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Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - Survey Responses

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Survey Responses." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25430.
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24 Responses Received The survey (Appendix A) was emailed to 64 transit agencies representing a wide range of organizations, service areas, and service modes. Forty-three transit agencies submitted a survey response. Responses received for each survey question are found in Appendix F. Table 3-1 lists the 43 transit systems that submitted a survey, including their legal name and the city and state in which they are headquartered. Figure 3-1 shows where the respondents are based on a map. It should be noted that in several cases a fixed-route provider is a distinct organization from the ADA paratransit provider and thus the two organizations were surveyed separately. However, the majority of transit agencies in the survey sample included both fixed-route and ADA para- transit in their responses. Questions regarding service and organizational characteristics of each transit system were asked toward the end of the survey. Those responses provide context for the responses on rea- sonable modification implementation. Service Characteristics A series of questions asked respondents about characteristics of the services they provide (Table 3-2). The majority of respondents (94.7%) reported that they provide ADA complemen- tary paratransit services. Several of the respondents were only reporting on behalf of the fixed- route services in their community; another organization provides the ADA paratransit services. The most commonly indicated base mode for the agencies that provide ADA para transit is door to door (40.5%); curb to curb with door to door upon request was the second most fre- quent response (37.8%). Two agencies provide door-through-door service, and one provides door to door plus hand to hand as needed for supervised travel. About two-thirds (67.6%) of the respondents apply conditional eligibility in their ADA complementary para transit service. Four respondents apply conditional eligibility to ADA paratransit but do not currently enforce it. (Readers who are unfamiliar with U.S. DOT requirements for ADA paratransit eligibility standards, including conditional eligibility or trip-by-trip eligibility, are encouraged to review 49 C.F.R. § 37.123, as well as the discussion on this section in Appendix D to Part 37.) Table 3-3 shows the other types of service that the respondents provide. Most respon- dents (81.6%) provide fixed-route bus service, and 42.1% provide commuter bus service. Bus rapid transit and general public demand response/no fixed routes are the third most frequent responses with 34.2% of respondents reporting that they provide those services. “Other” service types reported include vanpools, human service other types of demand response services, water taxis, and inclines. C H A P T E R 3 Survey Responses

(continued on next page) State City Organization Name Doing Business As AK Kodiak Senior Citizens of Kodiak Inc. Kodiak Area Transit System (KATS) AR Springdale Ozark Regional Transit ORT AZ Phoenix Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority Valley Metro CA El Monte Access Services Access Services CA Oakland San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District BART CA San Carlos San Mateo County Transit District SamTrans CA San Francisco San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency SFMTA, Muni CA San Jose Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority VTA CO Denver Regional Transportation District RTD DE Dover Delaware Transit Corporation DART First State FL Miami Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) FL Orlando Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority LYNX HI Honolulu Oahu Transit Services, Inc. (on behalf of City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Service) The Bus IA Des Moines Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority DART ID Meridian Valley Regional Transit Valley Regional Transit IL Chicago Chicago Transit Authority CTA MD Salisbury Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland—Shore Transit Division Shore Transit MN Minneapolis Metropolitan Council—Metro Transit Division Metro Transit MO Columbia OATS, Inc. OATS Transit NC Asheville City of Asheville ART (Asheville Redefines Transit) NC Asheville Buncombe County Mountain Mobility NM Albuquerque Rio Metro Regional Transit District Rio Metro NV Las Vegas Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada RTC NY New York New York City Transit Authority MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) OH Canton Stark Area Regional Transit Authority SARTA OH Painesville Township Laketran Laketran Table 3-1. Survey respondents.

State City Organization Name Doing Business As OR Eugene Lane Transit District LTD PA Pittsburgh ACCESS Transportation Systems ACCESS Transportation Systems PA Pittsburgh Port Authority of Allegheny County Port Authority PA York Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority rabbittransit SD Pierre Community Coordinated Transportation Systems River Cities Public Transit TN Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority Nashville MTA TX Austin Capital Area Rural Transportation System CARTS TX Austin Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Metro TX San Antonio VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority VIA UT Salt Lake City Utah Transit Authority UTA VA Charlottesville JAUNT, Inc. JAUNT VT Burlington Green Mountain Transit GMT WA Olympia Intercity Transit Intercity Transit WA Seattle King County Department of Transportation—Metro Transit Division King County Metro Transit WA Spokane Spokane Transit Authority STA WA Wenatchee Chelan Douglas Public Transportation Benefit Area Link Transit WI Madison City of Madison—Metro Transit Department Metro Transit Table 3-1. (Continued).

Source: KFH Group Figure 3-1. Location of survey respondents. What is your base mode for providing ADA paratransit? Number Percent (N=37) Curb-to-curb 2 5.4% Curb-to-curb with door-to-door upon request 14 37.8% Door-to-door 15 40.5% Door-through-door 2 5.4% Other 4 10.8% Table 3-2. Base mode for ADA paratransit. What other types of services does your transit system provide? Number Percent (N=38) Light rail/streetcar 9 23.7% Heavy rail/subway 4 10.5% Heavy rail/commuter rail 8 21.1% Fixed-route bus 31 81.6% Bus rapid transit 13 34.2% Commuter bus 16 42.1% Intercity bus 8 21.1% Flag stops on fixed routes—buses will stop for passengers waiting at locations that are not marked by a bus stop sign 8 21.1% Fixed routes with deviations upon request 10 26.3% General public demand response/no fixed routes 13 34.2% Other service types 10 26.3% Table 3-3. Other service types.

28 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule To get a sense of the range of sizes of transit systems responding to the survey, respon- dents were asked to indicate the number of peak vehicles operated by mode by selecting the appropriate range of peak vehicles for operation in rail service, fixed-route bus, and demand response service of all types. The respondents represent a wide range of operational sizes. A total of 94.9% of respondents operate (or contract for) vehicles in demand response services, 84.6% operate (or contract for) fixed-route bus, and 33.3% operate (or contract for) rail service. Among rail systems, fleet sizes vary widely. For both fixed-route bus and demand response modes, smaller fleet sizes are more common. (The full responses to these questions can be found Appendix F under question 36.) Organizational and Operating Environment Several questions were asked about the transit agency’s organizational and operating environ- ment, including contracting for operations or management functions, population of the service area, and environmental characteristics that impact their accessibility (and thus could poten- tially impact the need for reasonable modifications). Two-thirds (66.7%) of respondents contract out for some function of their transit operations or management. Those transit agencies that responded “yes” were next asked whether particular operations functions—those most likely to have front-line employees encountering customers with needs for reasonable modifications— were contracted out. Table 3-4 shows the types of services or functions that these agencies contract out. The majority (88%) contract for ADA paratransit operations and 64.0% contract for ADA paratransit eligibility certification. Two questions sought information about the service area and environment in which the responding transit agencies operate. First, respondents were asked to indicate the population of their primary service area, based on categories typically used by FTA. As seen in Table 3-5, there was a mix of service area population sizes among the respondents, with the largest category (metro region—more than 1 million population) being the most frequent response (41%). Slightly more than 25% reported that their primary service area was large urban, 23.1% reported that their primary service area was small urban, and 10.3% of the agencies reported that their primary service area was rural/small town. Table 3-6 shows selected environmental characteristics that impact a transit agency’s acces- sibility. Most respondents reported that the lack of sidewalks (86.5%) and curb ramp acces- sibility issues (59.5%) impact the accessibility of their services. A further 56.8% of the agencies in this study reported having snow and ice, and 54.1% reported having extreme temperatures. Inaccessibility of older buildings and protected bike lanes along the curb were mentioned among the “other” responses. If yes [for those agencies that contract out for any transit operations or management functions], which of the following services or functions are provided under contract (either in full or in part)? Number Percent (N=25) Rail operations 3 12.0% Fixed-route bus operations 10 40.0% ADA paratransit operations 22 88.0% ADA paratransit eligibility certification 16 64.0% ADA/accessibility management 4 16.0% General public demand response operations 10 40.0% Other service operations 6 24.0% Customer service call center 2 8.0% Table 3-4. Types of services or functions contracted.

Survey Responses 29 Establishment of Policy/Process Respondents were asked to select the response that best described their agency’s reasonable modification policy/process in terms of formal/informal. The majority of those responding indicated that they have a formally adopted policy (70%). The second most frequent status was having a process in place without adoption of a formal policy (21%). Several respondents cover reasonable modifications as part of another formally adopted policy (9%). About 65% had an existing policy (49% informal/16% formal) in place prior to the publica- tion of the final rule on March 15, 2015. Nearly 74% had a procedure in place for handling rea- sonable modification requests, with 26% continuing to use their pre-rule procedures and 48% having changed or updated their procedure. About 17% of respondents had no procedure in place prior to the final rule. Respondents were also asked whether or not the transit agency estab- lished or updated its policy/procedure following publication of the final rule. The majority of respondents (78.6%) did make changes or updates, while about 17% did not. Figures 3-2 and 3-3 Table 3-5. Primary service area type. How would you characterize your transit agency’s primary service area? Number Percent (N=39) Rural/small town—Less than 50,000 population 4 10.3% Small urban—50,000 to 199,000 population 9 23.1% Large urban—200,000 to 1 million population 10 25.6% Metro region—More than 1 million population 16 41.0% Figure 3.2. Reasonable modification policy and/or procedure in place prior to and after publication of the final rule. Table 3-6. Environmental characteristics that impact accessibility of transit services. Which of the following environmental characteristics frequently impact the accessibility of your transit services? Number Percent (N=37) Extreme temperatures 20 54.1% Snow/ice 21 56.8% Mountainous terrain 6 16.2% Steep sidewalk slopes 15 40.5% Lack of sidewalks 32 86.5% Curb ramp accessibility issues 22 59.5% Other sidewalk/bus stop accessibility issues 19 51.4% Other 9 24.3%

30 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule summarize the responses to questions related to the transit agency’s reasonable modification policy and procedures before and after publication of the final rule. Policy/Process Notification Transit agencies use multiple means of notifying staff about their policy and procedure for handling reasonable modification requests, both within the organization as well as with employees of operations contractors. The most common methods of notifying operations employees about the transit agency’s reasonable modification policy and process are new hire training, distribution of written policy, and refresher training (see Table 3-7). Other staff meetings and inclusion in the personnel policy handbook are also common methods. The survey also asked how the transit agency informed management employees about the reasonable modification policy and process (Table 3-8). The survey did not define which employees constituted “management” as compared to “operations,” and it is unknown if the responding transit agencies interpreted these terms consistently. The most common methods for informing management employees about the policy and process are the distribution of written policy/procedure (70.0%), staff meetings (62.5%), new hire training (42.5%), and inclusion in personnel policy/procedure handbook (35.0%). Transit agencies also inform passengers and potential passengers about how to request rea- sonable modifications through multiple means. The most frequent means reported are web pages on specific services and on general system accessibility. Other common methods include Figure 3.3. Formality of reasonable modification policy prior to and after publication of the final rule. Method of Informing Operations Employees In-House Operations Contract Operations Number of agencies employing method Percentage of agencies that responded to this question (N=41) Number Response Rate (N=41) Distribution of Written Policy 29 70.7% 18 43.9% Inclusion in Personnel Policy Handbook 16 39.0% 7 17.1% New Hire Training 31 75.6% 19 46.3% Refresher Training 26 63.4% 14 34.1% Other Staff Meetings 20 48.8% 13 31.7% Unsure 0 0.0% 1 2.4% Other 11 26.8% 9 22.0% Agency does not contract operations Not applicable Not applicable 11 26.8% Table 3-7. Policy/process notification methods for operations employees.

Survey Responses 31 informing passengers during the ADA paratransit eligibility certification process and printed brochures on specific services and general system accessibility. Reasonable Modification Request Procedures A set of questions asked about reasonable modification procedures, including requests sub- mitted in advance and ad hoc requests (Table 3-9). The most commonly recommended methods by which passengers are instructed to submit requests for modifications of policies in advance are in writing/via email and by telephone, to either a specific individual at the transit agency or to the customer service department. Submission through a form on the transit agency’s website and as part of the demand response trip scheduling process are the next most common methods; through the ADA paratransit eligibility certification process and as part of the ADA complaint process are also used. The length of time in advance that the transit agency instructs passengers to submit reason- able modification requests ranged from one to two days prior to the service (23.1%) to 30 days (1 respondent, or 2.6%). Figure 3-4 displays the distribution of responses to this question. Because this was asked as an open-ended question, responses varied widely. The most common response was “no specific time period.” One to two days is also relatively common. The survey asked who at the organization makes decisions on requests made in advance for reasonable modifications (Table 3-10). The most frequently reported individuals are an How is transit agency management informed about your agency’s current reasonable modification policy/process? Number Percent Distribution of written policy/procedure 28 70.0% Inclusion in personnel policy/procedure handbook 14 35.0% New hire training 17 42.5% Staff meetings 25 62.5% Not sure 1 2.5% Other: 6 15.0% • Available on public website • Company Intranet/Training for Supervisors in Paratransit • Intranet Sharepoint and staff meetings • No change in management • Sr mgmt workshop/feedback re: results of requests • We review all feedback and complaints for reasonable modifications and intercede as the situation warrants. Total responses to question 40 100.0% Table 3-8. Methods for informing management employees about the reasonable modification policy/process. If you have a formal policy/process, what method(s) are passengers instructed to use to request a reasonable modification in advance? Number Percent (N=40) Form submitted through the transit agency’s website 18 45.0% Written/email request to a specific individual at the transit agency 21 52.5% Written/email request to the customer service department 20 50.0% Telephone request to a specific individual at the transit agency 22 55.0% Telephone request to the customer service department 21 52.5% As part of ADA paratransit eligibility certification process 12 30.0% As part of the ADA paratransit or other demand response trip scheduling process 14 35.0% As part of the ADA complaint process 11 27.5% Other 6 15.0% Table 3-9. Methods passengers are instructed to use to request modifications in advance.

32 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule ADA/accessibility coordinator and an operations manager. Other frequent responses include an operations supervisor and a trip scheduler. It is important to note there are likely variations from one organization to the next in how each of these positions is defined. “Other” responses included general manager, transit program manager, manager of accessible transit services, director of mobility services, director of planning, dispatchers, drivers, paratransit eligibility manager, paratransit customer care, and reasonable modification coordinator. The methods that passengers are instructed to use to request modifications in advance (Table 3-9) were cross-tabulated with the decision makers for requests made in advance (Table 3-10). Figures 3-5 through 3-13 display the cross-tabulation results. Importantly, these graphs do not reflect who makes the decision for requests submitted in advance using a particu- lar method. Instead, they indicate the potential decision makers at responding transit agencies that instruct passengers to submit a request in advance using a particular method. For exam- ple, for those transit agencies that instruct passengers to submit their requests for reasonable modification through a form on the transit agency’s website (Figure 3-5), an ADA/accessibility coordinator can make the decision at 13 of those transit agencies, ADA paratransit eligibility determination staff can make the decision at six of those transit agencies, a civil rights officer can make the decision at four of those agencies, etc. The survey questions were not constructed in such a way as to be able to determine what specific individual makes the determination by method of request. In most cases, there are multiple decision makers at each transit agency, and multiple means of requesting a reasonable modification in advance. Figure 3-4. Length of time in advance that passengers are instructed to request reasonable modifications. Who makes the decisions on requests made in advance for reasonable modifications? Number Percent (N=39) ADA/accessibility coordinator 25 64.1% ADA paratransit eligibility determination staff 9 23.1% Civil rights officer 5 12.8% Legal counsel 3 7.7% Operations manager 20 51.3% Operations supervisor 17 43.6% Trip scheduler 11 28.2% Other 14 35.9% Table 3-10. Decision makers for requests made in advance.

Survey Responses 33 Figure 3-5. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications via form on the website. Figure 3-6. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications via written/email request to a specific individual.

34 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule Figure 3-7. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications via written/email request to the customer service department. Figure 3-8. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications via telephone request to a specific individual.

Survey Responses 35 Figure 3-9. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications via telephone request to the customer service department. Figure 3-10. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications as part of the ADA paratransit eligibility certification process.

36 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule Figure 3-11. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications as part of the trip scheduling process. Figure 3-12. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications as part of the ADA complaint process.

Survey Responses 37 Figure 3-13. Decision makers at transit agencies which instruct passengers to submit requests for reasonable modifications via another method. The survey asked how the decision to approve or deny requests made in advance is con- veyed to the appropriate operating staff (Table 3-11). The most common methods of conveying approved requests are information “included on vehicle operator’s daily schedule when the indi- vidual is scheduled to ride” and an “email message to staff.” The next most frequent responses were “information conveyed to vehicle operator by mobile communication,” “telephone calls to staff,” and “through the customer database record in the scheduling and dispatching soft- ware.” Denials are most commonly conveyed via an “email message to staff” or “through customer database record in the scheduling and dispatching software.” “Telephone calls to staff” and “included on the vehicle operator’s daily schedule when the individual is scheduled to ride” are other common responses with respect to denied requests. Table 3-12 indicates who is authorized to make decisions on ad hoc requests for reason- able modifications. The vast majority of respondents empower supervisors (89.7%) and dispatchers/individuals who maintain regular communications with vehicle operators (87.2%) to make decisions on ad hoc requests. Operators (71.8%) and managers (69.2%) are also com- monly authorized. Method of Conveyance Approved Requests Denied Requests Number Percent (N=39) Number Percent (N=39) Through customer database record in scheduling and dispatching software 13 33.3% 19 48.7% Included on vehicle operator’s daily schedule when the individual is scheduled to ride 27 69.2% 11 28.2% Conveyed to vehicle operator by mobile communication 17 43.6% 6 15.4% Memos/notices distributed to rail station staff 9 23.1% 6 15.4% Passengers show the appropriate transit staff written approval letter 8 20.5% not applicable not applicable Telephone call to staff 16 41.0% 13 33.3% Email message to staff 24 61.5% 24 61.5% Other 7 17.9% 14 35.9% Table 3-11. How approval or denial of a passenger’s request made in advance for a modification is conveyed to the appropriate operating staff.

38 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule The survey asked about frequency of documentation of reasonable modification requests, both requests made in advance and ad hoc requests (Table 3-13). Requests made in advance are more likely to be documented (61.5% of transit agencies document requests made in advance at least sometimes) than ad hoc requests (only 38.5% of transit agencies document ad hoc requests at least sometimes). Implementation Experience Requests Made in Advance The survey asked how many reasonable modification requests made in advance did transit agencies receive during the 2017 calendar year. More than half of the respondents (56.4%) indi- cated their organizations received fewer than 20 reasonable modification requests in advance in 2017. Five respondents (12.0%) received between 20 to 49 requests and seven (17.9%) received between 50 and 99 requests. Only two transit agencies reported receiving more than 100 requests in advance for reasonable modifications in 2017, and three did not know how many they had received. Respondents were asked to indicate the approximate percentage of requests made in advance that were approved and denied, and to indicate the actual percentage approved or denied if known. The rates of approved requests made in advance in 2017 are reported in Table 3-14. More than one-third of respondents indicated that at least 90% of requests made in advance were approved, while 21% approved fewer than 10% of requests made in advance. This includes an organization that received only one request in advance in 2017. Who is authorized to make decisions on ad hoc requests for reasonable modifications (i.e., requests made to the vehicle operator at the time of service)? Number Percent (N=39) Vehicle operator 28 71.8% Dispatcher/individual who maintains regular communications with operators while they are in passenger service 34 87.2% Supervisor 35 89.7% Manager 27 69.2% Other 6 15.4% Table 3-12. Who is authorized to make decisions on ad hoc requests for reasonable modifications. How often are requests for reasonable modifications documented? Requests Made in Advance Ad Hoc Requests Number Percent (N=39) Number Percent (N=39) Usually 19 48.7% 8 20.5% Sometimes 5 12.8% 7 17.9% Rarely 10 25.6% 16 41.0% Unknown 5 12.8% 8 20.5% Table 3-13. Frequency of documentation of requests for reasonable modifications.

Survey Responses 39 Ad Hoc Requests Over half (59.0%) of the survey respondents did not know the number of ad hoc requests that were made during the 2017 calendar year. As was indicated in Table 3-13, as well as in the open- ended comments, many respondents do not track ad hoc requests. Six transit agencies (15.4%) estimated that they received fewer than 20 ad hoc requests in 2017, and four (10.3%) estimated they received between 50 and 99 such requests. One transit agency estimated they received more than 1,000 ad hoc requests. Twenty-three percent of respondents estimated that at least 90% of ad hoc requests were approved, and 10.3% estimated 80%–89% of ad hoc requests were approved. However, because a minority of transit agencies report that they document ad hoc requests at least sometimes, the approval estimates may not be accurate, and 56.4% of respondents selected “unknown” rather than making an estimate. Communication Methods Respondents were asked the methods customers typically used to communicate reasonable modification requests to the participating transit agencies during the 2017 calendar year. As seen in Table 3-15, the most common method (approximately 67%) was telephone requests to the customer service department, with ad hoc requests at the time of service with the driver the second most frequent response (51%). Telephone requests to a specific individual at the transit agency (46%) and written/email requests to the either the customer service depart- ment (44%) or a specific individual at the transit agency (41%) were also common responses. One-third of the respondents indicated that requests were typically received through the ADA complaint process. Of those methods customers typically used to communicate reasonable modification requests, respondents were asked to indicate which were most effective. As shown in Table 3-15, transit agencies participating in this survey reported that a “telephone request to the customer service department” (48.7%), “follow-up conversation with the requesting person” (38.5%), “telephone request to a specific individual at the transit agency” (33.3%), “written/email request to a specific individual at the transit agency” (30.8%), and “written/email request to the customer service department” (25.6%) were the most effective methods of communicating requests. About 13% of respondents indicated that the ADA complaint process was an effective method; however, it should be noted that some respondents represented fixed-route services only. Approximately how many requests made in advance for reasonable modifications received by your organization during the 2017 calendar year (January through December 2017) were approved? Number Percent (N=38) less than 10% 8 21.1% 10 to 19% 0 0.0% 20 to 29% 1 2.6% 30 to 39% 0 0.0% 40 to 49% 1 2.6% 50 to 59% 2 5.3% 60 to 69% 1 2.6% 70 to 79% 0 0.0% 80 to 89% 5 13.2% 90% or more 13 34.2% Unknown 7 18.4% Table 3-14. Percentage of approved requests made in advance.

40 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule Other Implementation Observations The survey asked respondents several questions about how the implementation of the rea- sonable modification rule affected their agency and services, including any patterns in requests, challenges and benefits in implementing the final rule, resulting policy/procedure updates, and legal action. More than 56% of survey respondents did not identify any patterns or typical types of reasonable requests, while 42% did identify a pattern in requests. Fifteen of the respondents provided descriptions of the common requests. Most descriptions of the typical requests con- cerned the vehicle type. Customers wanted to ride in vehicles that were easier for them to enter and exit and also more comfortable for them to ride in. Other comments from survey respon- dents mentioned requests for rides out of the service area and changing drop-off or pick-up locations due to weather or other obstacles. When asked about the challenges the agencies responding to the survey have experienced while implementing the reasonable modification policy (Table 3-16), nearly half (47%) reported “no challenges to date.” In addition to the multiple choice responses, there were frequent com- ments in the open-ended “other” response. Among the variety of “other” answers about the challenges of implementing the reasonable modification rule, some common themes were in education of passengers in what constituted a reasonable modification and issues with track- ing and reporting field (ad hoc) requests. Thirteen respondents reported experiencing two or more challenges. Figure 3-14 displays how many different challenges transit agencies reported experiencing. When asked about benefits from the implementation of reasonable modification, more than half (57.9%) of the respondents indicated that there were no known benefits to date. Table 3-17 shows that 23.7% of respondents are able to meet more transportation needs and 15.8% said that some ADA paratransit riders moved some of their travel to fixed route as a result of fixed route modifications. A shift from using ADA paratransit to fixed route for some trips can be significant Methods through requests for reasonable modifications are typically received Typical Methods Most Effective Methods Number Percent (N=39) Number Percent (N=39) Online form 8 20.5% 7 17.9% Written/email request to a specific individual at the transit agency 16 41.0% 12 30.8% Written/email request to the customer service department 17 43.6% 10 25.6% Telephone request to a specific individual at the transit agency 18 46.2% 13 33.3% Telephone request to the customer service department 26 66.7% 19 48.7% Through the ADA complaint process 13 33.3% 5 12.8% As part of ADA paratransit eligibility certification process 12 30.8% 8 20.5% As part of ADA paratransit trip scheduling process 15 38.5% 7 17.9% As part of general public trip scheduling process 4 10.3% 4 10.3% At the time of service with the driver (ad hoc) 20 51.3% 10 25.6% Follow-up conversation with the requesting person Not applicable Not applicable 15 38.5% Unknown 1 2.6% 3 7.7% Other 4 10.3% 6 15.4% Table 3-15. Most common methods and most effective methods through which requests are received.

Survey Responses 41 What challenges has your agency experienced in implementing its reasonable modification policy/process? Number Percent (N=38) Difficulty in determining whether a requested modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the transit system’s services, programs, or activities 10 26.3% Difficulty in determining whether a requested modification would create a direct threat to the health or safety of others 6 15.8% Difficulty in determining whether, without the requested modification, the individual with a disability is able to use the transit system’s services, programs, or activities for their intended purpose 7 18.4% Time involved in processing requests 8 21.1% Communicating approved modifications to appropriate front-line personnel 6 15.8% Inconsistencies in how front-line personnel provide modifications 6 15.8% Inconsistencies in how back office personnel respond to reasonable modification requests 2 5.3% No known challenges to date 18 47.4% Other 12 31.6% Table 3-16. Challenges in implementation. What benefits has your agency experienced in implementing the policy/process? Number Percent (N=38) Our transit agency is able to meet more transportation needs 9 23.7% As a result of fixed-route modifications, existing ADA paratransit riders have shifted some of their travel from paratransit to fixed route 6 15.8% No known benefits to date 22 57.9% Other 10 26.3% Table 3-17. Benefits in implementation. Figure 3-14. Number of challenges experienced by each transit agency in implementing its reasonable modification policy/process.

42 Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule both to the passenger in terms of increased independence and not having to pre-schedule trips in advance as well as to the transit system as it is generally far less costly to provide a fixed pas- senger trip than an ADA paratransit trip. Some of the open-ended answers to the question about implementation benefits indicated that the new policy provided a more structured approach for responding to these types of requests. Twenty-two respondents reported that they have experi- enced no known benefits to date from implementing reasonable modification. When asked if their agency has made changes to their policies or procedures as a result of implementing the reasonable modification final rule, 60% indicated that they did not know. (It should be noted that at least one of the respondents had recently been hired by the transit agency.) As seen in Table 3-18, the few remaining reported a variety of policy changes, ranging from improving services to allowing more flexibility in the field (e.g., allowing first line person- nel more authority to grant ad hoc requests). The survey asked transit agencies if they had been involved in any litigation concerning rea- sonable modification issues since July 2015. Only three respondents (7.9%) reported having litigation concerning reasonable modification issues, 76.3% reported no litigation, and 15.8% were not aware of any. Two of the reported cases are still pending, and the third was found to not have probable cause. Seven survey participants (17.9%) indicated that they would like additional guidance or tech- nical assistance regarding the reasonable modification rule. Specific needs mentioned included “front-line operations staff training,” guidance regarding service animals, and “documentation and tracking requests particularly for ad hoc requests while in transit.” Also mentioned was “robust, state DOT/FTA driven training to ensure consistent understanding of ADA/Reasonable Modifications,” guidance for reasonable modification requests that are not required in the U.S. DOT guidance but are medically necessary for a passenger to use the service. Additional Comments Sent Via Email A respondent emailed the following comment that they felt did not fit within the questions asked in the survey: There are aspects of reasonable mod[ifications] that are already policies or procedures that we have built into operations over time. These procedures account for any of the kinds of things that would be reasonable modifications but we may not view them as such since we have a long standing procedure Table 3-18. Policy/procedure changes/updates as a result of implementation experience. Since July 2015, based on your organization’s experience in implementing your reasonable modification policy/process, is your organization considering, or has your organization made, any changes/updates to policies or procedures? Number Percent (N=35) Changes to our reasonable modification policy or procedures 4 11.4% Changes to our fixed-route operating policies or procedures 5 14.3% Changed the primary ADA paratransit policy or base mode from curb-to-curb to door-to-door 2 5.7% Other changes to our ADA paratransit operating policies or procedures 5 14.3% Changes to our general public demand response operating policies or procedures 4 11.4% Changes to other service operating policies or procedures 4 11.4% Unknown 21 60.0%

Survey Responses 43 to address the situation. Examples include: serving multiple doors/entrances at a location, permitting persons in wheelchairs to ride without shoes on fixed route, adjusting service levels during trip booking or during the ride, and yet others. You may notice that I answered 0 to the question on reasonable modi- fication requests in 2017 because, to my knowledge we had none but that may perhaps be that we accom- modate a wide range of circumstances within our existing operations that people do not make requests. I’m speculating here a bit though. As will be discussed in the next chapter, most of the case examples similarly reported that they routinely make modifications as a part of regular customer service that may not be tracked as “reasonable modifications.”

Next: Chapter 4 - Case Examples »
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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 142: Implementing the U.S. DOT Reasonable Modification Rule provides an overview of the current state of practice regarding transit systems implementation of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) regulation 49 C.F.R Part 37.

The report describes the experiences of agencies as they make reasonable modifications to their practices and policies in order to both respond to the regulation and ensure service to people with disabilities. The report also includes case examples of six transit systems, which present an in-depth analysis of the issues, opportunities, challenges, lessons learned, and keys to success in implementation of reasonable modifications . The need for future research is also discussed.

Under the U.S. DOT regulations for implementing the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (49 C.F.R. Parts 37 and 27), transportation service providers and recipients of federal funding are required to ensure their services do not discriminate against people with disabilities.

In 2015, the U.S. DOT amended 49 C.F.R. Parts 27 and 37 to require transportation entities to make “reasonable modifications/accommodations to policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure that their programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities.” Effective July 13, 2015, 49 C.F.R. §37.169 of this final rule requires that public entity transit providers develop their own processes for making decisions and for providing reasonable modifications to their policies and practices.

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