November 26, 2007
Re: FTA Complaint Number 07-0265
Dear [name withheld]:
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights has received your complaint filed August 22, 2007, against the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC)/CAT Paratransit Services, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. The Office of Civil Rights is responsible for ensuring that providers of public transportation properly implement 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 your complaint, you provide a copy of the July 16, 2007, letter of temporary eligibility granting you unconditional use of CAT through November 30, 2007, and recommending that you return for the outside portion of the functional assessment when the temperatures are more moderate. You believe that because your disabilities are permanent, your eligibility should not be limited to that four month period.
A member of our office contacted RTC to obtain its position and comments on your concerns. The transit agency’s Customer Service Office and ADA Certification Office indicated that this letter was sent to you to notify you that the transit agency decided to forgo the outside portion of the functional assessment because of the extreme temperatures in Las Vegas in July and the impact of the climate on your seizure disorder. The transit authority indicated that it had determined that you were conditionally eligible for paratransit during seasons of extreme temperature and that you were encouraged in July to return to participate in the outside portion of the functional assessment to allow the RTC to make a more thorough eligibility determination. The office indicated that you agreed to return for the outside portion of the assessment on November 5, 2007.
In conversations with you on November 5 and 6, 2007, before and after your outside assessment, you expressed the following concerns about paratransit service in general and the functional assessment process in particular:
You stated that ADA partransit fares are too high and that you should be provided paratransit service at the cost of the reduced fares for older adults and people with disabilities. The ADA regulations permit RTC to charge up to double the regular fixed route fare for a paratransit trip, and to add in applicable charges like transfer fees. Discounts (such as the half-fare discount for off-peak fixed route travel for people with disabilities) are not subtracted. You are encouraged whenever possible to utilize the fixed route service to take advantage of that reduced fare.
You stated that the staff person conducting the assessment told you that CAT was going to have you come back and recertify your eligibility every six months. The RTC ADA Paratransit Rider’s Guide states that “your [paratransit] identification card may be valid for up to a three year eligibility period.” CAT does have the right, under DOT’s regulations, to require you to apply for recertification when your current certification expires. The ADA regulations permit transit authorities to recertify paratransit eligibility at reasonable intervals (for example, between one and three years) to verify that changes in circumstances have not impacted a customer’s eligibility. Appendix D to the regulations states that a recertification interval of “less than one year would probably be too burdensome for consumers.”
If after receiving the agency’s written determination, you feel that the assessment process did not take all of your disabilities and all of the barriers that prevent you for using fixed route transportation into account, or if you feel the eligibility granted is for a period that is too short, you have the right to file an appeal with the transit authority and request an opportunity to present new information relevant to its decision. In addition, you also have the right to appeal any of the conditions placed on your travel.
The ADA regulations require that the written eligibility determination you receive must include the following:
”All determinations shall be in writing; in the case of a denial, reasons must be specified. The reasons must specifically relate the evidence in the matter to the eligibility criteria of this rule and of the entity's process. A mere recital that the applicant can use fixed route transit is not sufficient.
For people granted eligibility, the documentation of eligibility shall include at least the following information:
- The individual's name
- The name of the transit provider
- The telephone number of the entity's paratransit coordinator
- An expiration date for eligibility
- Any conditions or limitations on the individual's eligibility, including the use of a personal care attendant.
The last point refers to the situation in which a person is eligible for some trips but not others. Or if the traveler is authorized to have a personal care attendant ride free of charge. For example, the documentation may say that the individual is eligible only when the temperature falls below a certain point, or when the individual is going to a destination not on an accessible bus route, or for non-work trips, etc.”
As the transit agency has not yet had an opportunity to render its eligibility decision, we are taking no further action on your complaint at the present time. If after reviewing the agency’s written decision and pursuing the appeal process, you believe the transit agency has used improper certification or appeal procedures, however, please submit this information and we will consider opening your complaint.
David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights
Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., General Manager & CEO, MARTA
Denise Bell-Brown, Accessibility Coordinator, MARTA
Yvette G. Taylor, FTA Region IV Administrator
Frank Billue, FTA Region IV Civil Rights Officer