Guidance

You are here

Shared Mobility FAQs: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

In response to increasing interest from the transit industry in partnering with on-demand, shared mobility services such as ride-hailing companies, the FTA has identified FAQs aboutcompliance with federal requirements, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


If a shared mobility project doesn’t use federal funding, does it still have to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements?

Yes. The ADA applies regardless of whether there is federal funding involved. The applicable requirements may depend upon the nature of the project and the service that will result, such as fixed route, general public demand responsive, or ADA paratransit. A transit operator entering an arrangement with a ridesourcing entity to provide fixed-route service using only local funds would be required to ensure that any vehicle used on the system is accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users, and ensure that paratransit is provided as a complement to such routes.

Back to top

Aren’t private companies like ride-sourcing entities exempt from U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) ADA requirements?

No. The DOT ADA regulations cover transportation provided by both public and private entities, whether or not they are primarily engaged in the provision of transportation service.

For example, if a hotel wants to provide shuttle service to its guests along a fixed route serving local attractions, because hotels are not primarily engaged in transportation, the vehicles used may not need to be accessible as long as equivalent service is provided for persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users.

Back to top

If a shared mobility project only involves non-ADA transportation; does it still have to comply with the service criteria?

If the term "non-ADA transportation" is being used to refer to transportation services that are not ADA complementary paratransit, such services would be covered by the requirements for fixed-route or demand-responsive service for the general public, not by the ADA complementary paratransit service criteria.

It should be noted that the term "non-ADA transportation" is a misnomer; all modes of transportation, other than by aircraft, are covered by DOT ADA regulations.

Back to top

If a transit system partners with a ride-sourcing entity to provide first-mile/last-mile service, what ADA regulations apply?

Such service would most likely be regarded as demand-responsive service to the general public. The service, though not necessarily the ridesourcing vehicles themselves, would have to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs. For the service to be considered accessible, some vehicles, whether provided by the ridesourcing entity, the transit agency, or another contractor, must be accessible to passengers who use wheelchairs, such that the service to passengers with disabilities is equivalent to that provided to passengers without disabilities.

A transit system partnering with a ridesourcing entity to provide service to and from a commuter rail station, for example, could dispatch accessible vehicles from its own paratransit fleet via the ridesourcing entity’s smartphone app to accommodate wheelchair users.

Back to top

What are the requirements for demand-responsive service?

The level of service provided to people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, must be equivalent to that provided to people without disabilities. The service characteristics for determining whether the service is equivalent are:

  • Response time
  • Fares
  • Geographic area of service
  • Hours and days of service
  • Restrictions or priorities based on trip purpose
  • Availability of information and reservations capability
  • Any constraints on capacity or service availability

A transit system partnering with a ridesourcing entity to provide demand-responsive service to a new service area would have to ensure not only that accessible vehicles were available, but that any person requiring an accessible vehicle would not be charged more than a typical ridesource user for a similar trip and would not have to wait longer for service.

Back to top

Who would be responsible for providing equivalent service, the transit system or the ridesourcing entity?

In general, the public entity that enters into the partnership with the ridesourcing entity would be responsible for ensuring that equivalent service is provided. In an instance where the fare structure for the provider of accessible vehicles differs from (is greater than) that used by the ridesourcing entity, the transit operator must offset those costs to ensure that they are not borne by the passenger.

Back to top

If a transit operator contracts out its shared mobility service to a ride-sourcing entity; would that make it subject to the requirements for public or private transportation?

The requirements for public entities would apply.

The public entity remains responsible for ensuring that the service provided is in compliance with DOT ADA regulations. This can be accomplished by ensuring that the private entity has sufficient accessible vehicles in its own fleet to provide equivalent service; by contracting with a separate entity to provide equivalent service, or by employing accessible vehicles from its own fleet.

Back to top

If a transit system offers real-time service to its paratransit passengers using ride-sourcing, can it provide real-time service to eligible passengers? Wheelchair users would still have access to next-day paratransit service.

If real-time service is provided to eligible ADA paratransit passengers, it must be provided to all eligible ADA paratransit riders, including wheelchair users. This can be accomplished by ensuring that the ridesourcing entity has sufficient accessible vehicles available to provide equivalent service; by contracting with a separate entity to provide accessible vehicles; or most easily by simply incorporating your own accessible paratransit vehicles into the service to be provided by the ridesourcing entity.

Back to top

Can a transit system use ride-sourcing to provide a portion of its ADA paratransit service?

Yes. It’s important to remember, though, that all ADA paratransit service criteria apply:

  • Origin-to-destination service
  • Service area (at least ¾-mile on either side of a fixed route)
  • Response time (next-day, with advance reservation and real-time scheduling permitted)
  • Fares (not more than twice the regular fixed-route fare for a comparable trip)
  • No restrictions on trip purpose
  • Hours and days of service (at least the same as fixed route)
  • No capacity constraints

Back to top

If a ride-sourcing entity plans to acquire a fleet of vans to provide fixed-route service under contract to a local transit system, do those vehicles have to be accessible?

For fixed route service, vehicles must be accessible.

A private entity that purchases or leases new, used, or remanufactured vehicles for use, or in contemplation of use, in fixed route or demand responsive service under contract or other arrangement or relationship with a public entity must acquire accessible vehicles in all situations in which the public entity itself would be required to do so (49 CFR 37.23(b)).

If a transit agency contracts with a ridesourcing entity to provide demand-responsive service, and the ridesourcing entity acquires a fleet of vans to provide that service, the vans must be accessible to wheelchair users unless the system, when viewed in its entirety, meets the standard for equivalent service

Back to top

A major automaker wants to implement a small fixed-route transportation system in a local community using vans it provides for this purpose. The vehicles will have no established stops, but will be “hailed” by riders through a smartphone app; do any of these vans have to be accessible?

It depends upon the size of the vans.

  • For vehicles with a capacity of more than 16, including the driver, the vehicles must be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair users (49 CFR 37.101(b))
  • For vehicles with a capacity of 16 or fewer, including the driver, the vehicles must be accessible unless the fixed route system, when viewed in its entirety, provides equivalent service to persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users (49 CFR 37.101(c))

The interaction between the passenger and the service via the app does not make an otherwise fixed route service demand responsive.

Back to top

A county wants to use ride-sourcing as part of its Guaranteed Ride Home program, but none of the ride-sourcing entities have accessible vehicles available. The county wants to contract with a taxi company that has accessible vans in order to meet the equivalent service requirement; however, the taxi company wants to charge riders using their vans twice as much as the ride-sourcing entity charges. Can the county pass this difference along to those passengers?

No. Riders requiring accessible vehicles cannot be charged a higher fare. The cost of providing accessible vehicles must be borne by the county’s guaranteed ride home program.

Back to top

Updated: Monday, December 12, 2016
Submit Feedback >