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
Washington, D.C. 20590
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Disability Rights Section – NYAV
Washington, DC 20530