on September 26, 2006. You stated that you boarded a MATS bus at around 3:10 pm. As you were boarding, you showed your monthly disabled bus pass. As you sat down, you claim that the bus driver asked you for either a MATS discount fare card or a Medicare card as proof of disability in addition to the pass you had already provided. You did not have either of these, so you were asked to pay a full fare. When you refused, you were asked to leave the bus, which you eventually did.
MATS provided thorough documentation regarding your complaint, and their details of the incident do not differ significantly from yours. MATS also provided a copy of the bus schedule and monthly disabled pass that were in effect at the time of your incident. Although the bus pass itself does not state that you need additional documentation to use it, the bus schedule clearly states that “Persons with disabilities must show a MATS Discount Fare card or Medicare card as proof of eligibility [for discount fares]. (Temporary Medicare cards are accepted as proof of disability).” MATS also indicated that this information was included in the brochure given to all customers when they purchased the monthly disabled bus pass.
Even though this information was provided to you when you purchased the monthly pass, as a result of this incident MATS has added specific language directly to the monthly pass that indicates that additional documentation (Medicare card or MATS Discount Fare card) is required if a person wishes to use the monthly pass. MATS also refunded the purchase price of your pass as you requested, offered you a free monthly pass, and allowed the bus driver to participate in a Balanced and Restorative Justice Program with you on March 12, 2007.
After reviewing all of the submitted materials, the FTA Office of Civil Rights has not found MATS to be in violation of the DOT ADA regulations. As the investigation phase of this process has been completed, we are closing your complaint as of the date of this letter.
This concludes our processing of this matter and no further action will be taken. If new information comes to your attention, please contact us. 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 you have any questions regarding our determination, please contact Stephanie Sharer, at (202) 366-0272 or at her e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights
James A. Koens, Transit Systems Manager
Marisol Simon, FTA Region V Administrator
Dwight Sinks, FTA Region V Civil Rights Officer