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SMART ADA Compliance Review - February 1, 2007

Location: Detroit, MI  
Date of Final Review: February 1, 2007

Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) Transmittal Letter

February 1, 2007

Mr. Dan G. Dirks
General Manager
Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation
First National Building
660 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226

Dear Mr. Dirks:

Thank you for your response to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) letter and preliminary report of findings of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) compliance review of reliability, maintenance, and operation of accessible fixed route bus service conducted at the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) from May 9 to 12, 2005. Enclosed is the Final Report that incorporates SMART’s December 13, 2006, response by attachment. As of the date of this letter the Final Report became a public document and is subject to dissemination under the Freedom of Information Act of 1974. It will also be made available on FTA’s website.

Enclosed with this letter is a progress table listing FTA’s understanding of the corrective actions either planned or taken by SMART in response to the preliminary findings contained in the draft report. If you feel that our summarization of corrective actions is inconsistent with your response, please inform us in writing as soon as possible.

  • Following most of the areas where findings were made, we have:
  • Identified responses that adequately address findings
  • Requested documentation of results and outcomes
  • Requested SMART to clarify specific corrective actions based on SMART’s response to the report findings

Please use the enclosed table as the format to report progress to FTA on the corrective actions SMART has completed or intends to implement as a result of our findings. Please identify each response by finding number. The requested documentation, along with updates on the status of implementation of proposed corrective actions, should be provided in quarterly reports to FTA. Each report should include the planned and actual completion date of the corrective action; the current status and contact person information for each corrective action; and specific reporting requests cited in this letter and on the enclosed table. The first report will be due on April 16, 2007, and should include data for the months of January through March 2007, and any actions completed prior to that date that have not already been addressed. Additional reports will be due by July 15, 2007, October 15, 2007, January 15, 2008, and each calendar quarter thereafter until FTA releases SMART from this reporting requirement.

We would like to take this opportunity to repeat the first finding of the review, which stated that SMART is to be commended for the numerous efforts it has made to make its fixed route service accessible and reliable. We also recognize the progress that you have made in responding to the findings of the review as presented in your December 13, 2006, letter, and we thank you for your flexibility and creativity in addressing these issues. In addition to these efforts, we request that your first progress report more fully respond to the following findings, which are also addressed in the progress table.

11. Finding: While most SMART bus operators who were interviewed had a good understanding of accessibility policies and procedures, some operators were not aware of certain requirements for passenger assistance and accommodating service animals. Of the 28 bus operators interviewed, one said she was not allowed to physically push someone up or down the ramp. Another indicated that he might help “from his seat” by verbally providing guidance. Another indicated that there had been “mixed messages” about whether assistance should be provided and about the exact type of assistance to be provided. Three operators indicated that they would not allow a dog on board unless it had a harness or the passenger “had a cane,” or there was some identification of the dog as a service animal.

Corrective Action Proposed by SMART: As part of the training and retraining of drivers, emphasis is now placed on communicating to riders who are denied service due to a ramp failure, that an accessible vehicle will come within one-half hour to pick them up and take them to their desired transfer point or destination. Road Supervisors drive ramp equipped, wheelchair accessible vehicles to serve in this capacity.

Clarification of Corrective Action and Additional Reporting: Note that this finding was that some SMART bus operators were not aware of requirements and policies related to providing assistance to riders using bus ramps, and that some SMART bus operators did not have a complete understanding of service animals. By comparison, the proposed corrective action addresses policies when there is a ramp failure. 

It is noted, though, that the corrective action proposed for Finding #20 states that ongoing training and retraining on accommodating service animals will continue in 2007 and that SMART will work with its Local Advisory Council to evaluate its policies related to assisting riders up and down ramps.

Please revise the proposed corrective action for this finding to address training regarding service animals and policies for assisting riders up and down ramps. Please also report on progress in these areas in the Quarterly Progress reports.

19. Finding: Team members’ review of SMART’s vehicle maintenance and operations records identified two instances during 2005 in which SMART kept vehicles in service with inoperable ramps for more than three days even though it had available accessible vehicles.

Corrective Actions Proposed by SMART: SMART’s policy is, and has always been, to remove from service any vehicle with an inoperable ramp.

Clarification of Corrective Action and Additional Reporting: While it is recognized that it is and has been the policy of SMART to remove from service any vehicle with an inoperable ramp, the review of maintenance and operations records identified two instances where vehicles with inoperable lifts were kept in service. Please identify in the April 2007 Quarterly Progress report the additional efforts that will be made to ensure that the current policy is implemented.

20. Finding: During seven “ride-alongs” by team members with riders who use wheelchairs, drivers deployed ramps and riders successfully boarded and traveled to their destinations. However, drivers did not always follow proper procedures for securements. In one case, the driver secured the passenger using the lap belt and shoulder harness, but did not secure the rider’s wheelchair. In a second case, the driver did not properly secure the rear straps to the rider’s wheelchair.

Corrective Actions Proposed by SMART: Driver training and retraining continues to include proper use of wheelchair securement systems and accommodation of service animals.
In 2007 SMART’s Local Advisory Council of older adults and persons with disabilities will evaluate and make recommendation regarding current policies related to assisting riders up and down ramps.

Clarification of Corrective Action: Please indicate in the April 2007 Quarterly Progress Report what additional training and retraining efforts have been made to ensure that bus operators properly secure riders who use wheelchairs.

We recognize the efforts that SMART has already taken to correct the few deficiencies identified in the draft report, and we anticipate your continued endeavors to take further corrective actions as noted in this letter. We appreciate the cooperation and assistance that you and your staff provided us during this review. If you have any questions about this matter, please contact me or Jonathan Klein, Equal Opportunity Specialist, at (202) 366-0809 or at his electronic mail address: jonathan.klein@dot.gov.

It would also be helpful to us if you would provide a copy of all correspondence to this office to the FTA Region V Civil Rights Officer at the following address:

Mr. Dwight Sinks
Civil Rights Officer, Region V
Federal Transit Administration 
200 West Adams Street
Suite 320
Chicago, IL 60606


Sincerely,

Michael A. Winter
Director, Office of Civil Rights

Enclosure

cc: Marisol Simon, FTA Region V Administrator
Dwight Sinks, FTA Region V Civil Rights Officer
Dominick J. Gatto, FTA Region V Director of Program Management & Oversight
Michael Patten, SMART ADA Coordinator

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