July 30, 2008
Re: FTA Complaint Number 07-0286
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against St. Louis Metro 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 September 6, 2007, alleged that:
Trips on Metro’s ADA complementary paratransit service, Call-a-Ride, exceed Call-a-Ride’s 90 minute trip-length limit.
FTA investigated your allegation and reviewed the data you submitted.
Metro operates the St. Louis metropolitan region's public transportation system including the Call-a-Ride paratransit service. Call-a-Ride has implemented a standard that trips last no longer than 90 minutes. You point out that between June 18 and September 5, 2007, 39 percent of your 21 trips from work to home exceeded 90 minutes.
The DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. §37.121(a) require each public entity operating a fixed route system to provide paratransit service to individuals with disabilities that is comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without disabilities who use the fixed route system. Section 37.131(f)(3) specifically forbids “any operational pattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons,” including “substantial numbers of trips with excessive trip length.”
The DOT ADA regulation in Appendix D to Part 37—Construction and Interpretation of Provisions of 49 CFR Part 37, at 131, states, “a ‘pattern or practice’ involves, regular, or repeated actions, not isolated, accidental, or singular incidents. A missed trip, late arrival, or trip denial now and then does not trigger this provision.” The regulation appendix adds:
Since paratransit is a shared ride service, paratransit rides between Point A and Point B will usually take longer, and involve more intermediate stops, than a taxi ride between the same two points. However, when the number of intermediate stops and the total trip time for a given passenger grows so large as to make use of the system prohibitively inconvenient, then this provision would be triggered. For example, the IG report referred to above mentioned a situation in which 9 percent of riders had one way trips averaging between two and four hours, with an average of 16 intermediate stops. Such a situation would probably trigger this provision.
Using the online Trip Planner provided by Metro to plan the route from the work address you provided to your home, so that you can leave your work at 4:45 p.m., FTA determined that your evening route would typically take 1 hour and 15 minutes using the comparable fixed-route bus or fixed-route bus and rail. This estimate assumes a 5 minute wait-time at your bus stop, and minimal walking at a pace of approximately 3 miles an hour. According to the data you provided, your evening trip exceeded this time on the following dates:
May 8, 2007 – 1 hour, 20 minutes (5 minutes longer)
May 16, 2007 – 1 hour, 20 minutes (5 minutes longer)
May 23, 3007 – 1 hour, 20 minutes (5 minutes longer)
June 7, 2007 – 1 hour, 25 minutes (10 minutes longer)
June 18, 2007 – 1 hour, 25 minutes (10 minutes longer)
June 19, 2007 – 1 hour, 40 minutes (25 minutes longer)
July 16, 2007 – 1 hour, 30 minutes (15 minutes longer)
July 24, 2007 – 1 hour, 25 minutes (10 minutes longer)
Aug. 20, 2007 – 1 hour, 30 minutes (15 minutes longer)
Aug. 28, 2007 – 1 hour, 50 minutes (35 minutes longer)
Sept. 5, 2007 – 1 hour, 40 minutes (25 minutes longer)
Sept. 10, 2007 – 1 hour, 35 minutes (20 minutes longer)
Oct. 4, 2007 – 1 hour, 25 minutes (10 minutes longer)
Oct. 9, 2007 – 1 hour, 20 minutes (5 minutes longer)
Oct. 16, 2007 – 1 hour, 30 minutes (15 minutes longer)
Nov. 26, 2007 – 1 hour, 35 minutes (20 minutes longer)
Nov. 28, 2007 – 1 hour, 45 minutes (30 minutes longer)
Dec. 11, 2007 – 1 hour, 30 minutes (15 minutes longer)
Jan. 3, 2008 – 1 hour, 20 minutes (5 minutes longer)
Jan. 8, 2008 – 1 hour, 30 minutes (15 minutes longer)
Jan. 14, 2008 – 1 hour, 20 minutes (5 minutes longer)
Feb. 5, 2008 – 1 hour, 45 minutes (30 minutes longer)
Apr. 17, 2008 – 1 hour, 25 minutes (10 minutes longer)
May 29, 2008 – 1 hour, 35 minutes (20 minutes longer)
July 14, 2008 – 1 hour, 20 minutes (5 minutes longer)
Using the online Trip Planner to plan the route from your home at to your work, so you can arrive at work at 7:45 a.m., FTA determined that your morning route would typically take 1 hour and 8 minutes using the comparable fixed-route bus. According to the data you provided, none of your morning trips exceeded this time.
Our investigation of this fourteen-month period found that twenty-five out of 132 work-to-home trips were longer than a comparable trip on the fixed-route bus. Seven of those were longer by only 15 or fewer minutes. None of 161 home-to-work trips were longer than a comparable trip on the fixed-route bus. Eight trips, or 6 percent, were more than 15 minutes longer than the comparable fixed route, with the longest on August 28, lasting 1 hour and 50 minutes. These trips account for less than 3 percent of the total trips to and from work taken in this period. In light of this analysis, we cannot find that Call-a-Ride has subjected you to a substantial number of trips with excessive trip length.
This concludes our processing of this matter and no further investigation will occur. 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 Sue Clark, at (202) 493-0511 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights
Mokhtee Ahmad, FTA Region VII Administrator
Thomas Harris, FTA Region VII Civil Rights Officer