June 24, 2010
Re: FTA Complaint Number 09-0159
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint against Valley Metro RPTA in Phoenix, Arizona. 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 are in compliance with 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.
FTA investigated your allegations and sent an information request to Valley Metro. We received a response from Valley Metro that addressed your allegations and provided FTA with the relevant information. Your allegations are addressed in detail below.
Specifically, your complaint alleges the following:
- On December 29, 2008 and January 12, 2009, Valley Metro Bus #6411 failed to provide proper stop announcements;
- On January 12, 2009 Valley Metro Bus #6413 and #6174 failed to provide proper stop announcements;
- These service interruptions were reported to Valley Metro under complaint numbers 87529, 87528, and 87527;
- Additionally, you filed at least seven similar complaints regarding failure to provide stop announcements on buses servicing your major route (45 Broadway).
Relevant ADA Requirements
The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR §37.167(b) state that operators of fixed-route transit systems are required to make stop announcements at transfer points, major intersections and destination points, and intervals along the route sufficient to permit individuals with visual impairments or other disabilities to be oriented to their location. Operators must also announce any specific stop requested by a passenger with a disability.
Furthermore, under 49 CFR §37.173 each public or private entity which operates a fixed route or demand responsive system shall ensure that personnel are trained to proficiency, as appropriate to their duties, so that they operate vehicles and equipment safely and properly assist and treat individuals with disabilities who use the service in a respectful and courteous way, with appropriate attention to the difference among individuals with disabilities.
Valley Metro Response
In response to our information request, Valley Metro submitted details to FTA on the investigation it conducted and provided documentation on the action plan it is implementing to address your concerns. Valley Metro produced detailed information regarding the issues you raised through its own internal investigation.
The operators on the routes you identified as failing to announce stops were interviewed and admitted not performing any call outs or provided a health reason for any performance deficiencies. They were all subsequently counseled on announcing stops when the on-board voice annunciator was not working and were also updated on the relevant ADA requirements.
Valley Metro determined that 90% of the vehicles used in its fixed-route service were equipped with automated stop annunciators, and the average repair time for a broken one was 24 hours. Additionally, Valley Metro conducted “on board” surveillance on a random basis and came back with a very low deficiency rate across 27 various local and express routes.
Valley Metro also has put in place an Action Plan that it transmitted to FTA. The plan consists of: (1) in-person refresher training for operators, (2) written updates for the refresher training, and (3) an inventory of on-board public announcement systems, identification of malfunctioning units, and preparation of a timeline for repair/replacement of any deficient on-board units.
We appreciate your recognition that Valley Metro is required to provide stop announcements, and that responsibility falls to the bus operator when accessible features are not present or are malfunctioning. We have entered the complaint details into our internal tracking system for administrative purposes; however, this concludes out processing of this matter and no further action will be taken. The record shows that Valley Metro was responsive to your complaint and has taken steps to help ensure you will be treated appropriately and provided stop announcements; we therefore consider this matter resolved. We encourage you to report any problems in the future, so that Valley Metro will be aware of any additional corrective action that may be required. 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 me or Aaron Meyers at (202) 366-3055 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any future correspondence should reference FTA Complaint No. 09-0159. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
John R. Day
Acting ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights