National Academies Press: OpenBook

Impacts of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Transit Agency Liability (2018)


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Suggested Citation:"II. OVERVIEW, PURPOSES, AND FIVE TITLES OF THE ADA." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Impacts of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Transit Agency Liability. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25329.
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4 tion service to individuals with disabilities on the same basis as other individuals who use fixed route systems. A transit agency may not limit the avail- ability of paratransit service through a pattern or practice of actions or capacity constraints. Part VIII also discusses eligibility for paratransit service, as well as judicial decisions in which individuals with disabilities alleged that they were denied paratran- sit service in violation of the ADA. Part IX addresses the requirements that apply to demand responsive service under Title II of the ADA. Part X analyzes administrative and judicial en- forcement of Title II, including FTA oversight and complaints, and private actions for violations of Title II. Part XI addresses Title III and discrimination in public accommodations, including transportation services that are subject to Title III. Part XII analyzes the relationship of Titles I, II, and III of the ADA and the Civil Rights Act. Lastly, Part XIII discusses whether transit agen- cies may be held liable in tort for claims by individu- als with disabilities. As noted, forty-seven transit agencies responded to a survey conducted for this digest regarding the impact of the ADA on their agency. A list of the tran- sit agencies responding to the survey is Appendix A to this digest. Appendix B is a copy of the survey. The transit agencies’ responses to the survey are discussed throughout this digest and summarized in Appendix C. Appendix D includes copies of poli- cies, procedures, and other materials furnished by transit agencies that responded to the survey. II. OVERVIEW, PURPOSES, AND FIVE TITLES OF THE ADA In 1990, the ADA was enacted to eliminate dis- crimination against individuals with disabilities.10 The ADA was preceded by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 of which banned discrimination by recipients of federal funds against individuals on the basis of a disability.11 10 42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(1) (2018). 11 As codified in 29 U.S.C. § 794(a) (2018), Section 504 states in part: No otherwise qualified individual with a dis- ability in the United States, as defined in sec- tion 7(20) [29 U.S.C.S. § 705(20)] of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to dis- crimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by and over-the-road buses. An FTA circular issued in 2015,7 referenced throughout this digest, provides guidance for recipients and subrecipients of FTA financial assistance concerning their compliance with the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,8 and the DOT regulations in 49 C.F.R. parts 27, 37, and 38.9 The FTA Circular provides guidance on discriminatory practices prohibited by the ADA and explains required accessibility features and the accommodation of individuals using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Part VI concerns the requirements for transpor- tation facilities to be ADA-compliant. Transit agen- cies must comply with the DOT Standards when constructing new facilities or altering existing ones so that the facilities are readily accessible to indi- viduals with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs. This digest discusses cases in which plaintiffs have challenged transit agencies’ compli- ance with ADA requirements. For example, inas- much as the DOT Standards apply to rail platforms, plaintiffs in several cases have challenged platforms’ compliance with the ADA. This digest discusses the ADA requirement that transit agencies designate key stations and ensure their accessibility for per- sons with disabilities. This digest also discusses cases in which plaintiffs alleged that key stations and/or elevators were not readily accessible for use by individuals with disabilities. Part VII of this digest discusses the require- ments for fixed route service under the ADA. When a transit agency purchases or leases a new bus, a new rapid rail vehicle, a new light rail vehicle, or any other new vehicle to be used on its fixed route system, the vehicle must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, includ- ing individuals who use wheelchairs. The same rule applies to the purchasing or leasing of used or remanufactured vehicles. Whenever a vehicle on a fixed route has an inoperative lift for wheelchairs, transit agencies are obligated to provide alterna- tive transportation promptly for individuals with disabilities. Part VIII covers the ADA’s paratransit service requirements that apply to transit agencies that operate a fixed route transportation system. Under the ADA, transit agencies must provide transporta- 7 u.s. DePaRtment of tRansPoRtation, feDeRaL tRansit aDministRation, fta C 4710.1: ameRicans witH DisabiLi- ties act (aDa): guiDance (2015) [hereinafter FTA Circu- lar], available at gov/files/docs/Final_FTA_ADA_Circular_C_4710.1.pdf (last accessed June 20, 2018). 8 Pub. L. No. 93-112, 87 Stat. 355 (1973). 9 FTA Circular.

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Legal Research Digest 54: Impacts of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Transit Agency Liability explores the types of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and legal claims against transit agencies. The ADA has transformed U.S. transit agencies, which now have sophis­ticated programs to address a wide variety of accessibility goals in such areas as the design of transit stations, bus and rail vehicle design, media stop announcements, para­transit programs, website design and content, and many other tools that address ADA requirements. This research presents an assessment of challenges in implementing the ADA from the perspective of transit operators. Additionally, this digest summarizes relevant guidance from the U.S. Federal Transit Administration. Download the following appendix that accompanies the report:

  • Appendix D: Transit Agencies' Policies, Procedures, and Other Materials
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