April 17, 2008
Re: FTA Complaint Number 07-0240
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) 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 June 22, 2007, alleged that:
RT Light Rail drivers will not request that non-disabled passengers seated in areas designated as priority seating give up their seats for disabled riders. Your complaint revolves around a light rail accident on May 31, 2007.
FTA investigated your allegation and sent an information request to RT. We received a response from RT that provided relevant information. Your allegation is addressed in detail below.
The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.167(j) state that transit entities shall request that non-disabled passengers move from priority seating areas (or other seats as necessary) when an individual with a disability enters a vehicle, and because of a disability, the individual needs to sit in a seat or occupy a wheelchair securement location. Because there is not always a transit employee on each car, this requirement applies to light rail systems only to the extent practicable.
You allege that on multiple instances, drivers will not request non-disabled passengers to move from the priority seating areas or other seats on the light rail, including a specific incident on May 31, 2007. RT provided us with their response to you, dated July 23, 2007. Their letter specified that they did not condone the actions that you described and that they would continue to ask non-disabled persons to vacate the priority seating area when it is needed by elderly or disabled passengers. They would not, however, be able to force people to move. According to this same letter, you were informed that RT policy dictates that operators must use their best efforts and, if necessary, are expected to use the PA system to request that passengers vacate the priority seating area. Operators are expected to report to radio control if there is a refusal to vacate the priority seating area—particularly if a passenger traveling in a wheelchair will be required to wait for the next bus or train—and advise the passenger if the operator was unsuccessful in clearing the space and inform the passenger as to when the next bus or train will arrive, if appropriate. Each operator receives training on all policies in the District Guide and receives annual ADA refresher training. During FTA’s investigation of your complaint, RT also informed us that you did not complain about the May 31 incident until July 19. In the future, you should bring such incidents to RT’s attention immediately so that RT has the ability to investigate your complaint thoroughly. RT’s Customer Advocacy Department can be reached at (916) 557-4545 or via email at email@example.com.
Please note that if you are not able to stand when no seats are available, and because RTA has not adopted a policy that requires individuals to vacate priority seating, then you could be eligible for RT’s next-day origin-to-destination paratransit service. Eligibility is available for riders such as yourself who might be unable, as the result of a physical impairment, to board, ride, or disembark any vehicle on the system. You may request an application by calling 916-557-4685.
Since RT’s policy is in line with the DOT ADA regulations detailed above, and after reviewing all of the submitted materials, the FTA Office of Civil Rights has not found RT 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
Michael Wiley, General Manager/CEO, Sacramento Regional Transit District
Laura Ham, Director of Accessible Services & Customer Advocacy, Sacramento Regional