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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

San Mateo County Transit District, San Carlos, CA, 5-02-08

May 2, 2008

Re: FTA Complaint Number 08-0172

Dear [name withheld]:

This letter responds to your complaint against the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) 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 March 21, 2008, alleged that:

On March 18, 2008, you experienced a ride with SamTrans’ Redi-Wheels paratransit service where the door malfunctioned and as a result, you were kept inside the bus for more than two hours, resulting in a medical situation.

FTA investigated your allegation and sent an information request to SamTrans.  We received a response from SamTrans that addressed and provided relevant information on your allegation.  Your allegation is addressed in detail below.

You provided us with a narrative of the situation that occurred on March 18, 2008.  After your dialysis treatment, you were picked up by Redi-Wheels.  At the time, there was another passenger in the vehicle.  After you had been picked up and the other passenger was taken to their destination, the door of the paratransit vehicle became stuck and could not be opened.  The Redi-Wheels operator called for a maintenance crew to open the door.  During this wait, you allege that you were kept inside the paratransit vehicle for two hours, at which point your blood sugar was lowered to dangerous levels.  When the driver noticed that you had become ill, he called 911 (your husband was also notified), and you were taken to the hospital.  Your doctor later reported that you had become ill mainly due to the drop in your blood sugar while you were in the paratransit vehicle.

SamTrans’ report of the incident was similar to yours, indicating that the vehicle had mechanical problems with the lift doors which prevented customers from disembarking.  SamTrans also noted that there was a delay in getting the right tools to the scene to respond to the mechanical failure.  They regret the incident and note that they have an average of over 21,000 miles between mechanical breakdowns of Redi-Wheels vehicles for the current fiscal year.

Although your situation was regrettable and unfortunate, your complaint does not show a pattern or practice on the part of SamTrans to warrant a finding of non-compliance with the ADA.  Therefore, 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:  Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.


David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights

cc: [name withheld]
Bill Welch, ADA Coordinator, SamTrans
Tina Dubost, Accessibility Coordinator, SamTrans
Leslie T. Rogers, FTA Region IX Administrator
Derrin Jourdan, FTA Region IX Civil Rights Officer