April 2, 2008
Re: FTA Complaint Number 07-0281
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against the Sun Cities Area Transit System (SCAT) 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 11, 2007, alleged that:
On August 17, 2007, (and as a general policy) SCAT would not permit you to remain in your three-wheeled scooter as you were being transported, but instead forced you to transfer to a seat and store the scooter in a separate area of the vehicle.
FTA investigated your allegation and sent an information request to SCAT. We received a response that provided relevant information on your allegation. Your allegation is addressed in detail below.
You describe a situation where you were forced by a SCAT driver to move from your three-wheeled scooter to a seat aboard their vehicle. You say that the driver would not transport you unless you transferred to a seat, and that the driver called his supervisor who said requiring you to transfer was the law. You also attached a newspaper article, quoting SCAT’s former operations manager, which reiterated the policy of SCAT to refuse transportation to people in three-wheeled scooters unless they transferred to a seat and stored their scooter in a separate area of the vehicle.
The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR § 37.165(e) state that a transit entity “may recommend to a user of a wheelchair that the individual transfer to a vehicle seat. The entity may not require the individual to transfer.” The definition of a wheelchair includes 3 wheeled scooters.
SCAT, in response to our inquiry, sent us a copy of a memorandum distributed on October 29, 2003, to all SCAT drivers and dispatchers which demonstrates that SCAT’s securement policy neither differentiates between different types of wheelchairs nor requires a rider to transfer to a seat. Since the actual SCAT policy seems to differ from what you experienced, we will request that SCAT redistribute their wheelchair securement policy with new verbiage which will clarify the definition of a wheelchair and that wheelchair passengers do not have to transfer to seats. We will place SCAT in follow-up status as to the issues identified.
As the investigation phase of this process has been completed, we are closing your complaint as of the date of this letter. 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
Cheryl Holgate, SCAT Executive Director
Leslie T. Rogers, FTA Region IX Administrator
Derrin Jourdan, FTA Region IX Civil Rights Officer