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7 The ADA and Transportation Advocacy

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Brian EastDisability Rights Texas2222 W. BrakerLaneAustin, Texas [email protected]
Scope—ADA Covers Discrimination In:
Employment (Title I)Public (i.e., governmental) entities (Title II, Division A)Public accommodations (private businesses) (Title III )Telecommunications (Title IV)Transportation(Title II Div. B, and parts of Title III)
Some Kinds of Transportation the ADA Addresses
SidewalksTaxisRide-ShareCity BusesOver-The-Road BusesTrains
Air Travel?
The ADA only plays a limited role—basically it covers the parts of an airport (and the airport’s public transportation system) that are run by the governmentThe planes themselves, and private terminals, are covered by different laws, most notablythe Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA)ACAA remedies very limited
Title II coverssidewalksSidewalks built or altered after 1/27/92 must have curb ramps and followspecsFor streets resurfaced or otherwise “altered” after 1//27/92, adjacent sidewalks must have curb ramps that follow technicalspecsThere is a “programaccess”standard for older streets & sidewalks, butit is morecase-by-caseStatute of limitationsis 2 years, & beginswhen the person encounters badsidewalkWhat if there are no sidewalks?
Unless company offers “equivalent service,” vehicles must be accessible if boughtorleased:after8/25/90, and cancarry8ormore (incl. driver)after2/25/92, andis a vanthat can carry <8Accessibility specs are in 49C.F.R.Part 38 (and include, e.g., lifts, etc.)Sedans do not have to be accessible“Equivalent service”looks at both integrated setting and equality of response time, fares, service area, hours, reservations, information access, service availability, and any limits on trip purpose
Ride-Share or “Transportation Network Companies”
Cases and DOJ say ride-share companies are covered by the transportation provisions (and perhaps others) in Title IIICases so far include claims involving:Accepting service animalsAccessibility of appsOffering assistance to blind ridersAccepting wheelchairs & other mobility aids
Private Courtesy Shuttles
Re private company notprimarilyengaged in transportation, e.g., airline, hotel,orrental-car courtesy shuttle serviceAccessible vehicle if:Fixed-route and capacity > 16Fixed-route and capacity 16or fewer, unlesssystem as a whole offers equivalent service per § 37.105Demand-responsive and > 16,unlesssystem as a whole offers equivalent service per §37.105Demand-responsive and 16 or fewer, system as a wholemust offerequivalent service per §37.105See above re “equivalent service”
Recap of Accessible-Vehicle Requirements
An accessible vehicle means a vehicle that complies with 49 C.F.R. § 37.7 and Part 38Whether new vehicles must be accessible depends on whether service provider is:A private or a public entityPrimarily engaged in the business of transportation or notOperating a demand-response or a fixed-route system
City Buses
Fixed-route (“mainline”)vs.paratransitIf bus system is public entity, or a private company contracting with a public entity, vehicles purchasedorleasedafter8/25/90 must be accessible (mainline & paratransit)Stop announcements (live orrecorded), per 49C.F.R. § 37.167DOT regs (incl. accessibility and service standards)are at49 C.F.R.Parts 37and38What if no bus system at all?
City Buses—Fixed-Route
Can’t deny services, evenifit:takesthe individual longer orismoredifficultsupposedly offends, inconveniences, or annoys employees or othersCan’t force person into “priority” seatsCan’t charge moreCan’t require an attendantCan’tuse lack of insuranceto deny serviceCan’t usenon-employeesto assist (unless person with disability requests)
Maintenance of Accessibility Features
Prompt repairs of accessibility featuresreq’dMust offer accommodations if problemsIsolated or temporary interruptions for repairs/maintenance usually ≠discriminationPattern of interruptions or overly long interruptions could = discriminationIf lift or ramp is inoperative, vehicle generally goes out of service and another bus sent, or entity provides prompt alternative service
City Buses—Paratransit
Ifentityoperatesfixed-route (mainline) system,it must operatea complementaryparatransitsystem.49C.F.R. §37.121(a)Paratransitis for people who can’t use fixed-routebus or railserviceService mustbe provided within¾-mileofbusroute or railstationMustoperatesamehours anddaysFare can’t be > double that of fixed-routeReservationservicemust be open same hours that administrativeoffices areopen
Paratransit Issues
Eligibility and appealsCompanions—one may ride; others if spaceAttendants—entity can’t force; rides free; does not count as companion; need not pre-registerReservations—one-day noticeenough; must give slot w/in 1 hour of requested slotOn-timeperformance—pickup window shouldn’t be >30mins; avoidvery early and latepickups; may have max wait time but doesn’t beginuntilstartofpickup “window”; drop-off not > 30 mins early; trip not too long (compared to mainline)
Paratransit Issues (cont’d)
Origin-to-destination service—door-to-door or curb-to curb, but entity’s choice can be modifiedProcedures for suspending servicetorider—for pattern of missed trips (w/in rider’s control), orviolent orillegal conduct; right to a hearingPublic input into paratransit plan and policy changes
Reasonable Accommodations
Does the ADA require transit providers to consider policy modifications that a rider needs?Courts originally said no—Meltonv. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 391 F.3d 669 (5th Cir. 2004)DOT changed regs in 2015 to require.49 C.F.R.§§ 37.5(i)(3) and 37.169(c)(1)-(3), and App. E.Examples: bus driver helping with fare collection or pulling slightly past obstructedbusstop; paratransit driver changing pickup locations, or assisting inextremeweatherApplies topolicies/practices,not the regs; e.g., can’t expand ¾-mileparatransitarea
Defenses to Accommodations
Fundamental alteration ofservice (e.g., requests for specific vehicle, exclusive rides, help carrying packages, operatingoutside of servicehours)Direct threat to the health or safety ofothers (exposing vehicletohazards, leaving vehicleunattended fora long time)Not needed by the requester to use the service(even without modification,rider is fully able to use services,e.g., requestinga specificdriver)Undue financial/administrativeburden (dependsondetails, burdenof proof onentity, e.g., askingnot ride withparticular passenger)
No Transportation Services At All?
Publictransportation grants (e.g., FTA’s Sec. 5307 UrbanizedArea FormulaGrants or Sec. 5311 FormulaGrants for RuralAreas)?Voucher Programs?Other?
Intercity Buses (OTRB)
OTRB fixed-route vehiclesmust be accessible(incl. lift, tie-downs, etc.)Small companies (<$9.6 million) must have accessible vehicles or equivalent serviceAccess to intermediate stops & rest stopsGreyhound settlement—maintaining accessibility features, providing boarding help, allowing exiting atrest stops;online reservations for people using wheelchairs
Light Rail & Trains
Transit facilities, intermodal centers, railstations,and platforms must meet accessibilitystandardsLevel boarding:traindoorways and station platforms must beonsame level, and gapsnarrowenough forwheelchairuser to rollacross (or use shortbridgeplate)AMTRAK station problems—DOJ Letter of Finding in 2015
State Laws?
Hum. Res.Code §121.002(5)defines“public facility” to include streets, sidewalks, and any publicconveyance or mode oftransportation§ 121.003(a)—samerightto fulluse andenjoyment§ 121.003(b)—no publicconveyance or mode oftransportation mayrefuse to acceptpassenger becauseofdisability,and can’t charge more becauseofserviceanimal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device used to assistin travel§121.003(c)—can’t be denied admittancetopublicfacilitybecauseofdisability or because of use of cane, assistance animal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device ofassistance§121.003(d)—discrimination includes failure to (1) comply with TAS, (2) make reasonable policy modifications, or (3) provide necessary auxiliaryaids andservices
Remedies—Sidewalks, Taxis, Ride-Share, Amtrak
Administrative complaintsFile with DOJ within 180 daysCan be filed online, or via mail or faxInfo about the Department of Justice’s complaint process: within 2 years of encountering barrierRemedies include court order, attorney fees, costs, and (in some cases) damages
Remedies—City Buses, Light Rail
Administrative ComplaintsFile within 180 days with FTA via mailInfo about the Federal Transit Administration’s complaint process is online at:
Administrative ComplaintsOnline complaintsthroughNationalConsumer Complaint Database, complaints: 888/368-7238 (weekdays 9–7 EST)Lawsuits
Remedies—Air Travel
Administrative ComplaintsMost carriers must have Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) available at all times airline is operating at any airport (phone or in-person)DOT toll-free number: 800/778-4838 (voice) or 800/455-9880 (TTY)DOT complaint process (limited remedies):—may not be available
State Law Remedies
No administrative enforcement mechanismCan bring private lawsuit for money damages, which areno less than$300.Can also probably get injunctive relief (i.e., an order from the court to fix the problem), but there is little case lawIt is unclear whether you can sue a governmental entity under Hum. Res.Code Chapter121Cannot recover attorney’s fees
Sample Resources
DRTX handout re paratransit eligibility: Q&A re Wheelchairs and Bus and Rail Service: Air Travelers with DevelopmentalDisabilities—’s Accessibility ChecklistforTransportationandMobility:
Brian EastDisability Rights Texas2222 WestBrakerLaneAustin, Texas 78758512/[email protected]





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7 The ADA and Transportation Advocacy