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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 Para transit services.

For  individuals  with  disabilities  who  are  unable  to  ride fixed  routes,  the  ADA  requires  that  paratransit  services be  provided  at  a  level  of  service  comparable  to  the  fixed route  system.

Not  all  people  with  disabilities  are  eligible for  ADA  complementary  paratransit  services.  Only  those who  are  unable  to  access  their  fixed  route  system  are eligible. It  is  important  to  understand  that  under  the  ADA, paratransit  functions  as  a  “safety  net”  for  people  whose disabilities  prevent  them  from  using  the  regular  fixed route  system.  It  is  not  intended  to  be  a  comprehensive system  of  transportation  that  meets  all  the  needs  of persons  with  disabilities.  By  statute,  complementary paratransit  must  provide  a  level  of  service  that  is comparable  to  that  provided  by  the  fixed  route  system.  Paratransit  must  be  comparable  in  that  it must  be  offered  on  the  same  days  and  same  times  fixed route  service  is  offered.  If  a  fixed  route  does  not  offer  evening  and  Sunday  service,  your  paratransit  provider does  not  have  to  offer  evening  or  Sunday  service. Comparable  also  means  that  paratransit  serves  a geographical  region  similar  to  the  geographical  region served  by  fixed  route.  Essentially, complementary paratransit serves a core area of 0.75 mile-wide corridors on each side of a fixed route. Outside the core area, 1.5 mile-wide corridors are permitted. If a paratransit-eligible individual lives in an isolated area, he or she is responsible for reaching the nearest paratransit service pickup point.

Under  the  ADA,  you  cannot  be  denied  a  ride  because the  paratransit  provider’s  capacity  has  been  exceeded.    Transit agencies cannot limit the number of trips a person schedules during a given time period, and cannot place restrictions or set priorities on a trip’s purpose. To reserve a trip, the only information needed is…

  • the origin;
  • the destination;
  • the time of travel; and
  • how many people will be traveling.

Providers can negotiate pick up times, but trips must begin no later than one hour before or after the person’s desired departure time at either end of the trip. Operators must provide service within this window  even when the individual making the reservation agrees to another time period.

If a paratransit service is denied as a result of inclement weather or some other force outside the transit agency’s control, it is not a violation of the ADA. If the denial is the result of a transit agency decision, for example, a lack of vehicles, it is a violation of the ADA.

In these  situations,  providers  will  often  contract  with  other services  to  handle  the  overflow,  including  taxi  services.  These  contracting  services  are  held  to  the  same  nondiscrimination  requirements  of  the  ADA.    If  a  taxi  is  provided  for  a paratransit  ride  in  lieu  of  regular  paratransit  vehicle,  the rider  is  still  only  charged  the  normal  paratransit  fare.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require that transportation service, including private taxi service be provided in every community where people live. However, if private taxi service is provided, it must comply with some limited ADA requirements for accessibility for people with disabilities. The ADA covers some types of taxi vehicles and all private taxi service. Under the ADA, taxi service requirements also cover transportation services that involve calling for a car and a driver to take one places (e.g. limousine services).

Service requirements that apply to all private taxi companies:

  • Cannot refuse to serve a person with a disability who can use taxi vehicles;
  • Cannot charge higher fares or fees for carrying individuals with disabilities and their equipment than are charged to other persons;
  • Must provide assistance with the stowing of mobility devices (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.); and
  • Must allow service animals to ride with passengers with disabilities.

Questions and complaints about public transportation should be directed either to:

Office of Civil Rights
Federal Transit Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, Room E54-427
Room 9102
Washington, D.C. 20590


U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Disability Rights Section – NYAV
Washington, DC 20530

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