ADA_Essentials by qingyunliuliu


									  ADA Essentials for
Transit Board Members
Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act
            and Transit Public Policy
    Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,
     Public Law 336 of the 101st Congress
                      July 26, 1990

It is the purpose of this Act:
1. to provide a clear and comprehensive national
   mandate for the elimination of discrimination
   against individuals with disabilities;
2. to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable
   standards addressing discrimination against
   individuals with disabilities;
3. to ensure that the Federal Government plays a
   central role in enforcing the standards established in
   this Act on behalf of individuals with disabilities; and
4. to invoke the sweep of congressional authority,
   including the power to enforce the fourteenth
   amendment and to regulate commerce in order to
   address the major areas of discrimination faced
   day-to-day by people with disabilities.
                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy


T    he ADA Essentials for Transit
     Board Members was developed
by Easter Seals Project ACTION
                                                n   J. Barry Barker, executive director,
                                                    Transit Authority of River City,
                                                    Louisville, Ky.
(ESPA) and the American Public
                                                n   M.P. Carter, commissioner,
Transportation Association (APTA).
                                                    Memphis Area Transit Authority,
The project team included the following
                                                    Memphis, Tenn.
individuals: Donna P. McNamee,
chair of the ESPA National Steering             n   Doug Douglas, vice-president,
Committee and the APTA Transit                      paratransit services, Dallas Area
Board Members ADA Subcommittee;                     Rapid Transit, Dallas, Texas
Mary A. Leary, senior director, Easter          n   Tammy Haenftling, assistant
Seals Project ACTION, the National                  vice-president, paratransit services,
Center on Senior Transportation                     Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas,
and Other Transportation Initiatives;               Texas and chair, APTA Access
Lynne Morsen, APTA senior program                   Committee
manager; C. Marie Maus, ESPA director
of marketing & communications; and              n   James LaRusch, chief counsel,
Rachel Beyerle, ESPA resources &                    American Public Transportation
publications manager.                               Association, Washington, D.C.
    The following reviewers provided
their expertise and comment during
development of the guide:

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

n   Crystal Lyons, board chairman,               Photo credits:
    Corpus Christi Regional                      Laketran, Lake County, Ohio
    Transportation Authority, Corpus             Richard Lesser
    Christi, Texas                               Sound Transit, Seattle, Wash.
n   Terry Parker, accessible services            TriMet Portland, Ore.
    manager, Lane Transit District,              United We Ride
    Eugene, Ore.
                                                 Easter Seals Project ACTION is funded
n   John Bell, program manager—
                                                 through a cooperative agreement with
    communications, American Public
                                                 the U.S. Department of Transportation,
    Transportation Association,
                                                 Federal Transit Administration, and is
    Washington, D.C.
                                                 administered by Easter Seals, Inc.
n   Rose Sheridan, vice-president—
    communications and marketing,                This document is disseminated under
    American Public Transportation               sponsorship of Easter Seals Project
    Association, Washington, D.C.                ACTION and the American Public
                                                 Transportation Association in the interest
American Public Transportation                   of information exchange. The ADA
Association                                      aims to ensure non-discrimination for
1666 K Street NW, Suite 1100                     individuals with disabilities, and the
Washington, D.C. 20006                           application of ADA law is complex.                                     Readers are invited to use this handbook
                                                 as a summary of the main points of
Easter Seals Project ACTION                      legislation and regulations, rather
1425 K Street NW, Suite 200                      than as an interpretation of the law.
Washington, D.C. 20005                           Neither Easter Seals Project ACTION,                            the American Public Transportation
                                                 Association, the U.S. Department of
October 2010                                     Transportation, nor the Federal Transit
                                                 Administration assumes liability for its
                                                 content or use of this material.

                         ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Foreword ................................................................................................... 1

Introduction ............................................................................................... 5

History: Movements Toward the ADA ...................................................... 7

Why the Americans with Disabilities Act was Established ........................... 9

The ADA Law ........................................................................................ 11

Federal Agency Responsibilities ............................................................... 21

ADA Regulations and ADAAG Guidelines Affecting Operations,
Customer Service, Vehicles & Facilities ................................................... 27

Beyond the ADA .................................................................................... 41

ADA: Changing the Face of the Nation .................................................. 47

References .............................................................................................. 49

Appendix A: Glossary of Terms ............................................................... 53

Appendix B: Frequently Asked Questions about ADA Compliance ......... 55

Appendix C: ADA Technical Assistance Centers ...................................... 65

Appendix D: Additional Resources .......................................................... 67

             ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy


                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Why an ADA Handbook?                            transit in general and paratransit in
                                                specific. But none focused on the ADA
N     early ten years ago, I was
      appointed to serve on the transit
board in my home community,
                                                for the non-practitioners. By reading
                                                and asking a lot of people a multitude
                                                of questions, bit by bit I began to
where I depend upon our local                   understand it all. At the back of my
public transit system for everything,           mind I often thought, “There must be a
from my writing and editing work to             better way…”
medical appointments to shopping                    Two years later, on an elevator at an
and recreation. I knew the ADA (or              APTA Transit Board Members Seminar,
so I thought). After my first board             current APTA Chair M.P. Carter, who
meeting, however, I realized I had some         at the time was the incoming APTA
homework to do.                                 Transit Board Members Committee
     While I understood the ADA                 Chair, entered my life. Little did I
from a user’s perspective and what              know that that night’s elevator ride
it fundamentally covered, as a newly            would change my world and, perhaps,
appointed transit board member I had            that of all transit board members who
no clue how the marriage between a              desired ADA information that was
user’s point of view and a public transit       understandable and geared toward
system’s responsibilities under the ADA         their policymaking role. M.P. Carter
meshed. My research revealed a wealth           envisioned an ADA subcommittee
of information on accessibility of public       to help board members gain an

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

understanding of matters, “…related               Act—truly an American civil rights
to those aspects of the ADA that are              law—was rooted. The ADA held as
new, different or on the cutting edge.”           its primary goal the end of civil rights
Later that year, M.P. created the ADA             discrimination against people with
subcommittee and appointed me as                  disabilities.
its first chair. Both APTA and the                     After 25 years as a disability-rights
small group of transit board members              advocate and nearly ten years as a
who came together to form this                    transit board member, I have witnessed
subcommittee were committed to our                many changes in both the public
mission.                                          transportation industry and the world
     Since the ADA subcommittee’s                 at large. Now, we all have the option to
inception, we have met regularly and              be customers of a public transportation
produced several ADA and public                   system that is one of the most essential
transit accessibility-related professional        guarantors of the basic rights we share
development workshops and webinars                with all Americans—freedom to pursue
for transit board members. We                     our lives as we wish. I hope that through
recognized, however, that board                   this handbook, you as a transit board
members needed a better starting point            member will both learn and be inspired
from which to learn about the ADA. We             to help ensure that all Americans have
set out to write a white paper titled What        access to public transportation with
Transit Board Members Need to Know                which to pursue their lives. As we have
About the ADA. As we accumulated                  stated in these pages, transit board
research and ideas, it became clear that          members have a unique opportunity to
in addition to providing a resource               help ensure that the ADA is not only
guide on the letter of the law, it was also       followed in principle and letter but
necessary to provide a window into the            also in spirit. We have an opportunity
spirit of the law.                                to help create more accessible, livable
     Thus this handbook, which evolved            communities for us all. It is to you that
from a brief white paper to a 68-page             we dedicate this work.
book, includes more than a simple                      This handbook has been a labor
listing of the key public transportation          of love born through long hours
tenets of the ADA. ADA Essentials for             of researching content and writing,
Transit Board Members also provides               editing, and reviewing its pages. I
a historical context within which                 would like to offer my sincere thanks
the disability civil rights movement              to the many people who have worked
and the Americans with Disabilities               so diligently and collaboratively in

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

the development of this project: The           support of my work with APTA made
American Public Transportation                 it all possible. It has been an honor
Association (APTA), and in particular          and a privilege not only to chair this
my mentor and friend, M.P. Carter, for         subcommittee for APTA and to drive
their vision and outstanding support           the development of this handbook, but
of the ADA subcommittee and the                also to work with so many outstanding
publication of this handbook. Lynne            people who have dedicated themselves
Morsen, APTA’s senior program                  to furthering accessible public
Manager and advisor to the Transit             transportation throughout the public
Board Members ADA subcommittee,                transit industry. It has been a journey I
for her excellent guidance and patient         will forever cherish and be grateful to
oversight. Mary Leary, who as senior           have experienced with all of you.
director of Easter Seals Project
ACTION, recognized the broader long-           Donna P. McNamee, chair, APTA
term significance of the white paper           Transit Board Members ADA
and eagerly adopted it for publication.        Subcommittee
Easter Seals Project ACTION staff              Donna P. McNamee is the chair of
members: C. Marie Maus, director of            APTA’s Transit Board Members ADA
marketing & communications, and                Subcommittee; the chair of the ESPA
Rachel Beyerle, resource & publications        National Steering Committee, a member
manager, for their outstanding work            and past president of the LAKETRAN
in turning the concept into reality            Board of Trustees; a member of the Ohio
through their talented writing,                Department of Transportation’s 21st
editing, and creative skills. ADA              Century Transportation Priorities Task
subcommittee members, present and              Force; a board member of the Ohio-based
past, and Project ACTION’s National            TransportationMATTERS; a transit-
Steering Committee members, whose              dependent freelance writer and editor; and
outstanding work and feedback were             a national disability rights advocate who has
invaluable. LAKETRAN general                   worked for 25 years in support of civil rights
manager Ray Jurkowski, whose                   for people with disabilities.
encouragement and exceptional

             ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy


                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy


T    he Americans with Disabilities
     Act of 1990 [Public Law 101-
336], recognized as one of the most
                                                 ment and by enabling people with dis-
                                                 abilities to independently travel, work,
                                                 learn, and enjoy leisure time in their
significant federal civil rights laws            communities. In addition, the ADA has
enacted in the 20th century, set the             increased public awareness of how acces-
foundation for guaranteeing equal                sibility to employment, transportation,
opportunity for people with disabilities         public accommodations, and communi-
in employment; public transportation;            cation systems is important to everyone,
public accommodations, such as                   not just those with disabilities.
stores, shopping malls, restaurants,                 Easter Seals Project ACTION and
and hotels; government services; and             the American Public Transportation
telecommunications. Under the ADA,               Association have developed this
all programs, activities, and services           handbook, ADA Essentials for Transit
provided by state and local government,          Board Members, as a resource guide
including public transportation, are             on the history of the Americans with
prohibited from discriminating on the            Disabilities Act, the basic requirements
basis of disability, regardless of whether       of the ADA law as it pertains to public
the entities receive federal financial           transit operations, and how the ADA
assistance.                                      is implemented locally by public
     Since its enactment, the ADA has            transportation systems.
opened doors to people with disabilities             Transit board members have an
by changing the nation’s built environ-          integral policy and decision-making

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

role in ADA implementation in their                     This handbook includes four major
communities.                                        sections. The first provides a historical
    This handbook was created for public            perspective and timeline of legislation
transit system board members to enhance             leading up to the passage of the ADA,
their knowledge of the ADA as public                the second part briefly outlines the
policy and how the ADA affects public               ADA law, what each title of the law
transit vehicle and facilities design as well       addresses, as well as its administration
as public transit service delivery. Board           and oversight. The handbook
members will also gain an understanding             also explains how the ADA is
of the federal role in administering the            implemented by public transportation
ADA. Finally, the handbook addresses the            operators and provides an overview of
evolution of the ADA and the nationwide             more recent initiatives—health and
movement toward coordinated                         human service coordination, mobility
transportation planning, mobility                   management, and universal design—
management, and universal design.                   which, while not a part of the law, have
    Vehicle accessibility is just one piece         been spurred by the spirit of the ADA.
of providing accessible public transit              In addition, the handbook includes a
service. The accessibility of public                resource list for ADA-related public
meetings, availability of accessible                law, Web sites, and training and
pathways, the ADA compliance process,               technical assistance. The handbook
paratransit service and eligibility, and            contains public transportation terms
sensitivity to customers with disabilities          that may be new for board members. To
are additional areas that board members             assist the reader, a glossary is included
must consider.                                      in Appendix A.
    This handbook serves as a starting                  Although the ADA clearly provides
point for understanding the connection              minimum standards addressing
between the ADA and public                          discrimination against individuals with
transportation. By understanding what               disabilities, the application of ADA law
makes transit vehicles and facilities               is complex. It would be impossible to
accessible, board members should                    capture all facets of the ADA in this
achieve a greater understanding of the              brief handbook. Readers should consult
service needs of the community as well              additional resources and access legal
as how ADA implementation affects                   expertise when making ADA-related
the annual financial and operational                decisions.
decisions of a public transportation

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

 History: Movements Toward the ADA

S  everal landmark federal acts and
   rulings laid the foundation for the
ADA. Milestones in the development
                                               Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
                                               The ABA required that buildings
                                               constructed or altered by or on behalf
and implementation of the ADA include          of the United States government, leased
the following:                                 by the federal government, or financed
                                               by federal grants or loans, be designed
Civil Rights Act of 1964                       and constructed to be accessible to
                                               people with disabilities.
The Civil Rights Act prohibited
discrimination on the basis of race,
sex, religion, and national origin.            Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The law applied to voting, public              The Rehabilitation Act is considered the
accommodations, public facilities,             cornerstone piece of legislation leading
public education, and federally-assisted       to inclusion of people with disabilities
programs. Title VI of the Act addressed        in the U.S. This act noted that physical
public transportation agencies and             and communication accessibility is
discrimination based on race, color,           crucial to the integration of people
and national origin. Although it is            with disabilities into every facet of
considered the beginning of the                society. In 1973, Congress linked
movement that would eventually lead to         access policy to civil rights and created
the ADA, the Civil Rights Act did not          a federal enforcement and technical
protect people with disabilities.1             assistance agency—the Architectural

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

and Transportation Barriers Compliance         opportunity for people with disabilities.
Board—commonly known as the                    The NCD drafted the first version of
Access Board—to establish design               the Americans with Disabilities Act in
guidelines for facilities covered by           1988. The ADA passed both the Senate
the Architectural Barriers Act and             and House in July 1990 and was signed
the ADA. This act prompted public              into law by President George H.W.
transportation officials to become even        Bush on July 26, 1990, in the largest
better advocates with local officials to       such signing ceremony in history.2
help ensure that paths to public transit           When the ADA was enacted in
facilities are accessible.                     1990, there were approximately 43
                                               million Americans with disabilities.
                                               Recent U.S. Census figures indicate that
U.S. Department of Transportation              the number has grown to approximately
Rulings of 1979                                55 million people.3
U.S. DOT Section 504 implementing
regulations required that federally
funded transportation facilities and           ADA Amendments Act of 2008
programs should be accessible to all,          Since its enactment in 1990, the ADA
“regardless of handicap.”                      has been subject to judicial interpretation
                                               and review in the court systems.
                                               The ADA Amendments Act of 2008
Enactment of the ADA                           overturned Supreme Court and lower
In 1986, the National Council on               appellate court decisions as to what
Disability (NCD) issued a report,              constitutes a disability. The amendments
Toward Independence, recommending              primarily affect employment provisions in
a comprehensive law requiring equal            the original law.

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

            Why the Americans with
         Disabilities Act was Established

T    he ADA was created to provide
     basic civil rights protections for
people with disabilities and is guided
                                                 data, national polls, and other studies
                                                 had long documented the severe
                                                 social, vocational, economic, and
by Congressional findings that physical          educational disadvantages of people
or mental disabilities do not diminish           with disabilities.4 Besides widespread
an individual’s right to fully participate       discrimination in employment, housing,
in all aspects of society, and that              public accommodations, education,
societal isolation, segregation, and             transportation, communication,
discrimination remain a serious and              recreation, institutionalization, health
pervasive social problem. Among                  services, voting, and access to public
other findings, Congress states that             services, people with disabilities faced
“…the Nation’s proper goals regarding            the additional burden of having little
individuals with disabilities are to             or no legal recourse to redress their
assure equality of opportunity, full             multidimensional exclusion.5
participation, independent living, and               As boldly identified in the law
economic self-sufficiency…” for people           itself, the purpose of the ADA is to
with disabilities.4                              provide a “clear and comprehensive
    The passage of the ADA resulted              national mandate for the elimination
from a long struggle by Americans with           of discrimination against individuals
disabilities to gain equal protection            with disabilities”; to provide “clear,
under law in our society. Census                 strong, consistent, enforceable standards

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

addressing discrimination against                   progress in its 10th anniversary
individuals with disabilities”; to “ensure          year publication, Promises to Keep,
that the Federal Government plays a                 “Not only did ADA directly address
central role in enforcing the standards             discrimination in terms of its personal
established in this Act”; and to invoke             impact on the lives of people with
Congressional authority “in order to                disabilities, it also addressed the huge
address the major areas of discrimination           economic toll on the nation resulting
faced day-to-day by people with                     from…billions of dollars in unnecessary
disabilities.”4 Physical barriers to                expenses resulting from dependency
employment, transportation, public                  and non-productivity.” These problems
accommodations, public services, and                resulted not only from the barriers
telecommunications impose economic                  created by lack of access to education
and social costs on American society                and employment. Federal policy itself
and deter efforts to provide education,             perpetuated dependency through
work, leisure activities, and rehabilitation        disability programs “reflect[ing] an
programs for people with disabilities.              overemphasis on income support and
    The goal of the ADA is to allow                 an under-emphasis on initiatives for
people with disabilities the opportunity            equal opportunity, independence,
to freely participate in society and the            prevention, and self-sufficiency.”5
nation’s commerce. The ADA seeks to                     The ADA’s public transportation
accomplish that goal by guaranteeing                requirements for service, vehicles,
equal opportunity for individuals with              systems, buildings, and facilities;
disabilities in public accommodations,              alternative formats for information;
employment, transportation, state                   and accessible pathways are means to
and local government services, and                  create integration so that individuals
telecommunications.6                                with disabilities can not only travel to
    As the National Council on                      work, school, and other activities, but
Disability observed regarding ADA’s                 can do so in a non-segregated way.

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

                            The ADA Law
The ADA’s Five Titles                           open to the public, and providers
                                                of telecommunications equipment
I.   Employment                                 and services. Other federal agencies
II. Public Services and Transportation          with ADA responsibilities include the
                                                U.S. Access Board, U.S. Department
III. Public Accommodations and                  of Agriculture, U.S. Department of
     Services Provided by Private               Education, U.S. Department of
     Entities                                   Health and Human Services, U.S.
                                                Department of Housing and Urban
IV. Telecommunications                          Development, U.S. Department of
V.   Miscellaneous                              the Interior, and the U.S. Department
                                                of Labor.

U     nder the ADA, the U.S.
      Department of Justice (DOJ), the
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
                                                    The transportation requirements
                                                set forth in Title II of the ADA are
                                                just one piece of the ADA law that is
Commission (EEOC), the U.S.                     applicable to public transit systems.
Department of Transportation (DOT),             This chapter summarizes the key
and the Federal Communications                  minimum requirements of all of
Commission (FCC) have primary                   the titles of the ADA and identifies
federal enforcement responsibilities            requirements that do not fall directly
as the law applies respectively to              under the purview of transportation
private employers, state and local              but affect public transit employees,
governments, all facilities and programs        information, and telecommunications.6

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

    In addition, this chapter provides                  transportation services. An
information on federal agency roles in                  individual with a disability, including
administering the ADA and providing                     people using wheelchairs, shall
ADA-related technical assistance. The                   not be charged a fee higher than
last section of the chapter focuses on the              the posted or applicable rate for
Federal Transit Administration (FTA)                    transportation services. Fees may not
Office of Civil Rights’ responsibilities                be charged for the complementary
regarding the ADA.                                      paratransit service eligibility
                                                        determination process.
General ADA requirements regarding
                                                   n    An individual with a disability shall
                                                        not be required to be accompanied
The following requirements apply to
                                                        by an attendant nor be required to
all public or private entities that must
                                                        use designated priority seats if the
comply with U.S. DOT regulations:
                                                        individual chooses not to do so.
n   No entity may discriminate against             n    An individual shall not be denied
    an individual with a disability in                  transportation service because a
    connection with the provision of                    provider’s insurance conditions,
    transportation service.                             coverage, or rates are based on
n   An individual shall not be denied use               the absence of individuals with
    of a transportation service provided                disabilities.
    to the general public if the individual
    is capable of using that service.
                                                   TITLE I—EMPLOYMENT
n   An entity must not refuse to serve
    an individual with disabilities solely         Key requirement:
    because the individual’s disability
                                                   n	   An employer, employment agency,
    results in appearance or involuntary
                                                        labor organization or joint labor-
    behavior that may offend, annoy, or
                                                        management committee may
    inconvenience employees or others.
                                                        not discriminate on the basis of
n   Special charges (other than                         disability in regard to job application
    those authorized by U.S. DOT                        procedures, hiring, advancement or
    ADA regulations) may not be                         discharge of employees, employee
    imposed on individuals with                         compensation, job training, and
    disabilities, including individuals                 other terms, conditions, and
    using wheelchairs, for providing                    privileges of employment.

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Regarding transportation:                          activities or subject to discrimination by
n	 A transportation employer may                   a public agency.
   require that employees comply with
                                                   Regarding transportation:
   standards established in U.S. DOT
   regulations.                                    The ADA’s requirements for public
                                                   transportation providers are generally
n	   Requirements do not encourage,                the same whether they are public
     prohibit, restrict, or authorize the          agencies or private contractors.
     lawful exercise of transportation                 Standards apply to facilities and
     employers to test employees                   vehicles, stations, and rail passenger cars
     for illegal drug use or on-duty               and must meet the U.S. Access Board’s
     alcohol impairment nor to remove              guidelines as incorporated into U.S.
     employees in safety-sensitive duties          DOT ADA regulations. Historic fixed-
     who test positive for illegal drug use        route vehicles that are operated solely
     or on-duty alcohol impairment.                on route segments that are included in
Although the ADA does not stipulate                the National Register of Historic Places,
requirements related to drug use or                such as the San Francisco cable cars,
alcohol impairment or testing, U.S.                are subject only to modifications that
DOT regulations do address these issues.           do not significantly alter their historic
Board members are encouraged to                    character.
familiarize themselves with U.S. DOT               n	   Fixed-Route Bus Service
and FTA Safety and Security regulations
                                                        	   All new vehicles—purchased
pertaining to substance abuse.
                                                             or leased—must be accessible
                                                             to individuals with mobility,
TITLE II—PUBLIC SERVICES                                     cognitive, and sensory (hearing/
AND TRANSPORTATION                                           sight-related) disabilities,
                                                             including persons who use
Key requirement ensures non-discrim-                         wheelchairs or mobility devices.
ination on the basis of disability in                        Accessibility features are
receipt of services, when basic eligibility                  required to assist riders.
criteria are met, and in employment by                  	   All used or remanufactured
public agencies:                                             vehicles must be accessible
An individual with a disability must not                     to individuals with mobility,
be excluded from participation in or be                      cognitive, and sensory (hearing/
denied benefits of services, programs or                     sight-related) disabilities,

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

        including persons who use                           While the accessibility
        wheelchairs, unless good-faith                 requirements for vehicles are the
        efforts (as defined by U.S.                    same whether the service is fixed-
        DOT ADA regulations) or an                     route or demand responsive, the
        engineering study indicate that                vehicle acquisition requirements
        specific requirements cannot                   differ in a significant manner. While
        be met.                                        all fixed-route vehicles must be
n	   ADA-Complementary Paratransit                     accessible, public entities operating
     A fixed route system (bus or                      a demand-responsive service for
     rail) must provide paratransit                    the general public may acquire
     and other transit services with                   an inaccessible vehicle if they
     service levels (including response                can demonstrate that the level of
     times, trip length, and fares) that               service available to persons with
     are comparable to the public                      disabilities (including wheelchair
     transportation services provided to               users) is equivalent to the level
     people without disabilities.                      of service available to persons
                                                       without disabilities. This includes
n	   Demand Response Systems                           response times, fares, geographic
     Demand response service is public                 area, hours and days of service,
     transit provided by bus, van, car,                reservations capacity, and so forth.
     or taxi at the request (demand)                   Before an inaccessible vehicle is
     of the customer. While the term                   acquired, a certificate attesting to
     paratransit is often used to describe             the equivalency of the service must
     any type of demand-responsive                     be filed with the Federal Transit
     service, both terms have specific                 Administration or the appropriate
     individual meanings under ADA.                    state program office.
     In this context, demand response
     refers to general-purpose call-a-ride        n	   Rail
     services provided to the general                  	   Stations: All new stations
     public. Demand response service                        must be readily accessible to
     may be available in communities that                   and usable by persons with
     do not provide fixed-route public                      disabilities, including wheelchair
     transit or in larger communities as                    users. Any alterations to existing
     an addition to fixed-route and ADA                     stations and paths of travel to
     complementary paratransit service.                     and from altered areas must

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

          be accessible. In addition, all               a good-faith effort meeting the
          rail systems in existence as of               criteria specified in U.S. DOT ADA
          July 26, 1990 were required                   regulations fails to identify suitable
          to engage in a planning and                   used vehicles. All remanufactured
          public participation process to               rail vehicles must be made accessible,
          develop a plan to ensure that                 unless an engineering analysis
          certain key stations would be                 demonstrates that meeting a specific
          made accessible by July 26,                   requirement would have a significant
          1993, whether or not alterations              adverse effect on the vehicle’s
          were otherwise planned unless                 structural integrity.
          an extension was granted by the                    As of July 26, 1995, each
          Federal Transit Administrator.                public entity operating rail service
          Extensions were permitted                     was required to ensure that
          through July 26, 2020.                        at least one car on every train
                                                        was accessible to and usable by
     	   Key stations are typically:                   persons with disabilities, including
          	 transfer stations                          wheelchair users. If a public entity
          	   major interchange points                 is establishing a new rail system
               with other transportation                and intends to acquire used or
               modes                                    remanufactured rail vehicles, and
                                                        suitable accessible vehicles are
          	   stations serving major                   unavailable, a sufficient number of
               activity centers                         used or remanufactured vehicles
          	   stations with passenger                  must be modified to ensure that at
               boardings that exceed                    least one car is accessible per train.
               average station boarding by                   Historic train cars operated solely
               at least 15 percent                      on a rail segment included on the
                                                        National Register of Historic Places
          	   end stations                             require only those modifications
                                                        necessary per the law and only those
n	   Rail vehicles
                                                        that do not significantly alter the
     All new rail vehicles must be                      historic character of such vehicles.
     accessible to and usable by
     persons with disabilities, including          n	   Commuter Rail
     wheelchair users. All used rail                    	   Commuter rail service is subject
     vehicles must be accessible unless                      to the same provisions as light

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

          rail and rapid rail, in terms of                 	   Intercity rail transportation
          vehicle accessibility, acquisition,                   must also provide on each
          and at least one accessible car                       train a number of spaces to
          per train; facility construction                      fold and store wheelchairs (to
          and alteration; and key stations.                     accommodate individuals who
          However, because of the nature                        wish to transfer to coach seats)
          of commuter rail service there                        equal to not less than the total
          are a number of important                             number of single-level cars in
          differences.                                          the train, with no more than two
                                                                such locations in any one car.
     	   New commuter rail cars must
          be accessible to people with                     	   New intercity cars are required
          disabilities including people                         to be accessible.
          using wheelchairs, provide space                 	   The ADA includes accessibility
          to fold and store a wheelchair,                       standards for single and bi-level
          and a seat to which a passenger                       dining cars, dining service, and
          who uses a wheelchair can                             rail car restrooms, as well as
          transfer. If restrooms are                            requirements for providing aids
          provided for any passengers,                          and services to ensure equivalent
          accessible restrooms are                              food service to persons with
          required.                                             disabilities.
n	   Intercity Rail                                   n	   New Public Transit Facilities and
                                                           Alteration of Existing Facilities
     	   All intercity rail stations shall
          be accessible for people with                    	   New facilities must be accessible
          disabilities, including those who                     to and usable by people with
          use wheelchairs, by July 26,                          disabilities including people who
          2010.                                                 use wheelchairs.
     	   Intercity rail transportation must               	   To the maximum extent feasible,
          provide on each train a number                        when existing facilities are
          of wheelchair locations equal to                      altered, the altered portions
          not less than the total amount of                     must be readily accessible upon
          single-level cars in the train, with                  completion.
          no more than two such locations
          in any one car.

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

     	   When alterations are made                     basis of disability in the services,
          that affect a primary function                facilities, privileges, advantages, or
          area, the path of travel to the               accommodations of any place of
          area, bathrooms, telephones,                  public accommodation. Eligibility
          and drinking fountains must                   criteria that tend to exclude those
          also be made readily accessible               with disabilities may not be used.
          to and usable by people with
          disabilities, including those who        n	   People with disabilities shall
          use wheelchairs, unless it would              receive goods, services, and
          be disproportionate to do so.                 accommodations in the most
                                                        integrated setting appropriate.
     	   The terms, “to the
          maximum extent feasible,”                n	   Reasonable modifications shall be
          “primary function,” and                       made to policies, practices, and
          “disproportionate” have specific              procedures to provide services to
          meanings under U.S. DOT ADA                   people with disabilities.
          regulations; see Code of Federal         n	   Architectural and structural
          Regulations Title 49, Part 37.43              communication barriers in existing
          (49 CFR Part 37.43).                          facilities shall be removed where
                                                        possible. Such existing structures
TITLE III—PUBLIC                                        may include but are not limited to
                                                        telephones, drinking fountains, and
ACCOMMODATIONS AND                                      paper towel dispensers mounted at
SERVICES OPERATED BY                                    a height inaccessible to people using
PRIVATE ENTITIES                                        wheelchairs, deep pile carpeting or
Public accommodations (e.g., lodging,                   unpaved ground surfaces. Examples
restaurants, theaters, professional and                 of structural communication barriers
personal services, public gathering                     include signage that is inaccessible
places, schools, community centers, and                 to people with visual impairments
recreation facilities)                                  or audible alarm systems that are
                                                        inaccessible to people with auditory
Key requirements prevent discrimina-                    impairments.
tion on the basis of disability in services
and accommodations:                                ADA transportation regulations for Title
                                                   III entities are incorporated into 49
n	   Individuals with disabilities shall           CFR Part 37 and 38, including specific
     not be discriminated against on the           requirements for vehicles and facilities,

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

new acquisitions, and alterations. There                	   require telecommunications
are specific provisions for motorcoach                       relay services to operate 24
operators, taxi operators, airport                           hours a day, 7 days per week for
shuttles, and vanpools.                                      FCC-mandated relay services
                                                        	   state that telecommunication
TITLE IV—WIRE OR RADIO                                       device for the deaf (TDD)
COMMUNICATION                                                users pay rates not greater
                                                             than rates paid for equivalent
Telecommunications services for
                                                             communication services taking
individuals with hearing or speech
                                                             into account the time of day,
                                                             and distance
Key requirements mandate accessible                     	   prohibit TDD operators from
telecommunications to the extent                             refusing calls or limiting the
possible:                                                    length of calls
n	   The Federal Communications                         	   prohibit relay operators from
     Commission (FCC) shall ensure                           disclosing the content of any
     that interstate and intrastate                          calls
     telecommunications relay services
                                                        	   prohibit relay operators from
     are available to the extent possible,
                                                             intentionally altering a relayed
     and in the most efficient manner, to
     those individuals in the U.S. with
     hearing and speech impairments.               n	   Any television public service
                                                        announcement produced or funded
n	   FCC regulations:
                                                        in whole or part by a federal agency
     	   set functional requirements,                  shall include closed captioning of the
          guidelines, and                               verbal content of the announcement.
          operations procedures for
                                                   n	   A broadcast station licensee shall
          telecommunications relay
                                                        not be held responsible for closed
                                                        captioning if the announcement fails
     	   set minimum standards                         to include it.

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Regarding transportation:                        n	   States are not immune from an
Public transportation operators must                  action in federal or state court for a
make communications and information                   violation of federal requirements.
available in accessible formats and              n	   Retaliation or coercion is prohibited
technology, including TDD technology                  against a person who has opposed
for people who are deaf or hard of                    an act or practice made unlawful by
hearing.                                              the ADA, filed a charge regarding
                                                      such a practice, or testified, assisted
TITLE V—MISCELLANEOUS                                 with, or otherwise participated in an
                                                      investigation of such a practice.
Key requirements:
n	   No individual with a disability
     is required to accept an
     accommodation, aid, service,
     opportunity or benefit that the
     individual chooses not to accept.

             ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy


                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

         Federal Agency Responsibilities

T    he U.S. DOT and the Federal
     Transit Administration (FTA)
provide oversight, ensure compliance,
                                                transportation, and communication;
                                                they do not directly apply to the public,
                                                but serve as the minimum requirements
and offer technical assistance related          for standards adopted by other
to the ADA’s public transportation              federal agencies, including the U.S.
requirements. U.S. DOT conducts                 Department of Justice and the U.S.
these activities pursuant to the Code           DOT—the two agencies responsible for
of Federal Regulations Title 49                 the enforcement of the ADA’s Title II
Parts 27, 37, and 38, which address             and III. Although the U.S. DOJ and
transportation services, facilities             U.S. DOT may establish standards that
construction, vehicles, complementary           exceed the Access Board guidelines, the
paratransit, equipment maintenance,             standards must be consistent with the
training, and passenger information.7           Access Board’s minimum guidelines.8
    The United States Access Board,                 The federal agencies responsible for
a federal agency, is charged with               implementing the ADA are required
establishing minimum guidelines to              to provide technical assistance to
ensure that the ADA requirements                individuals and entities on the rights
are applied to buildings and facilities,        and responsibilities under the ADA.
passenger rail cars, and vehicles.              The agencies provide grants to fund
The guidelines include accessibility            the development and dissemination of
requirements for architecture                   technical assistance. Federal agencies
and design, historic buildings,                 responsible for administering, enforcing,

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

or providing technical assistance on the        6. U.S. Department of Housing and
ADA include:6                                      Urban Development (HUD)
                                                   Fair Housing and Equal
1. Federal Communications
                                                   Opportunity—Title II laws as relates
   Commission (FCC)
                                                   to state and local public housing,
   Title IV laws on telephone relay
                                                   housing assistance, and housing
   and closed captioning
2. U.S. Access Board
                                                7. U.S. Department of the Interior
   Accessibility standards for
   vehicles and facilities.
                                                   Public Civil Rights—Title II
                                                   complaints about parks and
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture                  recreation-related services and
   (USDA)                                          education program discrimination.
   Assistant Secretary for Civil         
   Rights—Title II complaints                      html
   regarding federally funded
                                                8. U.S. Department of Justice
   USDA programs and services.
4. U.S. Department of Education (ED)
                                                9. U.S. Department of Labor
   Office for Civil Rights—Title II
   discrimination laws regarding public
   services funded through the U.S.
   ED, including resolving complaints           10. U.S. Department of
   and providing technical assistance.             Transportation (DOT)              	   The Office of the Secretary
   index.html                                           of Transportation (OST)
5. U.S. Department of Health and                        is responsible for developing
   Human Services (HHS)                                 and issuing ADA regulations
   Office for Civil Rights—Title                        concerning transportation.
   II laws and discrimination
   complaints related to state and
   local government health and social
   services agencies.

                      ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
         Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

    	   The Federal Highway                        all Americans.9 FTA’s mission includes
         Administration (FHWA),                     ensuring “equitable, accessible, and
         part of U.S. DOT, ensures                  safe public transportation (thereby)
         ADA compliance in the public               enhancing the social and economic
         right-of-way (roadway travel               quality of life for people with
         lanes, medians, planting strips,           disabilities.” In addition to public
         sidewalks) and on projects using           transportation, FTA’s role in ADA
         federal surface transportation             compliance concerns equal employment
         funding.                  opportunity and the disadvantaged
    	   The Federal Railroad                       business enterprise program. The Office
         Administration (FRA), part                 of Civil Rights is empowered to provide
         of U.S. DOT, administers                   ADA technical assistance and conduct
         intercity and commuter rail                compliance reviews.
         compliance with ADA and
         Title VI requirements. Part                FTA’s Office of Civil Rights
         of FRA’s mission is to ensure              Responsibilities
         non-discriminatory, equitable,             Provide ADA technical assistance
         accessible, and safe intercity rail        through:
                                                    n	   Civil rights workshops
    	   The Federal Transit
         Administration (FTA) Office                n	   Dissemination of U.S. DOT
         of Civil Rights administers Title               disability law guidance
         II public transportation laws              n	   FTA bulletins
         relative to public transportation
                                                    n	   Toll-free assistance line for questions
         services and facilities for those
                                                         regarding public transportation for
         with disabilities.
                                                         persons with disabilities
                                                    n	   ADA courses through the National
                                                         Transit Institute (NTI)
FTA’s Office of Civil Rights                   
The Federal Transit Administration is
                                                    n	   Transit Cooperative Research
responsible for civil rights compliance
                                                         Program (TCRP) projects
and monitoring implementation
to ensure the non-discriminatory
provision of public transit services for

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Administer ADA compliance by:                     The types of ADA compliance reviews are:
n	   Collaborating with other federal             1. Fixed-route, onboard stop
     agencies such as the U.S. DOJ                   announcements and route
n	   Conducting periodic reviews of                  identification
     public transit agencies’ fixed-route         2. Fixed-route lift maintenance and
     and ADA-complementary paratransit               operation
     services to ensure ADA compliance
                                                  3. Key and new rail station reviews
     and investigating individual
     complaints of discrimination                 4. ADA complementary paratransit
                                                     service focusing on the ADA-
                                                     complementary paratransit service
ADA Compliance Reviews                               criteria, eligibility process, and
Compliance reviews conducted by                      service delivery to determine
the Office of Civil Rights assist the                whether the service is free of
public transit agency and FTA in                     capacity constraints.
determining whether the service
                                                  Capacity constraints are prohibited
provided is delivered in a manner
                                                  limitations on service. Examples include:
consistent with the U.S. DOT ADA
regulations. The ADA fixed route and              n	   Restrictions on the number of trips
paratransit reviews include examining             n	   Waiting lists for trip requests or
policies and standards regarding service               stand-by lists for trip cancellations
statistics, service records, and operating
documents. The reviews also include               n	   Any operational patterns or practices
observing aspects of service delivery.                 that significantly limit availability of
Input is gathered from local disability                service, such as patterns or practices
organizations and customers, including                 of untimely pickups, trip denials,
riders who have filed ADA complaints                   missed trips or excessive trip lengths
with FTA. Technical assistance                    n	   Untimely drop-offs and telephone/
is provided for the public transit                     reservation access problems (long
operator to monitor services for ADA                   hold times and busy signals) as
compliance.                                            capacity constraints10

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

The paratransit eligibility process and              FRA’s Office of Civil Rights
eligibility criteria are discussed in further        The Federal Railroad Administration
detail in the next section on ADA                    Office of Civil Rights works to ensure
regulations.                                         the non-discriminatory use of federal
    The FTA Office of Civil Rights                   funds by recipients of FRA’s assistance,
makes every effort to give public                    including their sub-recipients and
transportation agencies 45 days’ notice              contractors. Compliance, review, and
of lift and paratransit reviews to allow             assessment areas include meeting Title
adequate time for the agency to collect              VI requirements of the 1964 Civil
the data needed prior to the review                  Rights Act, an Equal Employment
team’s on site visit.                                Opportunity program, Disadvantaged
    ADA compliance review final reports              Business Enterprise (DBE), and ADA
and transmittal letters for lifts, stops,            for intercity rail services. FRA does not
and paratransit reviews may be found                 have statutory authority to administer a
on the FTA web site at                  DBE program, however, FRA supports
gov/ada.                                             objectives of DBE programs and DBE
                                                     objectives of all FRA grantees.

             ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy


                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

    ADA Regulations and ADAAG
   Guidelines Affecting Operations,
 Customer Service, Vehicles & Facilities

P   ublic transportation systems
    implement the ADA by providing
accessible services, vehicles and rail
                                                  the basis of disability, whether or not
                                                  the entities receive federal funding.
                                                  Please refer to the ADA Law chapter
cars; allowing service animals on board;          for the general summary of Titles I-V
providing information in alternative              of the ADA. Compliance with U.S.
formats for individuals with visual,              DOT ADA regulations is also required
auditory, or cognitive impairments;               under the Code of Federal Regulations
providing accessible facilities, stations,        Title 49, Part 27 (49 CFR Part 27) as a
pathways, and stops; and complying                condition of eligibility for recipients of
with other requirements such as                   federal funding.
announcing stops. These create                        This chapter summarizes 49 CFR
integration so that individuals with              Part 27 on transportation services and
disabilities travel in a non-segregated           facilities (e.g., buildings, stations and
way. In addition, the requirements                bus stops), and Part 38 on vehicles and
support customer service.                         systems. Compliance with these ADA
    Under the ADA, all activities                 requirements is also a basic condition
provided or funded by state and local             of eligibility for federal funding. The
governments must not discriminate on              ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)

                      ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
         Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

developed by the U.S. Access Board for            n	   Rider information must be
stations, bus stops, and paths of travel               accessible: A public transportation
are included in this summary.                          system must provide adequate
                                                       information on services in accessible
                                                       formats and technology (e.g.,
                                                       timetables in braille or audio formats
                                                       and telecommunication device for
     THE PASSAGE OF THE                                the deaf (TDD) services).
                                                  n	   Assistance equipment and
     An example of progress since                      amenities must be in operating
     the 1990 enactment of the ADA                     condition: Equipment and facilities,
     law is vehicle accessibility. In                  such as lifts, wheelchair securement
     1991—the baseline year—43                         devices, elevators, signage, and other
     percent of buses were accessible.                 communication systems, should be
     By 2009, the nation’s bus fleet                   in operating condition. If a feature
     was 98 percent accessible; 99                     is out of order, it must be repaired
     percent of heavy rail, 83 percent                 promptly. In the meantime, the
     of commuter rail, and 77                          provider shall take reasonable steps
     percent of light rail vehicles were               to accommodate individuals with
     accessible.11                                     disabilities.
                                                  n	   Public transit staff must use
                                                       assistance equipment: Vehicle
Overall operational requirements                       operators and staff must make use of
                                                       the accessible features.
n	   Public and private organizations
     must meet the ADA: A public                  n	   Allow time to board: Public transit
     agency entering into a contract or                operators must allow adequate time
     other arrangement with a private                  for individuals with disabilities to
     entity to operate services must                   board and alight from vehicles.
     ensure that the private entity meets         n	   Service animals allowed: Service
     all ADA requirements for the public               animals may accompany individuals
     entity.                                           with disabilities in vehicles and

                      ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

n	   Priority seating and signs: Fixed-                  intersections, destination points,
     route and rail systems must have                    and other points sufficient to permit
     signs designating priority seating                  people with visual impairments to
     for those with disabilities. Contrast               orient themselves to their location.
     and type size are specified. On                     In addition, the operator must
     fixed-route buses, at least one set of              announce any stop at the request of
     forward-facing seats must be marked                 a rider with a disability. For buses
     as priority seating.                                over 22 ft., a public address system
n	   Operator training: Operators                        is needed. (Most standard coaches
     must receive training to proficiency,               are 35 or 40 ft. long.) The public
     as appropriate to their duties, to                  address system allows driver or
     operate vehicles and equipment                      voice annunciator (recorded speech
     safely, and properly assist individuals             messages) stop announcements and
     with disabilities in a respectful                   messages to be heard throughout
     and courteous way, and provide                      the vehicle.
     appropriate attention to the                   n	   Destination information on
     differences among individuals with                  vehicles: Vehicles shall have
     disabilities.                                       destination and route information
n	   Accessible formats: Public transit                  on the front and boarding side of a
     operators must make available                       vehicle. There are size requirements
     to individuals with disabilities                    for the numbers and letters on the
     adequate information concerning                     route information signs.
     transportation services. This                  n	   Fixed-route riders with visual
     obligation includes making adequate                 impairments: There must be
     communications capacity available,                  a means by which a rider with a
     through accessible formats and                      visual impairment can identify the
     technology, to enable users to obtain               proper vehicle or be identified to the
     information and schedule service.                   operator as a person seeking a ride
                                                         on a particular route.
Fixed-route bus service                             n	   Lifts/ramps: Vehicles need a
requirements                                             boarding device (e.g., lift or ramp)
                                                         so a wheelchair or mobility-device
n	   Stop announcements: For all                         user can reach a securement
     fixed-route services, stops shall be                location onboard. The wheelchair
     announced at transfer points, major                 lift platform must be at least 30"

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

     wide by at least 48" long and                 n	   Bus Rapid Transit systems:
     designed to accommodate at least                   BRT follows fixed-route service
     600 lbs. The lift platform must be                 requirements.
     clear of obstructions, and must
     have barriers to prevent wheeled              ADA-complementary paratransit
     mobility devices from rolling off the         service requirements
     platform during operation. Ramps
     must be at least 30" wide with the            n	   Must provide paratransit within
     least slope possible, equipped with                ¾ mile of fixed-route corridor
     edge barriers at least 2" high to                  and during the same hours of
     prevent mobility device wheels from                operation as a fixed-route service:
     slipping over the side, and capable of             ADA-complementary paratransit
     accommodating at least 600 lbs.                    service must be provided where
                                                        fixed-route service exists. The hours
n	   Illumination, contrast, and slip-                  of service must be the same and it
     resistant surfaces: Stepwells and                  must be offered within ¾ mile on
     doorways must be illuminated.                      both sides of the fixed route, which
     Doors and steps need slip-resistant                is considered the maximum distance
     surfaces. Ramp boarding edges need                 that the majority of bus riders travel
     a contrasting band of color.                       to a fixed-route stop.
n	   Farebox: Fareboxes must be as far             n	   For rail, paratransit provided
     forward as possible, not obstructing               from origins within a ¾-mile
     passenger flow.                                    radius of stations to destinations
n	   Turning room, handrails, and                       within a ¾-mile radius of any
     pull cords for wheelchairs: There                  other station, during the same
     must be sufficient turning and                     hours of service: For rail, the
     maneuvering space for wheelchairs.                 same hours rule applies, and the
     Handrails and stanchions (vertical                 ¾-mile requirement pertains to
     rails) in the vehicle must be                      radii around stations (based on local
     accessible. Overhead handrails                     circumstances, the rail paratransit
     are needed on buses longer than                    service area can be expanded to a
     22 ft. Stop controls, such as pull                 radius of up to 1½ miles around end
     cords within reach of wheelchair                   stations). Only trips between points
     securement locations, are needed on                within the service areas surrounding
     the larger vehicles.                               different rail stations are required to

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

     be provided; trips between points                     transit provider or a family
     within the service area of a single                   emergency or sudden turn for
     station would be analogous to a                       the worse in a variable medical
     trip in which the rider boards and                    condition).
     disembarks from the train within                 	   A rider’s personal care attendant
     the same station (though in many                      (PCA) cannot be charged for
     cases such a trip would be within the                 complementary paratransit service
     service area required for bus routes                  (49 CFR Part 37.131(c)(3)).
     serving such stations).
                                                      	   One other individual
n	   Paratransit service: Service should                   accompanying the rider must
     be from the user’s point of origin                    be provided service, and may
     to his or her destination point.12 In                 be charged the same fare as the
     addition, eligibility is determined                   rider. If the rider is accompanied
     based on the paratransit applicant’s                  by a PCA, service must be
     trip origin and destination rather                    provided to one other individual
     than place of residence. U.S.                         in addition to the PCA.
     DOT guidance on the origin-to-
     destination nature of paratransit                	   Additional individuals
     service is available on the FTA ADA                   accompanying the customer
     Web site at                      may travel if there is space in
                                                           the vehicle and if the inclusion
     	   Paratransit rides must be                        of these individuals will not
          provided no more than an hour                    result in denial of service to
          before or after a requested                      another ADA-eligible paratransit
          departure time if the reservation                customer.
          was made the previous day. Pick-
          up times may be negotiated.                 	   In order to be considered as
                                                           “accompanying” the rider, the
     	   Service may be suspended for                     other individual(s) must have
          riders who establish a pattern                   the same origin and destination
          or practice of missing scheduled                 as the customer.
          rides (but not for reasons
          beyond the customer’s control,
          such as scheduling problems,
          late pickups, and operational
          problems on the part of the

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

ADA-complementary paratransit                      n	   Public providers of ADA
                                                        complementary paratransit must
eligibility requirements                                establish a process for determining
n	   Who may be eligible? The                           eligibility for paratransit service.
     following individuals are eligible for             Required elements are:
     ADA complementary paratransit                      	   The process must strictly limit
     service, whether their disability is                    eligibility to individuals included
     permanent or temporary:                                 in the categories listed in 49
     	   Any individual with a disability                   CFR Part 37.123.
          who is unable to independently                	   All materials in the process must
          use the fixed-route service                        be in accessible formats upon
          because of a physical or mental                    request.
          impairment (wheelchair lifts
          and operator assistance can be                	   If the eligibility determination
          expected).                                         process goes on longer than 21
                                                             days, applicants are presumed
     	   Any individual with an                             eligible and must receive service
          impairment-related condition                       (until/unless the applicant is
          that affects their ability to                      later found to be ineligible).
          navigate natural or architectural
          barriers when traveling to/from               	   The determination of eligibility,
          a bus stop or station.                             including specific reasons for
                                                             denial, must be in writing.
     	   Any individual with a disability
          who requires an accessible bus or             	   Each eligible individual must
          train when one is not available.                   receive documentation from the
                                                             paratransit provider that states
     	   Visitors who present                               he or she is ADA paratransit
          documentation that they are                        eligible.
          eligible for paratransit in the
          jurisdiction where they live or               	   For those determined to be
          who otherwise certify that they                    ineligible or conditionally
          are unable to independently use                    eligible (e.g., unable to use
          fixed-route transit. Visitors are                  fixed-route service for some trips
          eligible for any combination                       due to weather or variable health
          of 21 days during any 365-day                      conditions) there must be an
          period.                                            appeal process.

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

n	   Optional elements in the eligibility          n	   Required in developing the
     process may include:                               plan: Plans must include a survey
     	   In-person interviews and/or                   of existing resources including
          functional assessments, or some               people with disabilities (e.g.,
          form of medical or professional               outreach, consultation, information
          verification, provided these are              in accessible formats, public
          not overly burdensome to the                  hearings and opportunity for public
          applicant.                                    comment, summaries of significant
                                                        issues raised during public comment
     	   Requiring individuals to be                   periods, and ongoing efforts to
          periodically recertified for                  involve the disability community in
          ADA paratransit eligibility at                planning).
          reasonable intervals.
                                                        	   Plans must be submitted to
Recommended reference publications                           the FTA regional office or state
on ADA complementary paratransit                             administering agency for review.
service and the eligibility process
include Easter Seals Project ACTION’s                   	   Providers that have met and
Determining ADA Paratransit                                  continue to meet all U.S. DOT
Eligibility: An Approach, Guidance and                       requirements for complementary
Training Materials.                                          paratransit service may submit an
                                                             annual certification of continued
                                                             compliance in lieu of a plan
ADA-complementary paratransit                                update.
planning requirements                                   	   Providers that have submitted
                                                             a certification must notify FTA
n	   Development of a paratransit
                                                             if they fall short of meeting
     plan: Fixed-route service providers
                                                             requirements due to a change
     must develop a paratransit plan
                                                             in circumstances and must file a
     with a description of paratransit
                                                             plan update.
     service and an estimate of demand,
     an analysis of current service versus              	   Plan updates must address
     demand, service modifications                           items contained in the initial
     proposed (with an implementation                        plan, must contain current
     timetable), no-show and suspension                      information on fixed-route
     policies, and a five-year operating                     and paratransit services, new
     and capital budget.                                     information on paratransit

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

          services, status of service                     	   Trips missed by the transit
          implementation, and a                                provider due to operational
          description of how on-going                          problems or issues cannot be
          public participation has been                        counted against the rider.
          met.10                                          	   People with disabilities should
n	   No-Show and Suspension                                    be involved in the development
     Policies                                                  of no-show policies.
     	   Agencies are permitted to                       	   Prior to suspension of service,
          adopt administrative policies to                     the rider must be notified in
          suspend paratransit service for                      writing. Notification must
          a reasonable period of time to                       include basis of suspension,
          eligible individuals who establish                   sanctions to be imposed, and
          a pattern or practice of missing                     explanation of the appeal
          scheduled trips.                                     process. Customers must be
                                                               given an opportunity to present
     	   Pattern or practice involves                         an appeal.10
          intentional, repeated or regular
          actions. Length of suspension
          is locally determined, but                 Overall rail vehicle requirements
          any suspension must be for                 Common accessibility guidelines and
          a reasonable period of time                requirements for light rail, heavy rail,
          and not overly punitive. No-               and commuter rail vehicles address:
          show policies do not apply in
          cases where trips are missed               n	   Doorway widths and
          for reasons beyond the rider’s                  maneuverability of wheelchair and
          control (e.g., scheduling                       mobility devices
          problems, late pickups, and                n	   Priority seating signs and areas
          operational problems on the part
                                                     n	   Handrails, stanchions, and the flow
          of the transit provider or a family
                                                          of passengers inside vehicles
          emergency or sudden turn for
          the worse in a variable medical            n	   Floor surfaces and floor/stairwell
          condition).                                     coloring
                                                     n	   Public address systems for station
                                                          announcements and other passenger

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

n	   International symbol of                           maneuverability of wheelchairs and
     accessibility: If not all cars are                mobility aids, and public address
     accessible, the exterior of the                   systems inside the cars to announce
     accessible cars should have the                   stations and provide other public
     international symbol of accessibility             information. If stations serve more
     by the accessible door.                           than one line, there must be an
n	   Between-car barriers: The open                    external public address system
     space between rail cars represents                to announce train, route or line
     a safety hazard because passengers                identification information.
     with visual impairments may
     mistakenly identify this space as            Light rail vehicle requirements
     a doorway. Platform screens are
     acceptable to block passengers from          n	   The overall and heavy rail
     the open space. The regulation                    requirements (above) apply.
     provides examples of such methods            n	   If not operating at lighted stations,
     to prevent, deter or warn passengers,             vehicles need outside lights to
     such as chains, extendible gates,                 illuminate the platform or street.
     motion detectors or similar devices.
                                                  n	   All light rail vehicles other than
                                                       level-entry vehicles shall provide
Heavy/rapid rail vehicle                               a boarding device and sufficient
requirements                                           clearances to permit users of
                                                       mobility devices to board. Systems
n	   Vehicles must be coordinated with                 where level boarding is provided
     station platform heights.                         at some but not all stops must also
n	   The doorway width of vehicles is                  comply with the boarding device
     prescribed.                                       and clearance requirement.
n	   Passengers must be alerted to                n	   If lifts or ramps are provided on
     closing doors with auditory and                   platforms or other stops, lift devices
     visual signals.                                   are not required on vehicles.
n	   Other regulations address priority           n	   Specific details on requirements
     seating signs, accessible handrails               for vehicles, lifts, platforms and
     and stanchions (for safe boarding,                operations can be found in 49 CFR
     circulation, standing, seating,                   Parts 37 and 38.
     and alighting), floor surfaces,

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

n	   Between-car barriers are required              apply to all new construction, as well as
     in a high-platform, level-boarding             any alterations made to existing facilities
     mode.                                          to the extent feasible as defined by U.S.
                                                    DOT regulations. Where alterations are
                                                    made to an area that serves a primary
Commuter rail vehicle                               function of the facility, such as the
requirements                                        passenger boarding area of a rail station,
n	   Commuter rail operations must                  additional alterations are required to
     comply with the requirements                   make the path of travel to and from the
     for other rail modes regarding                 altered area accessible as well. Examples
     between-car barriers; public                   of facilities include major metropolitan
     announcement systems; rails and                train stations, intermodal transfer
     stanchions; warnings for closing               centers, Bus Rapid Transit roadway
     doors; lighting and non-skid surfaces          median platforms, and a bus shelter on
     with contrasting edge colors and               the side of the road.
     other floor, step, and threshold               n	   The key items covered by facilities
     requirements; priority signage; the                 requirements include but are
     international accessibility symbol                  not limited to: accessible path
     by accessible doors (unless all are                 surface and width; boarding ramps
     accessible); maneuvering space for                  and bridge plates; bus stop and
     wheelchairs; and more.                              shelters; curb cuts; doors; elevators;
n	   Horizontal and vertical gaps (train-                emergency alarms; escalators; fare
     to-platform) must be minimized.                     collection; gates and turnstiles; grade
                                                         crossings; lifts and ramps; parking;
n	   New rail cars shall have at least two               passenger drop-off areas; platform
     wheelchair or mobility device seating               edges; rescue assistance areas;
     locations.                                          restrooms; signs; stairs; telephones;
                                                         water fountains; wheelchair spaces;
Public transit facilities                                and more.
requirements                                        n	   Accessible route: In general,
Transit facilities, intermodal centers, rail             the accessible path of travel
stations, and platforms are subject to                   must coincide with the general
the accessibility standards established by               circulation path, and the distance
ADAAG as incorporated into U.S. DOT                      that wheelchair users must travel
ADA regulations. These requirements                      is minimized compared to the

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

     general public. This means that                    of accessibility to passengers with
     such elements as ramps, elevators,                 disabilities. Under U.S. DOT
     fare vending or ticketing areas,                   regulations implementing Section
     fare collection areas, accessible                  504 (49 CFR Part 27.7), services
     boarding locations, entrances and                  must not only be accessible but also
     other important facility elements                  be provided in the most integrated
     must be located so as to minimize                  setting reasonably achievable.13
     the distance persons with disabilities                  For this reason, if the required
     must travel to use them.                           gap cannot be achieved, the next-
                                                        most-accessible alternative is a
n	   Level boarding: In general, this
                                                        larger gap that can be spanned by a
     refers to coordination between the
                                                        short bridgeplate. If this approach
     platform and the railcar door and
                                                        is infeasible, then another solution
     entry point such that the horizontal
                                                        permitting access to all cars of the
     and vertical gaps are minimized. The
                                                        train should be employed (e.g., car-
     resulting gap must be small enough
                                                        borne or station-based lifts serving
     that ambulatory passengers can step
                                                        each accessible car). This approach,
     across without difficulty and easily
                                                        while less desirable operationally and
     spanned by a short bridge plate
                                                        as a matter of passenger service, still
     when necessary for persons with
                                                        permits fully integrated service to
                                                        the train.
           U.S. DOT ADA regulations
     specify a maximum horizontal                  n	   Key Stations: Rail transit systems
     gap of three inches and a vertical                 that existed prior to 1990 were
     gap within +/- 5/8 inches under                    required to identify certain key
     50 percent passenger load. If it is                stations that would be made
     not structurally or operationally                  accessible by July 26, 1993, whether
     feasible to meet these requirements,               or not the transit system was
     the regulations permit the use                     otherwise planning to make any
     of alternatives such as mini-high                  alterations (entities could apply for
     platforms, car-borne or platform-                  an extension until July 26, 2020
     based lifts, ramps, bridge plates or               where extraordinarily expensive
     similar manually-deployed devices.                 structural changes to or replacement
         While the U.S. DOT ADA                         of specific stations would be
     regulations do not specify a                       required). This provision, together
     preference among these alternatives,               with the one-car-per-train deadline,
     they do not provide the same level                 was intended to ensure that existing

                 ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
   Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

systems provided some degree                    n	   Intercity Rail Stations (Amtrak):
of basic usability by persons with                   The ADA requires all intercity
disabilities, including wheelchair                   rail stations to be made readily
users, within the near-term. It is                   accessible to and usable by
important that the planning and                      persons with disabilities, including
budgeting processes account for any                  wheelchair users, by no later
remaining unfinished key station                     than July 26, 2010. The Federal
work to ensure that it is completed                  Railroad Administration (FRA) has
by the deadline (or immediately, if                  jurisdiction over Amtrak, intercity
deadlines have already passed).                      rail, and railroad facilities, but many
     It is also important to stress that             Amtrak stations are also eligible
in addition to any key stations, all                 for FTA funding as intermodal
new stations must be accessible, and                 terminals. It is important to ensure
all alterations to any other existing                that the requirements for both
stations must also be accessible.                    agencies are met.
Subsequent alterations to key                   n	   Local building codes: Local
stations must meet the requirements                  building codes may not reflect the
for alterations to existing facilities,              accessibility standards required
and newly-constructed stations                       under U.S. DOT ADA regulations;
replacing existing key stations must                 reliance upon local processes for
meet the requirements for new                        building inspections and occupancy
construction.                                        permits may not be sufficient
     ADAAG guidelines identify                       to ensure compliance. Because
standards for accessible entrance,                   eligibility for federal funding is
accessible fare collection and                       contingent upon ADA compliance,
maximum vertical gap between                         it is important to ensure that
platform and vehicle. In addition,                   ADA requirements are followed.
new direct connections to                            ADAAG (as adopted by U.S.
residential, retail, and commercial                  DOT) represents the minimum
facilities should, to the maximum                    requirement for facilities; local
extent feasible, have accessible                     requirements may be followed
connecting routes to transportation                  when they provide for greater
facilities.                                          accessibility, but not where they
                                                     would provide less.

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Part 27 Requirements                               n	   Adopt complaint procedures,
Part 27 of Title 49 of the Code of                      incorporating due process
Federal Regulations (49 CFR Part 27) is                 standards that provide for the
the U.S. DOT regulation implementing                    prompt and equitable resolution of
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act                   discrimination complaints.
of 1973 (as amended). Its purpose is               n	   Maintain a copy of all complaints
to ensure that no otherwise qualified                   of ADA and/or Section 504
individual with a disability in the United              noncompliance for one year.
States is excluded from participation
in, denied the benefits of, or subjected           n	   Maintain a record (summary) of all
to discrimination under any program                     complaints of ADA and/or Section
or activity receiving federal financial                 504 noncompliance for five years.
assistance, solely by reason of his or her         n	   Permit access by responsible U.S.
disability. It applies to each recipient of             DOT officials to books, records,
federal financial assistance from the U.S.              accounts and other sources of
DOT and to each program or activity                     information, and to facilities
that receives such assistance. Most                     pertinent to compliance, during
importantly, while the ADA applies                      normal business hours
whether federal funding is involved
                                                   n	   Make available information to
or not, 49 CFR Part 27 requires
                                                        participants, beneficiaries, and other
compliance with U.S. DOT ADA
                                                        interested persons information
requirements in order to be eligible to
                                                        regarding the provisions of 49
receive federal funding, and establishes
                                                        CFR Part 27 and its application to
procedures under which federal funding
                                                        the Federally-funded program or
may be terminated on the basis of
                                                        activity, and apprising them of the
                                                        protections against discrimination it
    49 CFR Part 27 requires
recipients that employ 15 or more
people to:
n	   Designate of at least one person
     who is responsible for coordinating
     compliance with these requirements.

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Planning and public participation                   encouraging individuals to serve
requirement                                         on transit boards, transportation
                                                    committees, or project advisory groups.
Events held for programs or projects
                                                        The U.S. DOT’s report,
receiving federal funds must be made
                                                    Public Involvement Techniques for
accessible to those with disabilities.
                                                    Transportation Decision-Making,
Public transit meetings open to the
                                                    includes a section on ADA-related
public (e.g., board meetings, advisory
                                                    public participation.14
committee meetings, and special events
held as part of a planning process) fall in         Minimum requirements identified
this category. Examples of accessibility            by U.S. DOT include:
include: materials in alternative
accessible formats upon request (e.g.,              n	   The meeting location must be
braille), accessible meeting facilities, and             accessible by public transit, including
sign language interpreters for people                    paratransit.
with hearing impairments.                           n	   Primary entrances and doorways
    In addition, U.S. DOT ADA                            used for the meeting must be
regulations specifically require transit                 accessible, barrier free, and usable by
operators to establish an ongoing                        persons with disabilities, including
mechanism for the participation of                       wheelchair users.
individuals with disabilities in the
                                                    n	   There should be circulation space
continued development and assessment
                                                         for wheelchairs throughout and at
of services to persons with disabilities.
                                                         the front of the meeting space.
There are also specific requirements
for public hearings and notice-                     n	   Microphones should be adjustable
and-comment periods whenever a                           to wheelchair height.
transit agency changes its paratransit              n	   Path of travel signs for an accessible
reservations system or intends to seek a                 route to the meeting room should
determination of equivalent facilitation                 be posted.
to depart from the required accessibility
standards for facilities, vehicles, or              n	   Meeting materials should be
systems.                                                 available in alternative formats prior
    Beyond minimum requirements,                         to the meeting.
public agencies may consider additional             n	   Sign language interpreters should be
ways to actively engage community                        available if requested.
members with disabilities. For example,

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

                         Beyond the ADA

O     ver the last 20 years, policymakers,
      transportation providers, and
human service providers have learned
                                                  and community services and that
                                                  options beyond the ADA were needed.
                                                  At the federal level, a memorandum
that many aspects of implementing the             of understanding existed between the
ADA go beyond legislation, vehicle                U.S. Department of Transportation and
design, and minimum requirements.                 the U.S. Department of Health and
Demand for transportation and a                   Human Services; however the number
need for flexible mobility options                of programs funding transportation
have resulted in efforts to coordinate            and the rules applicable to each
resources, funding streams, and vehicles          program limited coordination efforts.
and equipment.                                    In addition, other federal agencies that
    In the decade following enactment             funded transportation programs, such
of the ADA, demand for accessible                 as the U. S. Departments of Labor and
transportation and flexible options               Education, were not included.
continued to increase, and policymakers               The release of a 2003 U.S.
and public transit managers began                 Government Accountability Office
to analyze how paratransit services               report: Transportation-Disadvantaged
were being used and how specialized               Populations: Some Coordination
transportation was funded.                        Efforts Among Programs Providing
    They recognized that accessible               Transportation Services, but Obstacles
transportation is critical for reaching           Persist prompted a Congressional
employment, medical care, education,              recommendation to expand the existing

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

U.S. DOT and U.S. HHS Coordinating                        The CCAM has representation
Council on Access and Mobility                        from 11 federal agencies that fund
(CCAM) to include other federal                       human services transportation
departments. The report heightened                    programs: the U.S. Departments of
legislative and executive branch                      Transportation, Health and Human
awareness of the demand for accessible                Services, Labor, Education, Housing
transportation.                                       and Urban Affairs, Agriculture,
                                                      Justice, Interior, the Veterans
                                                      Administration, Social Security
Federal Initiatives                                   Administration, and the National
As a result, in an effort to improve                  Council on Disabilities.
transportation access, two federal                        The purpose is to simplify access
initiatives and the most recent surface               to transportation, reduce service
transportation authorization focus                    duplication, and create cost-effective
on coordinating human service                         services with existing resources.
transportation at the state and local                 Federal departments now are
levels for older adults, individuals                  required to identify useful practices
with disabilities, and people with low                in human services transportation
incomes.                                              coordination, identify duplicative
n	   Federal Executive Order on                       federal laws and regulations that
     Human Services Transportation                    restrict efficient transportation
     Coordination                                     operation, and provide progress
     The Interagency Transportation                   reports.
     Coordinating Council on Access              n	   United We Ride
     and Mobility (CCAM) was created                  United We Ride is the interagency
     in 2004 by an executive order                    federal initiative launched by the
     signed by President George W.                    CCAM. UWR created a tool
     Bush to coordinate the 64 federal                for use at community and state
     programs that provide funding for                levels to begin the dialog to
     transportation focused on access to              improve coordinated services titled
     healthcare, education, workforce                 Framework for Action: Building the
     development, older adults, and                   Fully Coordinated Transportation
     accessible transportation for people             System.
     with disabilities.15

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

         UWR supports the development               planning; and allowed the use of
     of coordinated transportation                  non-transportation federal funds
     systems to better serve all                    (e.g., Medicaid or Temporary
     destinations, with a focus on                  Assistance for Needy Families)
     human service trips for older adults,          as local match.16 SAFETEA-LU
     people with disabilities, and people           converted the Section 5316 Job
     with lower incomes. UWR helps                  Access and Reverse Commute
     with coordinating transportation               (JARC) program to a formula
     planning, funding, and physical                program and introduced the Section
     resources (e.g., vehicles); bringing           5317 New Freedom program.
     non-transportation partners to the                 New Freedom provides capital
     planning table; providing technical            and operating expenses for new
     assistance, training, useful practices         public transportation services
     and resources, and supports a                  beyond those required by the
     regional ambassador program to                 ADA and alternatives to assist
     address state and local questions.15           people with disabilities in accessing
     Please visit              transportation. Eligible activities
     for further information.                       include: enhancing paratransit
                                                    beyond the minimum ADA
n	   SAFETEA-LU                                     requirements (e.g., going beyond
     Signed into law in 2005, the Safe,             the ¾ mile from the fixed route
     Accountable, Flexible, Efficient               service); providing feeder service
     Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy            to commuter and intercity rail and
     for Users (SAFETEA-LU) funded                  bus stations; creating accessibility
     surface transportation programs                improvements to key intermodal and
     for five years and launched new                public transit systems; and offering
     programs to enhance human services             travel training.
     transportation coordination for                    New public transportation
     older adults, people with disabilities,        alternatives include accessible
     people with low incomes, and public            vehicle purchases; voucher
     transportation riders.                         programs for human services
         SAFETEA-LU required                        transportation providers; volunteer
     local communities to develop                   driver programs; and mobility
     a coordinated human services                   management/coordination
     transportation plan; provided                  programs for both transportation
     funding for technical assistance and           and human services providers.

                       ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
          Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

         Section 5310, a federal grant                	   Promoting the importance of
     program for the elderly and persons                   customer service in improving
     with disabilities, the JARC program,                  public transportation
     and the New Freedom program                           management and delivery.
     require that recipients prepare a                	   Coordinating services and
     coordinated public transit-human                      providers to achieve more
     service transportation plan.17 Federal                efficient transportation
     circulars provide guidance on lead
                                                           delivery and potential cost
     roles in the planning process, as well
                                                           savings through elimination of
     as tools and strategies for developing
                                                           duplication of services.
     a coordinated plan.
                                                      	   Providing travel training, a
                                                           one-call center, and acquisition
Other Accessible Transportation                            of intelligent transportation
Initiatives                                                systems technology for operating
Additional accessible transportation                       a coordinated system.
initiatives include mobility management,              	   Inventorying available services;
universal design, and complete streets                     identifying customer needs;
development.                                               developing strategies to meet
n	   Mobility Management                                   needs; coordinating financial
     The focus of mobility management                      and other resources; using
     is on the individual and employing                    transportation brokerages to
     all the transportation options                        improve coordination; training
     and providers to meet one’s                           staff and volunteers; using
     needs. Characteristics of mobility                    technology to improve customer
     management include:                                   service; and developing
                                                           customer information and trip
     	   Providing a family of                            planning systems.
          transportation services, including
          fixed-route and flexible-route              	   Measuring progress of mobility
          public transit, taxis, hourly rental             management efforts.18
          cars, bicycles, and ridesharing,            Mobility management efforts are
          carpooling, and volunteer driver            typically coordinated at the commu-
          programs.                                   nity or regional level by a mobility
                                                      manager. A mobility manager can
                                                      oversee the coordination of human

                      ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

     services transportation; be a service          3. Simple and Intuitive: Use of
     broker and a travel navigator with                the design is easy to understand,
     one-stop trip planning; provide travel            regardless of the user’s experi-
     training and rider information; and               ence, knowledge, language skills,
     be a policy maker in the transporta-              or current concentration level.
     tion planning process. The manager                The arrangement of information
     might be a staff member at a human                is consistent with its importance
     services agency, planning organiza-               and unnecessary complexity is
     tion, public transportation agency, or            eliminated. Prompting and feed-
     an educational or medical facility.               back is offered.
n	   Universal Design                               4. Perceptible Information:
     Universal Design incorporates                     Essential information is easy
     accessibility features into the built             to understand, easy to find
     environment and improves access                   in any environment, and for
     for everyone at pedestrian facilities,            any user with any sensory
     public transit stops and stations, on             ability (e.g., adequate contrast
     public transit vehicles, in accessible            between the information and its
     taxis, and more. Seven principles                 surroundings; different modes
     of UD are copyrighted by North                    used-pictorial, verbal, tactile).
     Carolina State University’s Center             5. Tolerance for Error: The
     for Universal Design:19                           design minimizes and warns of
     1. Equitable Use: The design is                   hazards and the potential for
        useful and appealing to people                 error; the most used elements
        with diverse abilities. It provides            are most accessible.
        the same means for all users.               6. Low Physical Effort: The
     2. Flexibility in Use: The design                 design can be used efficiently
        accommodates a wide range                      and comfortably with a
        of individual preferences and                  minimum of fatigue. It allows
        abilities, providing choices in                users to maintain a neutral
        methods of use (e.g., right- or                body position, use reasonable
        left-handed), facilitating the                 operating force, and minimizes
        user’s accuracy, and adapting to               repetitive actions or sustained
        the user’s pace.                               physical effort.

                  ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
     Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

7. Size and Space for Approach                      	   More elevators at stations
   and Use: Appropriate size and                    	   Taxis with low floors, high
   space is provided for approach,                       ceilings, and wide door openings
   reach, manipulation, and
   use regardless of the user’s                     	   Visual and audible pedestrian
   body size, posture (seated                            signals with time for those who
   or standing), or mobility.                            cannot move fast
   UD provides a clear line of                      As universal design concepts
   sight to important elements                      become integrated into America’s
   for all; makes reaching all                      built environment, the landscape
   components comfortable for                       will continue to evolve. Ultimately,
   all; accommodates variations in                  citizens of all ages and abilities—
   hand and grip size; and provides                 whether they are pushing a stroller,
   adequate space for the use of                    using a wheelchair, cane or walker—
   devices or personal assistance.                  will be assured of an environment
                                                    accessible and beneficial to all.
Examples of Universal Design for
Transportation Services                        n	   Complete Streets
	   Transit stop features that protect             The Complete Streets concept
     against cold, heat, and wind                   complements universal design.
                                                    Complete streets is a movement
	   Shelters with adequate internal                where streets are designed for
     clearances for mobility devices                safe access by all users, including
	   Lifts and ramps on every vehicle               pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and
                                                    public transportation riders. Planners
	   Bridge plates to eliminate gaps
                                                    and engineers incorporate sidewalks,
     between trains and platforms/
                                                    bike lanes or wide shoulders, bus
     boarding surfaces
                                                    lanes, accessible public transit stops,
	   Accessible Web sites                           crosswalks, median refuges, and
                                                    accessible signals into roadway
	   Wider fare gates, accessible
                                                    design. This concept supports safe
     turnstiles, contactless fare
                                                    access and livability. 20
     payment, universal fare cards
	   More time for fare payment and
     opening of turnstiles

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

ADA: Changing the Face of the Nation

F    or many members of the
     community, particularly older adults
and people with disabilities who depend
                                                    and dignity for millions of people
                                                    with disabilities. Disability knows no
                                                    socioeconomic boundaries. It affects
on public transit to reach work, medical,           people of all ages and income levels.
school, shopping, and recreation                    President George H.W. Bush, upon
facilities, accessible transportation is the        signing the law on July 26, 1990,
vital link to their ability to participate          noted, “We are keeping faith with the
fully in everyday life.                             spirit of our…forefathers who wrote
    Increased mobility for people with              ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident,
disabilities coupled with an aging society          that all men are created equal, that
means that reliance on accessible public            they are endowed by their Creator with
transportation continues to grow. In                certain inalienable rights.’ This Act is
years past, the primary destination for             powerful in its simplicity. It will ensure
a paratransit rider with a disability was           that people with disabilities are given the
simply to medical facilities or other basic         basic guarantees...(of) freedom of choice,
services. Now, destinations are as varied           control of their lives, the opportunity to
as those of public transit riders without           blend fully and equally into the...mosaic
disabilities.                                       of the American mainstream.” 21
    With the passage of the ADA, for                    As a direct result of the ADA,
the first time in our nation’s history              countless people with disabilities have
there was comprehensive federal                     successfully made the transition to living
legislation bestowing not only legal                independently in their own homes or
rights but also fundamental fairness                have remained self-sufficient in their

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

homes longer than in years past. Overall,            At the 20th anniversary of the ADA,
society benefits from the significant            public interest, new technologies, and
contributions these individuals make to          an even greater emphasis on mobility
the economic vitality of communities             and livability in our communities
across the country.                              continue to advance mobility options
    While full accessibility in our              for people both with and without
communities has not yet been achieved,           disabilities. Many of these options go
in less than a generation tremendous             above and beyond the ADA but reflect
strides toward full inclusion have               the original scope and spirit of the law.
been realized. Thanks to advances in                 Public transit board members,
technology, expansion of accessible              administrators, and operators of public
public transit services and broader              transit systems are—and will continue
thinking in public transportation policy         to be—responsible for community
are possible. Public transit riders with         accessibility every day. Their continued
disabilities have enjoyed new vistas             leadership is vital in creating accessible
of freedom, choice, mobility, and                public transportation in their home
independence through universal design,           communities and in helping to establish
mobility management, and health and              livable communities that offer economic
human service coordination initiatives.          opportunity and are environmentally
A generation earlier, these riders would         sustainable for the benefit of all our
have been prevented from participating           citizens.
in many of the opportunities available to
other Americans.

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

1. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.          4. U.S. Department of Justice.
   An Analysis of the Civil Rights                Americans with Disabilities Act of
   Act of 1964: A Legislated Response             1990, As Amended. (P.L. 110-325)
   to Racial Discrimination in the                Retrieved 6-25-09 from
   U.S. Henry A. Rhodes www.            
   units/1982/3/82.03.04.x.html                5. National Council on Disability.
                                                  (2000). Promises to Keep: A Decade
2. Remarks by Jesse Anderson,                     of Federal Enforcement of the
   Board Member, Greater Cleveland                Americans with Disabilities Act.
   Regional Transit Authority at                  National Council on Disability:
   APTA Transit Board Members                     1990-2000. Washington, D.C.
   Conference, Memphis, Tenn.,                    (ERIC Document Reproduction
   July 2005.                                     Service No. ED 444 292)
3. Number of Americans with a                  6. U.S. Department of Justice.
   Disability Reaches 54.4 Million.               Information and Technical
   (2008, December 18). U.S. Census               Assistance on the Americans with
   Bureau News. Retrieved 6-25-09                 Disabilities Act. Retrieved 6-25-09
   from             from

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

7. Transportation Services for                 13. U.S. Department of Transportation.
   Individuals with Disabilities, 49               (2005). Disability Law Guidance.
   CFR Part 37 (2008). Retrieved                   Retrieved 8-31-09 from www.fta.
   6-25-09 from       
   CFR/                                            rights_3890.html
8. U.S. Access Board. (2007). Special          14. U.S. Department of Transportation.
   Report: Accessible Public Rights-               (1996) Public Involvement
   of-Way Planning and Design for                  Techniques for Transportation
   Alterations. Retrieved 8-26-09.                 Decision-Making. Retrieved 8-28-                    09.
   alterations/guide.htm                           pittd/contents.htm
9. Federal Transit Administration              15. United We Ride. FAQs (2006).
   Office of Civil Rights Retrieved                Retrieved 6-1-09 from www.
   6-1-09 from    
   rights_2360.html                                HTML.htm
10. Thatcher, R. & Gaffney, J. (1991).         16. Federal Transit Administration
    ADA Paratransit Handbook:                      (2005). Dear Colleague Letter—
    Implementing the Complementary                 Reauthorization: A Legacy for Users.
    Paratransit Service Requirements of            August 25, 2005. Retrieved 6-1-09
    the Americans with Disabilities Act            from
    of 1990. Washington, D.C. (Report              friendly/news_events_303.html
    No. UMTA-MA-06-0206-91-1)
                                               17. Federal Transit Administration
11. APTA. (2009, April). 2009                      C 9070.1F. Elderly Individuals
    Public Transportation Fact Book.               and Individuals with Disabilities
    Washington, D.C.: Neff, J. &                   Program Guidance and Application
    Dickens, M.                                    Instructions Circular. May 1, 2007.
                                                   Retrieved 6-1-09 from www.fta.
12. U.S. Department of Transportation.   
    (2005). Disability Law Guidance.               financing_8349.html
    Retrieved 8-27-09 from www.fta.

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

18. United We Ride. Mobility                   Colorado Department of
    Management Fact Sheet.                     Transportation. Overview of ADA
    (November 2007). Retrieved                 Impacting on Transit System. Retrieved
    6-1-09 from www.unitedweride.              6-24-09 from
    gov/1_1390_ENG_HTML.htm                    CommuterChoice/Transit/Transit.htm
19. The Center for Universal Design.           Easter Seals Project ACTION. (2009).
    (1997). The Principles of Universal        Accessibility Design Guide for Bus Rapid
    Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, N.C.:        Transit Systems. Washington, D.C.
    North Carolina State University.
                                               Easter Seals Project ACTION. (2009).
20. National Complete Streets                  Accessible Pathways to Bus Stops and
    Coalition. Retrieved 11-24-09 from         Transit Facilities: A Process Guide.                   Washington, D.C.
21. U.S. Department of Justice. (1990).        Easter Seals Project ACTION. (2003).
    ADA Signing Ceremony. Retrieved            Determining ADA Paratransit
    1-19-10 from                  Eligibility: An Approach, Guidance and
    videogallery.htm                           Training Materials. Washington, D.C.
                                               Easter Seals Project ACTION. (2009).
Other General References                       Guide to Effective Communication
                                               Technology for Paratransit Service.
Accessibility Specifications for               Washington, D.C.
Transportation Vehicles, 49 CFR Part
38 (2007). Retrieved 8-17-09 from              Easter Seals Project ACTION. (2009).                         Including People with Disabilities in
                                               Coordinated Plans. Washington, D.C.
Cambridge Systematics. (1999).
New Paradigms for Local Public                 Easter Seals Project ACTION. (2009).
Transportation Organizations (TCRP             Resource Guide to Effective Approaches
Report 53). Washington, D.C.:                  for Increasing Stop Announcements and
Transportation Research Board, Transit         Route Identification. Washington, D.C.
Cooperative Research Program.

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Easter Seals Project ACTION. (2009).            U.S. Access Board Architectural and
Universal Design & Accessible Transit           Transportation Barriers Compliance
Systems: Facts to Consider When                 Board. Americans with Disabilities
Updating or Expanding Your Transit              Act Accessibility Guidelines for
System. Washington, D.C.                        Transportation Vehicles. Retrieved 6-18-
                                                09 from
Federal Highway Administration Office           html/vguide.htm
of Civil Rights. Questions and Answers
about ADA/Section 504. Retrieved                U.S. Department of Justice.
8-25-09 from                  Information and Technical Assistance
civilrights/ada_qa.htm#q1                       on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Federal Railroad Administration Office
of Civil Rights. Retrieved 6-21-10 from         U.S. Department of Justice. Americans                with Disabilities Act of 1990, As
                                                Amended. (P.L. 110-325) Retrieved
Government Accountability Office.               6-25-09 from
(2003). Transportation Disadvantaged            htm
Populations: Some Coordination
Efforts Among Programs Providing                U.S. Department of Transportation.
Transportation Services but Obstacles           (1991). Preamble—Transportation for
Persist. (GAO-03-697) Retrieved                 Individuals with Disabilities (49 CFR
7-29-10 from             Part 37.131) Retrieved 8-20-09 from
Rhindress, Mindy, & Lynch, Frank,
et al. (2008). Understanding How to             U.S. Department of Transportation.
Motivate Communities to Support and             (2003). Americans with Disabilities Act
Ride Public Transportation (TCRP                (ADA) Paratransit Eligibility Manual.
122) Washington, D.C.: Transportation           (DOT-T-93-17) Retrieved 6-24-09
Research Board, Transit Cooperative             from
Research Program.
                                                U.S. Department of Transportation.
National Council on Disability. The             (2003). Framework for Action: Building
Current State of Transportation for             the Fully Coordinated Transportation
People with Disabilities in the United          System. Federal Transit Administration.
States. June 13, 2005.                          Washington, D.C.

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

         Appendix A: Glossary of Terms
ADA Complementary Paratransit                      occupancy vehicle lanes, expressways
A system of demand-responsive services             or streets. BRT uses intelligent
for people whose disabilities prevent              transportation systems technology,
them from using the regular fixed-route            priority for transit, rapid fare collection,
bus or rail service. ADA paratransit               and integration with land use to
must provide a level of service that is            substantially upgrade bus system
comparable to that provided by the                 performance.
regular fixed-route system in terms of
service area, hours and days of service,           Commuter Rail
response times, fares, and other criteria          A railway for urban passenger service
specified in U.S. DOT ADA regulations.             consisting of local short distance travel
In this manner, paratransit functions as           operating on the general system of
a safety net for persons whose disabilities        railroads between a central city and
prevent them from using the fixed-route            adjacent suburbs. Service is operated
system; it is not intended as a means to           on a regular basis and is characterized
meet all of the transportation needs for           by multi-trip tickets, specific station to
all persons with disabilities.                     station fares, and typically one or two
                                                   stations in the central business district.
Bus Rapid Transit
Limited-stop bus service that relies on            Demand Response Service
technology to speed service. BRT can               Cars, vans, buses or taxis that operate
operate on exclusive transitways, high-            in response to calls from passengers. A

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

transit operator or agent dispatches a               major U.S. cities. Frequency depends on
vehicle to pick up the passengers. Vehicles          demand for service. Typically two to three
do not operate over a fixed route or                 trains run per day between major cities.
on a fixed schedule. While the term
paratransit is often used as a synonym for           Key Station
any kind of demand-responsive service,               Existing rail transit stations that were
it has a distinct meaning under the ADA,             required to be made accessible to and
and the two should not be confused.                  usable by persons with disabilities,
                                                     including wheelchair users, by July 26,
Ferry Service                                        1993. Key stations were identified as
Ferry service is a transit mode                      such through local public processes
composed of vessels carrying passengers              involving transit operators and the
and/or vehicles over a body of water.                disability community, according to
Ferryboats may allow vehicles and                    considerations established by U.S. DOT
passengers or passengers only.                       ADA regulations.

Fixed Route                                          Light Rail
Transportation that runs along a                     Lightweight passenger rail cars operating
prescribed route according to a fixed                singly or in short trains on fixed-rail
schedule. Urban bus and rail systems are             right-of-way. Light rail vehicles are
the most typical examples of fixed-route             typically run on electricity with power
service.                                             drawn from overhead electrical lines.

Heavy Rail                                           TTY/TDD
Also referred to as metro, subway or                 Telephone Typewriter or Text
rapid rail, heavy rail is an electric railway        Telephone/Telecommunication Device
with the capacity for a heavy volume of              for the Deaf
traffic. Heavy rail passenger cars operate
as single or multi-car trains on fixed-rails         Universal Design
with separate rights of way.                         Design of products and environments
                                                     to be usable by all people, to the extent
Intercity Rail                                       possible, without the need for adaption
Defined under 49 CFR Part 37.3 as                    or specialized design. (Source: North
“transportation provided by Amtrak.”                 Carolina State University Center for
Long-distance train service that connects            Universal Design)

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

      Appendix B: Frequently Asked
     Questions about ADA Compliance

T   he following questions were
    suggested and compiled by Tina
Myles, then associate legal counsel at
                                                 to make the vehicles and facilities readily
                                                 accessible to and usable by persons
                                                 with disabilities. These features include
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit               but are not limited to lifts and other
Authority for the ADA subcommittee’s             means of access to vehicles, securement
workshop at APTA’s 2005 Transit Board            devices, accessible routes, elevators,
Members Seminar, Memphis, Tenn.                  signage and systems to facilitate
                                                 communications with persons with
                                                 impaired vision or hearing. Accessibility
Accessibility Features (Wheelchair
                                                 features shall be repaired promptly if
lifts, signage, communication                    they are damaged or out of order. When
systems, etc.):                                  a feature is out of order, the entity shall
                                                 take reasonable steps to accommodate
QUESTION: Do we have all of the                  individuals who would use the feature.
appropriate features on or in our buses,         49 CFR Part 37.161.
trains, and facilities to ensure acces-
sibility? If a feature does not work, how        QUESTION: Do operators need to
do we accommodate our customers?                 announce stops? What stops must they
Public entities shall maintain in                announce?
operative condition those features of            Entities shall announce stops at least
facilities and vehicles that are required        at transfer points with other fixed

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

routes, other major intersections and           QUESTION: How can a person with
destination points, and intervals along         a disability get information about our
a route sufficient to permit individuals        transportation services and in a format
with visual impairments or other                usable by them?
disabilities to be oriented to their            Entities shall make available to persons
location. Entities shall announce any           with disabilities adequate information
stop on request of an individual with           concerning transportation services in-
a disability. Vehicles shall be equipped        cluding making them available through
with a public address system permitting         accessible formats and technology to
the driver to announce stops. 49 CFR            obtain information and schedule service.
Part 37.167(b); 49 CFR Part 38.35               49 CFR Part 37.167 (f).
QUESTION: How are our vehicles                  QUESTION: Do our vehicles include
equipped to allow disabled customers to         priority seating and wheelchair locations
request their stop?                             designated for persons with disabilities?
Vehicles shall provide controls adjacent        Do operators ask other customers to
to the securement location for                  move from these areas as necessary?
requesting stops. Such a system shall           Operators shall ask persons to move
provide auditory and visual indications         from a designated priority seat or
that the request has been made. 49 CFR          securement area in order to allow an
Part 38.37.                                     individual with a disability to occupy
                                                the seat or securement area. The entity
QUESTION: How can persons with                  is not required to enforce the request.
visual impairments identify their bus at        However, all signage designating
a stop with multiple routes?                    priority seats shall include language
Where vehicles for more than one route          informing persons sitting in these
serve the same stop, the entity shall           locations that they should comply with
provide a means by which an individual          requests by the operator. 49 CFR Part
with a visual impairment can identify           37.167(j); 49 CFR Part 38.27.
the proper vehicle. Each vehicle shall
have illuminated signs on the front and
boarding side of the vehicle. 49 CFR
Part 37.167(c); 49 CFR Part 38.39.

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

Animals:                                           regulations define “to the maximum
                                                   extent feasible.” as “the occasional case
QUESTION: Do we have to permit                     where the nature of an existing facility
service animals on our vehicles?                   makes it impossible to comply fully with
Entities shall permit service animals to           applicable accessibility standards through
accompany individuals with disabilities            a planned alteration.” If the altered por-
in vehicles and facilities. 49 CFR Part            tion of the facility is an area of primary
37.167(d).                                         function, the path of travel to and from
                                                   the altered area must also be made ac-
                                                   cessible. Normal maintenance is not an
Construction (new facility/                        alteration and does not require the same
structure):                                        compliance. 49 CFR Part 37.3 & 49
                                                   CFR Part 37.43.
QUESTION: Do our new facilities
have to be accessible to persons with              QUESTION: Must accessibility costs be
disabilities?                                      included in both new construction costs
Any new facility or station to be used in          and alterations to existing structures/
providing transportation service must be           facilities costs?
“readily accessible and usable” by individ-        All new construction must comply with
uals with disabilities, including those who        ADAAG standards, so accessibility costs
use wheelchairs. 49 CFR Part 37.41.                are included in overall project cost.
                                                   All alterations to existing facilities must
                                                   also comply with ADAAG standards,
Construction (existing facility/                   so accessibility costs are included in the
structure):                                        overall alteration project costs.
                                                   When an alteration is made to an area
QUESTION: Do we need to make our                   of primary function, accessibility costs
existing facility accessible? To what              for those alterations are included in
extent will the facility or structure be           the overall costs of the alteration.
modified?                                          However, when the cost of making
If a structure is altered, the altered             the additional required alterations to
portions must be made compliant with               the path of travel exceeds 20 percent
the requirements of the ADA and the                of the cost of the alteration to the
ADAAG, and accessible to and usable by             primary function area, those costs
persons with disabilities “to the maxi-            are considered disproportionate. For
mum extent feasible.” U.S. DOT ADA                 alterations to existing facilities, when

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

the cost of the alterations done to              Contracts for Transportation
ensure accessibility exceeds 20 percent          Services:
of the cost of the project, those costs
are considered disproportionate. In              QUESTION: Do private entities
such an instance, the alterations to the         operating transportation services as
path of travel must be made to the               contractors to public agencies need to
maximum extent possible but not the              comply with the requirements of the
point of being disproportionate. 49 CFR          ADA?
Part 37.43(e)&(f). Priority should be
                                                 Private entities operating transportation
given to: entrances, routes to accessible
                                                 services under contract or other
areas, restrooms, telephones, drinking
                                                 arrangement with public entities
fountains and then other accessible
                                                 effectively stand in the shoes of
                                                 the public entity, and must operate
                                                 those services in compliance with
Contracts for Construction/                      requirements for public entities.
Alteration of Facilities:                        Public entities that enter into such
                                                 arrangements or relationships with
QUESTION: Do private entities need               private entities must ensure that
to comply with the ADA in the                    the private entity is meeting these
construction of transit facilities?              requirements. 49 CFR Part 37.23.
Private entities must comply with
the requirements of the ADA in
constructing and altering public transit         Lease/Purchase of Buses:
facilities. 49 CFR Part 37.45. Public
entities must ensure that facilities             QUESTION: Are the buses being
constructed by private entities under            procured required to be accessible to
contract or other arrangement are in             and usable by persons with disabilities?
compliance with these requirements.              Any public entity purchasing or leasing
                                                 a new non-rail vehicle shall ensure
                                                 that the vehicle is readily accessible to
                                                 and usable by persons with disabilities,
                                                 including wheelchair users, unless they
                                                 can demonstrate that they made good
                                                 faith efforts to obtain an accessible
                                                 vehicle but were unable to do so.

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

49 CFR Part 37.73. (The requirements             that these vehicles are accessible to
for what constitutes a good faith                and usable by persons with disabilities,
effort are defined in U.S. DOT ADA               including wheelchair users, unless an
regulations; see 49 CFR Part 37.73(c).)          engineering analysis demonstrates that
Any public entity remanufacturing                including accessibility features required
or acquiring remanufactured non-rail             by the ADA would have a significant
vehicles must ensure that these vehicles         adverse effect on the structural integrity
are accessible to and usable by persons          of the vehicle.
with disabilities, including wheelchair
users, unless an engineering analysis
demonstrates that including accessibility        Paratransit:
features required by the ADA would
have a significant adverse effect on the         QUESTION: To what extent must we
structural integrity of the vehicle.             offer paratransit service to our
                                                 customers? Do we need to make our
                                                 paratransit service available to visitors?
Lease/Purchase of Rail Cars:                     Each public entity operating a fixed-
                                                 route system (bus or rail) shall provide
QUESTION: Are the rail cars being                paratransit or other special service to
procured required to be accessible to            eligible individuals with disabilities
and usable by persons with disabilities?         that is comparable to the level of
Public entities leasing or purchasing            service provided to individuals without
new rail vehicles must ensure that               disabilities who use the fixed-route
the vehicle is readily accessible to and         system. 49 CFR Part 37.121(a). The
usable by individuals with disabilities,         service shall be origin to destination
including wheelchair users, unless they          service within a corridor with a width
can demonstrate that they made good              of 3/4 of a mile on each side of the
faith efforts to obtain an accessible            fixed route and around each rail station.
vehicle but were unable to do so. 49             49 CFR Part 37.129(a) & 37.131.
CFR Part 37.79. 49 CFR Part 37.81.               Paratransit service shall be available
(The requirements for what constitutes           throughout the same hours and same
a good faith effort are defined in               days as the fixed-route service. 49 CFR
U.S. DOT ADA regulations; see                    Part 37.131(e). Each public entity shall
49 CFR Part 37.81(c).) Any public                provide paratransit service to visitors.
entity remanufacturing or acquiring              49 CFR Part 37.127.
remanufactured rail vehicles must ensure

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
        Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

    The following individuals are eligible         QUESTION: How late can customers
for complementary paratransit under                call in order to schedule a trip?
the ADA:                                           How soon can they call?
n	   Any individual whose disability               The entity shall schedule and provide
     prevents them from independently              service to any eligible person at any
     boarding, riding, or disembarking             requested time on a particular day in
     from an accessible fixed route vehicle        response to a request for service made
                                                   on the previous day, and may permit
n	   Any individual with a disability who          advance reservations to be made up
     can use the accessible fixed-route            to 14 days in advance. 49 CFR Part
     system, but vehicles used on the              37.131(b). Where an entity’s offices
     route and/or at the time of travel            are closed on the day before the next
     are not accessible                            service day—for example, closed on
n	   Any individual whose specific,                Sunday with operations resuming on
     impairment-related condition                  Monday—there must be a means of
     preventing them from getting to or            accepting paratransit trip reservations.
     from a transit stop or station.               This can be accomplished through the
                                                   use of an answering machine or other
NOTE: Paratransit under the ADA is                 technology.
not intended to meet all of the travel
needs of all persons with disabilities;            QUESTION: May we charge more for
rather, it functions as a safety net for           paratransit trips?
persons whose disabilities prevent                 Paratransit fares are required to be
them from using the accessible fixed-              comparable to the same fare for the
route system. The standard of service              same trip taken at the same time of
is required to be comparable to that               day on the regular fixed-route system.
provided by the fixed-route system,                U.S. DOT ADA regulations define
as provided in 49 CFR Part 37.131,                 comparable as not more than twice the
with its service area and hours and                regular fixed-route fare for such a trip
days of service established by the fixed-          at the same time of day. This represents
route system. The expectation under                a limit; you are free to charge a lower
the ADA is that the general public,                fare or no fare at all. 49 CFR Part
with and without disabilities, will be             37.131(c).
accommodated by the accessible fixed-
route system.

                     ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

QUESTION: Can we prioritize certain                Rail Cars:
paratransit trips (for example, those to
medical appointments) versus trips to              QUESTION: Do all of our rail cars have
other types of destinations?                       to be accessible and usable by persons
No, an entity shall not impose                     with disabilities?
restrictions or priorities on trip purpose.        All new railcars must be accessible to
49 CFR Part 37.131(d).                             and usable by persons with disabilities,
                                                   including wheelchair users. All used
QUESTION: Must we provide all trips                and remanufactured railcars must be
requested?                                         accessible to and usable by persons with
The entity shall not limit the availability        disabilities, including wheelchair users,
of paratransit service to eligible                 subject to certain accommodations
individuals with regard to the number              for unavailability and/or structural
of trips provided or because of “any               issues contained in U.S. DOT ADA
pattern or practice that significantly             regulations. In addition, by July 26,
limits the availability of service,”               1995, each public entity providing
including untimely pick-ups, trip denials          light or rapid rail service shall ensure
or missed trips, or excessive trip lengths.        that each train consisting of two or
49 CFR Part 37.131(f).                             more vehicles includes at least one car
                                                   that is readily accessible to and usable
QUESTION: Can we offer our customers               by individuals with disabilities (49
subscription trips? And if so, to what             CFR Part 37.93(c)), and each entity
extent?                                            providing intercity or commuter rail
Public entities may offer subscription             service must ensure that each train
trips as part of their paratransit system;         (regardless of number of cars) has at
however, subscription service may                  least one car that is readily accessible to
not absorb more than 50 percent                    and usable by persons with disabilities,
of the number of trips available at a              including wheelchair users (49 CFR
given time of day. Public entities may             Part 37.93(b)).
establish waiting lists and trip purpose
restrictions/priorities on subscription
trips. 49 CFR Part 37.133.

                    ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
       Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

QUESTION: Are our rail cars required to          with disabilities who use the service in
be equipped with inter-car or                    a respectful and courteous way, with
between-car barriers?                            appropriate attention to the difference
Barriers shall be provided to prevent,           among individuals with disabilities.
deter or warn individuals from                   49 CFR Part 37.173.
inadvertently stepping off the platform
between cars. 49 CFR Part 38.63 & 49
CFR Part 38.85.
                                                 Wheelchair Lifts:

                                                 QUESTION: What features do buses
Rail Transportation:                             need to ensure accessibility?
                                                 Accessibility requirements for buses,
QUESTION: What are our key rail                  vans and systems are established in 49
stations? Are the key rail stations in           CFR Part 38, Subpart B. In general,
our system accessible and usable by              all vehicles shall provide a level-change
individuals with disabilities? Have we           mechanism or boarding device (lift or
met the deadline?                                ramp) to permit a wheelchair or other
Public entities should have determined           mobility aid user to reach a securement
which of its rail stations are key based         location; and at least two securement
on specific criteria and then must ensure        locations on vehicles in excess of 22
that they are accessible. 49 CFR Part            feet. The lift must have a capacity of
37.47. The deadline for making key               at least 600 pounds with the safety
stations accessible was July 26, 1993            factors specified in 49 CFR Part 38.
unless the FTA granted an extension.             Lifts shall accommodate persons using
                                                 walkers, crutches, canes or braces or
                                                 who otherwise have difficulty using
Training:                                        steps. The securement system shall be
                                                 placed as near to the accessible entrance
QUESTION: What training do we need               as practicable and shall have a clear floor
to conduct with staff concerning the             area of 30 x 48 inches. 49 CFR Part
ADA?                                             38.23. Specific requirements for lift
Public entities shall ensure that                capacity, lighting, signage, and other
personnel are trained to proficiency, as         required systems are contained in 49
appropriate to their duties, so that they        CFR Part 38.
operate vehicles and equipment safely
and properly assist and treat individuals

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

QUESTION: Do we have to have a                  service before the beginning of the
maintenance schedule for lifts?                 vehicle’s next service day and the lift
Public entities shall establish a system        repaired before the vehicle returns to
of regular and frequent maintenance             service. If there is no spare vehicle to
checks of lifts sufficient to determine         replace the vehicle with the inoperable
if they are operative. 49 CFR Part              lift, and taking the vehicle out of service
37.163(b) Best practices may include            will reduce the transportation service
pre-trip cycling a lift to make sure it         the entity is able to provide, the public
is operational, as well as checking the         entity may keep the vehicle in service for
public address system or automated              no more than three (or five) days from
stop announcement system, checking              the day on which the lift is discovered
belts, hooks, straps, and securement            inoperable. Three days applies to areas
devices to make sure they are clean and         over 50,000 in population, and five
in working condition, and making sure           days applies to areas under 50,000 in
the vehicle floor is free of debris and         population. If a lift is discovered to be
obstructions.                                   inoperable in service and if the headway
                                                to the next accessible vehicle exceeds 30
                                                minutes, the public entity shall provide
QUESTION: What do we do if the lift is          alternative transportation to individuals
broken?                                         with disabilities. Lift maintenance re-
When a lift fails in service, the entity        quirements are intended to ensure that
is required to ensure that operators            inoperative lifts are discovered before
report any such failures by the most            a bus is dispatched into service, so that
immediate means available.                      the passenger needing the lift is not the
     When a lift is found to be inopera-        first to discover that it is not working.
tive, the vehicle must be taken out of          49 CFR Part 37.163 (d-f).

             ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy


                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

           Appendix C: ADA Technical
               Assistance Centers
Federal Transit Administration                 U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Civil Rights                         Americans with Disabilities Act
The Federal Transit Administration             Home Page
offers technical assistance and                This Web site provides a comprehensive
workshops on both Civil Rights Title VI        list of all federal agencies with ADA
and ADA-related transportation topics.         responsibilities, federal resources on the           ADA, direct links to ADA publications,
    888-446-4511 (V)                           downloadable materials, and news
    Email:               briefs. A toll-free hotline is also
                                                    800-514-0301 (V)
                                                    800-514-0383 (TTY)

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

United States Access Board                      Easter Seals Project ACTION
This federal board is the primary source        Easter Seals Project ACTION
of information on accessible design,            provides free resources, web pages,
including public transit vehicles.              compiled answers to frequently asked                        questions, a toll-free assistance line,
    800-872-2253 (V)                            training, distance learning events,
    800-993-2822 (TTY)                          and research findings pertaining to
                                                accessible transportation for people with
Disability and Business Technical         
Assistance Center                                   800-659-6428 (V)
DBTAC is a network of 10 regional                   202-347-7385 (TDD)
ADA centers that provide information,
resources, referrals, and training on
the ADA to businesses, employers,
government entities, individuals with
disabilities, and the media.
    800-949-4232 (TDD/V)

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

     Appendix D: Additional Resources
American Public Transportation        —Online
Association                                     Resource for People with
An international membership                     Disabilities
organization for public transportation          This site provides accessible information
systems and industry suppliers, APTA            on disability programs, laws, services,
serves the advocacy and information             and benefits for nine subject areas
needs of those who provide and advance          including transportation. State and local
public transportation.                          resources are also provided.                          
    202-496-4800 (V)

                                                National Council on Disabilities
The Center for Universal Design—                The NCD is an independent, federal
North Carolina State University                 agency that advises the president,
The NC State center is a national source        Congress, and executive branch agencies
for information, technical assistance,          of the United Staes on programs and
and research on the application of              policies for individuals with disabilities.
universal design in housing, public       
facilities, and outdoor environments.               202-272-2004 (V)                        202-272-2074 (TTY)
    800-647-6777 (V)

                   ADA Essentials for Transit Board Members
      Fundamentals of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Transit Public Policy

National Resource Center on                      United We Ride
Human Services Transportation                    United We Ride is a national
The NRC provides technical assistance            initiative of eleven federal agencies to
on public transportation and the                 support states and communities with
coordination of transit with medical             coordinated transportation planning,
care, education, employment, and                 technical assistance, and community
services for older adults and people with        transportation assessments.
disabilities.                                                                   800-527-8279 (V)
    800-891-0590 (V)

Easter Seals Project ACTION        American Public
                              Transportation Association
1425 K Street NW, Suite 200
  Washington, D.C. 20005      1666 K Street NW, Suite 1100       Washington, D.C. 20006
    (800) 659-6428 (V)     
  (202) 347-7385 (TDD)              (202) 496-4800

To top