As a person with a disability, you are entitled to the same public transit opportunities that everyone else enjoys. The transportation provision of ADA Title II covers public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit. Public transportation authorities may not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their services. Today’s post will be specific to fixed route systems. Para transit services will be outlined in next week’s Freedom Friday post.
The ADA has a variety of requirements designed to increase the accessibility of fixed route systems. Fixed route services include, but are not limited to, bus systems, light rail, and rapid rail (subway systems) on which a vehicle is operated along a prescribed route according to a fixed schedule.
Public transit systems must make information regarding these services and schedules available to people with all types of disabilities. Therefore, you are entitled to have written schedules and service information available in an accessible format which you are able to use. Accessible formats might consist of Braille, large print, audio recordings, electronic formats, or websites accessible to screen readers or other assistive technology.
Under the ADA, all buses purchased after August 25, 1990 must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals with wheelchairs. That means that these buses must be fitted with lifts or ramps, in addition to other accessibility features. Passengers with disabilities must be allowed adequate time to board and disembark from a transit vehicle. If you have a mobility disability or have difficulty maintaining your balance while a bus is moving, ask your bus driver to wait until you are seated before driving away. Drivers are required to honor your request. The ADA states that when an accessibility feature such as a lift is out of order, the transit entity must take reasonable steps to accommodate individuals with disabilities who would otherwise use the feature. Newly constructed transit facilities must also be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs.
For the purposes of the ADA regulations for transportation, a “wheelchair” is defined as being a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or four-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed for and used by individuals with a mobility disability, whether operated manually or powered. A “common wheelchair” is such a device which does not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length measured two inches above the ground, and does not weigh more than 600 pounds when occupied. Any mobility aid that does not fit this definition does not have to be transported; however, transit agencies may decide to transport larger or heavy devices if they have suitable equipment. Transit providers are not required to provide passengers with personal devices such as wheelchairs or scooters.
Transit providers cannot require that a person with a disability travel with a personal attendant. When a rider chooses to travel with a personal attendant, the ADA does not require free fares for those attendants on fixed routes, although some fixed route services do offer that benefit.
You must be permitted to bring a respirator or portable oxygen supply on board transit vehicles if you need it. The Department of Transportation rules on the transportation of hazardous materials allow for the use of respirators and portable oxygen supplies and a public transit provider cannot prohibit these devices.
A public transit service that receives federal financial assistance and employs 15 or more persons is required to establish procedures for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints related to discriminatory action. Your first course of action to resolve any ADA complaint should always be to pursue your transit agency’s complaint procedure to allow them an opportunity to resolve the matter.
Questions and complaints about public transportation should be directed to:
Office of Civil Rights
Federal Transit Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, Room E54-427
Washington, D.C. 20590