Author: David Wolowitz & Michael O'Connor, Prairie State Legal Services
Last updated: November 2002
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): Title II, Subpart B (42 U.S.C. §§ 12141-12163).
What Is It? Title II, Subpart B of the ADA prohibits discrimination in transportation services on the basis of disability. Even where paratransit services are available, this law gives you the right of access to a provider's transportation service for the general public, as long as you are capable of using that service. This is true even if you take longer or have more difficulty than other persons using the service.
What Is Its Purpose? To require certain services for persons with disabilities by both public and private transportation providers. To require that vehicles, stations, and other transportation facilities be accessible. To impose rules for paratransit service for those persons with disabilities unable to use fixed route transportation systems. (Your rights to "paratransit" services are covered in Section 2 of this Chapter.)
Who Can Benefit? Any person with a disability who uses or wants to use certain transportation services provided by a public or private provider.
Do You Have A Disability Under Title II, Subpart B of the ADA?
The way to determine whether you have a disability for purposes of the ADA is explained in the section of this Guidebook titled "Who Has a Disability Under the ADA?" in Chapter 1, General Considerations.
Your Rights: In General
The ADA requires that no public or private entity discriminate against you because of your disability in connection with transportation services provided by that entity. You have the right to use the transportation service provided for the general public, even if it takes you longer, and even if you have more difficulty than other persons using the service.
The rules under this part of the ADA prohibit discrimination in the following kinds of transportation services: taxis, buses, commuter railroads, Amtrak, high speed rail, shuttles, van-pools, streetcars, subways, and elevated trains.
The rules under Title II, Subpart B of the ADA do not apply to aircraft or airports or to school buses.
The Rules Apply to Certain Kinds of Transportation Entities
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has published regulations explaining the ADA requirements relating to transportation services for persons with disabilities. They apply only to the following entities, whether or not they receive federal funding from DOT:
Any "public entity" that provides:
Any "private entity" that:
- A "public entity" means any state or local government, or their departments or agencies. This includes Amtrak and other commuter rail authorities.
- A "private entity" means any kind of entity that is not a public entity, such as a private taxi or shuttle service.
- "Designated transportation" means transportation provided by a public entity by bus, rail, and other conveyances that provide the general public with regular transportation service. (This term could include streetcars, subways and elevated trains, but does not include the following two definitions).
- "Intercity rail transportation" means transportation provided by Amtrak.
- "Commuter rail transportation" means short-trip passenger service operating in metropolitan and suburban areas, usually for commuters, to and from work. It usually offers multiple-ride tickets and has morning and evening peak period operations. Example: Metra.
- "Specified public transportation" means transportation by bus, rail, or any other conveyance (except aircraft) provided by a private entity to the general public on a regular basis.
- A "fixed route" system means a transportation system on which a vehicle is operated along a customary route according to a fixed schedule.
- A "demand responsive" system means any system of transportation which is not fixed route. It generally requires you to make a phone call to get a ride.
Private Entities Must Comply With Both the DOT and "Public Accommodations" Regulations
Private entities that are primarily engaged in the business of transporting people and whose operations affect commerce cannot discriminate against you in the full and equal enjoyment of "specified transportation services."
Those entities must not only comply with the DOT regulations, but also the public accommodation regulations of the Department of Justice (DOJ) under Title III of the ADA . (See the section of this Guidebook titled "Places of Public Accommodation" in Chapter 2, Access to Services, Programs and Activities.) Those rules are discussed below and concern:
If there is any inconsistency between the DOT regulations and the DOJ regulations, the DOT regulations will prevail.
Taxi Service By Private Entities
Private entities which provide taxi service cannot discriminate against you. This means they cannot:
(1) It would be discrimination to pass up a passenger because he or she was blind or used a wheelchair, if the wheelchair was one that could be stowed in the cab and the passenger could transfer to a vehicle seat.
(2) A taxi company cannot insist that a wheelchair user wait for a lift-equipped van if the person could use a taxi cab.
You Do Not Have To Sit In Designated Priority Seats
Under the ADA, you never have to accept an accommodation or service which you choose not to accept. No transportation provider can force you to use "designated priority seats." Those are the so-called elderly and handicapped seats that you see near the entrances to buses. If you choose not to use those seats, you can sit in any available seat that is for the general public, as long as you are capable of doing so.
Special Charges Are Illegal
An entity cannot make you pay a for services as people with disabilities are supposed to be able to ride transit for free.
Service Cannot Be Denied Based On the Entity's Insurance Coverage or Rates
An entity cannot refuse to serve you because its insurance company conditions coverage or rates on not serving persons with disabilities.
Assume an insurance company told a transit provider that it would withdraw coverage, or raise rates, unless the transit provider refused to carry persons with disabilities. This would not excuse the provider from providing the service.
Denial of Service Due to Appearance or Involuntary Behavior
An entity cannot refuse to provide service to you just because your disability causes you to look or act in a certain way that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience other persons.
Some persons with Tourette's syndrome may make involuntary profane exclamations. These may be very annoying or offensive to others, but are not a basis for denial of service.
However, it is not discrimination for an entity to refuse to provide service to you if you engage in violent, seriously disruptive, or illegal conduct.
Service Cannot Be Denied on the Basis of Fear or Misinformation
It violates the ADA for a transit provider to deny transportation services because it has unfounded fears or misguided beliefs about a disability.
A transit provider cannot deny service to a person with HIV because its personnel or other passengers are afraid of being near people with that condition.
An Attendant Cannot Be Required Unless Necessary
An entity cannot require that you be accompanied by an attendant, unless that is necessary to allow you to use the service. Also, an entity can require an attendant if that is necessary to control disruptive behavior by a person with disabilities.
Lift and Securement of Wheelchairs
Both public and private entities must transport all common wheelchairs and their users. However, the entity is required to do this only where there are "designated securement locations" in the vehicle. That means there is a place where the wheelchair can be safely secured or restrained in a way that it does not block an aisle or obstruct another person's passage. A vehicle is not required to pick up a wheelchair user when the securement locations are full.
All entities with vehicles carrying wheelchair users must have a securement system. The system must be adequate to secure the wheelchair. The entity cannot deny transportation to a wheelchair or its user because the wheelchair cannot be secured or restrained properly by the vehicle's securement system.
Certain vehicles must be in compliance with the ADA Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles. Public and private entities using those vehicles must use the securement system as provided in those specifications.
Other vehicles transporting persons who use wheelchairs do not have to comply with the ADA Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles. Those other vehicles must still provide and use a securement system and the entity must use its best efforts to restrain or confine the wheelchair to the securement area.
If you do not let your wheelchair be secured, the entity can deny you transportation.
If you use a wheelchair, entities may recommend that you transfer to a regular seat and may provide information on the risks of not transferring. The entity cannot require you to transfer; you get to make the final decision.
When you need help or when you request it, the employees of the entities must assist you to use their securement systems, ramps and lifts. If it is necessary for the employee to leave his seat to provide this assistance, he must do so.
(1) The driver must manage the lift properly and safely. If you cannot use the lift independently, the driver must assist you.
(2) On a vehicle which uses a ramp for entry, the driver may have to assist in pushing a wheelchair up the ramp, particularly where the ramp slope is steep.
Wheelchair users, especially those using electric wheelchairs, often have a preference for entering a lift platform and vehicle in a particular direction. For example, some prefer backing on and others prefer going on front first. Unless there is a safety issue that requires one way of doing this, the transit provider should respect the passenger's preference.
How Stops Should Be Announced
In a "fixed route" system, a vehicle runs on a standard route according to a fixed schedule. This means that it has regular stops. In such a system, both public and private entities must announce their stops. This must be done:
In addition, the entity must announce a particular stop whenever you request that it do so.
The announcement can be made personally by the vehicle operator or can be made by a recording system. The entity must use a public address (P.A.) system, unless the vehicle is small enough so that the operator can make himself or herself heard without one.
Persons With a Visual Impairment Getting On The Right Vehicle
If you have a visual impairment, you need to make sure that you get on the right vehicle on the right route. Sometimes, vehicles from different routes may serve the same stop or station. In that case, both public and private entities must provide a way for you to identify the proper vehicle to enter. In the alternative, they can use ways for the vehicle operator to know which route you need. This prevents a person with a visual impairment from having to ask every driver whether the bus is the right one.
(1) Some entities have used external speakers.
(2) Some transit providers have used colored mitts, or numbered cards, to allow passengers to inform drivers of the correct route they want to use.
Service Animals Must Be Permitted
You have the right to be accompanied by your service animal in transportation vehicles and facilities.
A "service animal" is any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. This includes:
- Guiding those with impaired vision;
- Alerting those with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds;
- Providing minimal protection or rescue work;
- Pulling a wheelchair; or
- Fetching dropped items.
Note: Service animals are not limited just to guide dogs for persons with visual impairments. Dogs are trained to assist people with a wide variety of disabilities, including persons with hearing and mobility impairments. Other animals (for example, monkeys) are sometimes used as service animals, too.
Adequate Information About Transportation Services
Public and private entities have an obligation to make available adequate information concerning their transportation services. The transit provider must convey this information, where necessary, through accessible formats and technology. This might include Braille, large print, and TTYs. You must be able to obtain information and schedule service, regardless of the nature of your disability.
Example: If there is only one phone line on which you can reserve paratransit trips, and the line is chronically busy, the provider is violating the ADA because you cannot schedule service.
You Can Get Off At Any Stop, Unless Unsafe
The provider may not declare a regular stop to be "off limits" to persons with disabilities. As a rule, no entity can refuse to permit a passenger who uses a lift to get off a vehicle at any designated stop. The only exceptions are where the passenger needs a lift, and:
Persons With a Respirator or Portable Oxygen Supply
You have the right to travel with a respirator or portable oxygen supply, although there are some DOT rules which limit the transportation of hazardous materials (49 CFR Subtitle B, Chapter 1, Subchapter C).
You Must Be Given Adequate Time To Get On and Get Off
Both public and private entities must give you adequate time to get on and get off the vehicle. This rule recognizes that persons with disabilities may move more slowly through crowds in the vehicle or platform than other persons.
An Entity May Have To Request That Other Passengers Vacate Priority Seating When Necessary
You may need to sit in a priority seat or occupy a wheelchair securement location, but those places are already occupied. In that case, the entity must ask persons who are already seated there to move (unless they too are elderly or have a disability).
On a train or streetcar, an entity does not have to ask persons to move, when that is not practical.
Example: If the only employee aboard the train is in the front car, the employee will not be in a position to see who is sitting in a priority seat in the third car in the train, let alone ask someone to move from it. However, if there are conductors present in the passenger compartments, they would make the request when they saw a situation calling for it.
If the person will not move when requested, the entity is not required to force them to move.
Signs. In certain vehicles, there must be signs at designated priority seating areas, or at designated wheelchair securement areas. These signs should inform persons sitting in these locations that they should comply with requests to move to make room for a person with a disability. This requirement applies to all "fixed route" vehicles when they are first acquired by the entity. It also applies whenever an existing vehicle in a "fixed route" replaces its signs. If you have a hidden disability and want the driver to ask someone to make room for use of a priority seat, you should tell the driver about the disability.
There are special rules for "Over-the-road buses" (OTRB). An over-the-road bus is a "Greyhound" type that has an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment. These buses are usually for extended travel from city to city or state to state.
Over-the-road buses acquired by public entities, or by a contractor to a public entity, must have a lift. The lift must meet certain performance requirements specified in the regulations.
A private entity must give you help, as needed, in getting on and off the OTRB. This includes help moving to and from the bus seat. Although carrying not favored, there may be times when carrying is the only available means of providing access to an OTRB.
The entity operating an OTRB may require up to 48 hours advance notice to provide boarding assistance. If you do not provide such notice, the entity must still provide the service if it can do so by making a reasonable effort, without delaying the bus service. Entities should not ask for advance notice in all cases, but only in those cases in which it is really needed, as when extra staffing is required.
There also are accommodation requirements for OTRB. The entity must allow you to keep wheelchairs or other mobility aids and assistive devices in the passenger compartment of the bus, when this can be accommodated. When the bus is at rest at a stop, the driver or other personnel must help you with the stowage and retrieval of mobility aids, assistive devices, or other items that are stored in the passenger compartment.
An entity must store wheelchairs and other mobility aids or assistive devices (including electric wheelchairs) in the baggage compartment of the bus, if they cannot be accommodated in the passenger compartment, unless the size of the baggage compartment is too small.
At any stop, the entity must allow you to stow your wheelchair, or other mobility aids or assistive devices in the baggage compartment before other baggage or cargo is loaded. The entity does not have to off-load baggage or cargo already on the bus in order to make room for such devices. Your luggage does not have any priority over other luggage.
You have the right to be able to use and have access to the "facility" of a public entity that provides "designated public transportation service." This includes a bus station or a station for a subway or elevated train. It also includes the area outside the station, and any inside part of the building.
The term "facility" means any part of a building, structure or complex, or any equipment, road, walk, passageway, parking lot, or any other property, including the site where the building or equipment is located.
If the facility of a public entity providing designated public transportation is not readily accessible to you and usable by you, the public entity is guilty of illegal discrimination.
Examples of ways a facility can be accessible: user-friendly farecards, schedules available in alternative formats, edge detection on rail platforms, adequate lighting, text telephones, signage for people with visual impairments, continuous pathways for persons with visual and ambulatory impairments, and public address systems.
Guidelines for Making Facilities "Readily Accessible To" and "Usable By" Persons with Disabilities
A transportation facility will be considered to be readily accessible to, and usable by persons with disabilities ifit satisfies the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for Buildings and Facilities.
A facility is allowed to deviate from the particular requirements of the ADAAG by the use of other designs and technologies. This is called "equivalent facilitation." This is permitted where the alternative designs and technologies used will provide equal or better access to and use of the facility.
Structural Changes To Make Existing Facilities Accessible to Persons in Wheelchairs
In general, a public entity is not required to make structural changes to "existing facilities" in order to make them accessible to persons who use wheelchairs. However, when alterations are made to existing facilities (see below), they must be made accessible to persons in wheelchairs. Also, key stations (see below) must be accessible to persons in wheelchairs.
Alterations to Facilities By Public Entities
Whenever a public entity makes alterations to any part of an existing facility used for transportation, the alterations must be accessible to you and usable by all persons with disabilities.
An "alteration" is a change to the structure of an existing facility, including remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and restoration.
A public entity discriminates when it makes alterations in a way that they are not readily accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes persons who use wheelchairs.
A public entity also discriminates when it changes the way its facility operates, but those changes make the services of the facility inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Example: A transit authority had to keep some human ticket clerks because the ticket vending machines were not usable by persons who are blind or visually impaired.
Accessible "Path of Travel" to Certain Altered Areas of a Facility
When a public entity makes an alteration that affects access to an area of a facility containing a "primary function," the entity must make the "path of travel" to the altered area accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes persons who use wheelchairs.
A "primary function" is a major activity for which the facility is intended.
Examples of Primary Function Areas:
The path of travel includes all parts of the facility needed to get to and from the altered area. It also includes the paths to the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area. All such paths must be accessible whenever the alteration is to a primary function area. An accessible "path of travel" may include:
The facility does not have to make the path of travel to the altered area accessible if the cost to make it accessible would be "disproportionate." This means that the costs of making the path of travel accessible are more than 20% of the cost of the alteration to the "primary function" area, itself. When that happens, then as much of the path of travel as possible should be made accessible, without going over the 20% limit.
Key Train Stations
You have the right of access to "key stations" in streetcar systems, subway and elevated train systems, Amtrak stations, and commuter train stations. Entities must make such key stations accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes persons who use wheelchairs.
If you do not have access to a key station or cannot use it, you have been a victim of illegal discrimination.
Key stations in streetcar systems, subway and elevated train systems, and commuter train stations should have become accessible by July 23, 1993, unless the entity obtained an extension from the DOT. Key stations for Amtrak have until July 26, 2010, to become accessible.
Construction of New Facilities by a Public Entity
Whenever a public entity constructs a new transportation facility, it must do so in a way that is readily accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes persons who use wheelchairs. Otherwise, it is unlawful discrimination.
A streetcar or bus station, or a subway or elevated train station is "new" if its construction began after January 25, 1992. An Amtrak or commuter rail station is "new" if construction began after October 7, 1991.
If a private transportation facility or station is a "public accommodation," it is prohibited from discrimination against persons with disabilities. This requires access to the facilities providing the service. See the section of this Guidebook entitled "Places of Public Accommodation" in Chapter 2, Access to Services, Programs and Activities.
In addition, private entities must install an elevator in any terminal, depot, or other station used for "specified public transportation," whenever there is new construction or alterations made to an existing facility.
Certain places of public accommodation have an exemption, meaning that they do not have to put in an elevator. That exemption does not apply to transportation facilities.
When a new facility is constructed by a private entity, certain common areas open to the public must be on an accessible route from an accessible entrance. These areas include where passengers get on or get off vehicles, loading and unloading areas, baggage claim, and dining facilities.
Not only must transportation entities make their facilities be accessible, but they must make their vehicles accessible, as well.
A "vehicle" is any conveyance used for public transportation, including buses, shuttles, trains and taxis, except that the term does not include rail passenger cars when it is applied to private entities.
A vehicle will be considered to be readily accessible to you if:
A vehicle is sometimes allowed to deviate from the requirements of those standards. An entity can use alternative designs and technologies that provide the same or greater access to the vehicle than do the standards in the regulations. This is called "equivalent facilitation" and is permitted only if approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) or the Federal Railroad Administrator, as applicable.
Example: If rail cars leave too wide a horizontal gap between the door and the platform, the FTA may permit an operator to use a combination of bridge plates and personnel to bridge the gap.
A public entity providing train service must have at least one car on each train that is readily accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes persons who use wheelchairs. Any entity which violates the "one car per train" rule is guilty of discrimination.
This rule applies to streetcar, subway or elevated trains and to Amtrak and commuter rail systems. The rule does not apply if the train consists of only one car.
Removal of Barriers in Vehicle By a Public Accommodation
In the context of transportation, a "public accommodation" is a private entity that provides transportation services to the general public. These entities must remove transportation barriers that are present in existing vehicles and rail passenger cars.
There is one major exception to this rule, and that is where the removal of the barrier is not "readily achievable."
Example: If the barrier can only be removed by installing a lift, the barrier does not have to be removed if the lift is not "readily achievable."
For a discussion of barrier removal in public accommodations, see the section of this Guidebook titled "Places of Public Accommodation," in Chapter 2, Access to Services, Programs and Activities.
New Buses and New Non-Rail Vehicles Must Be Accessible
An entity which buys or leases a new bus or other non-rail vehicle for use in its transportation system must make sure that the new vehicle is accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes persons who use wheelchairs.
The "Equivalent Service" exception: There is an exception to this rule for "demand responsive" transportation systems. These systems are allowed to purchase some new vehicles that are not accessible, provided that the system, when viewed in its entirety, provides a level of service to persons with disabilities that is "equivalent" to the level of service it provides to persons without disabilities.
Example: A vanpool system does not have to make sure all of its new vans are accessible as long as it can promptly provide an accessible van to a person with a disability whenever requested.
The level of service is not "equivalent" if there is any difference in response time, fares, geographic area of service, hours or days of service, or availability in other ways.
Example: Suppose there is a long delay between the time that you call for a ride and your pick-up, because the entity must then specially install a lift or ramp or other accommodation to access the vehicle. In this case, the service is not "equivalent" and the entity would not be excused from having an inaccessible vehicle.
The exception for private cars, OTRB, and small vans: The access requirement for new vehicles does not apply to a private car, a private over-the road bus, or a private van with a seating capacity of less than eight persons, including the driver. An entity buying or lea sing such a small van after February 25, 1992, must make sure either that the van is accessible to persons with disabilities, or that their system, when viewed in its entirety meets the standard for "equivalent service."
The "Waiver" exception: A public entity can purchase or lease new buses or streetcar, subway or elevated cars that are not accessible, if it applies for and obtains a waiver from the FTA. The purpose of the waiver is to address a situation where there are not a sufficient number of lift-equipped vehicles available to buy.
If the FTA grants a waiver, the waiver will be in effect for only a short period of time, i.e., until lifts become available for installation on the new buses.
Any bus which is purchased by an entity in reliance on the waiver must be capable of accepting a lift, and the public entity must install a lift as soon as one becomes available.
Any new rail passenger car must be accessible if it is purchased or leased by Amtrak, or any commuter rail system or other private entity that is primarily in the business of transporting people. This means the new car must be accessible to all persons with disabilities, including persons who use wheelchairs. If it is not accessible, it is illegal discrimination.
Accessibility rules for new Amtrak single-level passenger coaches.
To be "accessible," a new Amtrak passenger car must:
Accessibility rules for new commuter rail passenger cars.
For new commuter rail cars, there is no requirement for:
Accessibility rules for new bi-level Amtrak dining cars.
These cars are not required to:
Any used vehicle (including rail passenger cars) must be readily accessible to persons with disabilities if it is purchased or leased by a public entity which runs a "fixed route" system, including a bus, streetcar, subway or elevated train system, or Amtrak or any commuter rail authority. This means the used vehicle must be accessible to all persons with disabilities, including persons who use wheelchairs. If it is not accessible, it is illegal discrimination.
Good faith effort exception: An entity is allowed to purchase or lease a used vehicle that is not readily accessible, if it makes a "good faith effort" to purchase or lease an accessible used vehicle or used rail passenger car, but is unable to do so.
Good faith efforts must include at least the following steps:
Public entities must keep documentation of the specific good faith efforts it made for 3 years from the date the inaccessible vehicles were purchased.
There are special access rules for re-manufactured vehicles.
A "re-manufactured vehicle" is a vehicle which has been structurally restored and has had new or rebuilt major components installed to extend its service life.
Example: An engine overhaul which does not extend the total useful life of the vehicle would not be considered a re-manufacture of the vehicle.
It is unlawful discrimination for a public entity which runs a "fixed route" system to purchase, lease or operate a re-manufactured bus, streetcar, or subway or elevated train vehicle, unless the vehicle is accessible to people with disabilities after the re-manufacture. However, the vehicle does not have to be made accessible if the re-manufacture is intended to only extend its usable life for less than 5 years.
There is a similar rule for Amtrak, commuter rail authorities and any private entity that is engaged primarily in the business of transporting people. However, for these entities, the vehicle does not have to be made accessible if the re-manufacture is intended to only extend its usable life for less than 10 years.
Wheelchair Locations on Amtrak Single-Level Passenger Coaches and Food Service Cars
On each train that has one or more single-level rail passenger coaches, Amtrak must have a certain number of spaces t
For each of the above two groups, the number of spaces must be equal to or greater than one half the number of single- level rail passenger coaches in the train.
By July 26, 2000, the number of spaces for each group must be equal to or greater than the total number of single-level rail passenger coaches in the train.
Amtrak may place these wheelchair locations in single-level passenger coaches or food service cars. However, Amtrak may not provide more than two spaces to park wheelchairs, nor more than two spaces to fold and store wheelchairs, in any one coach or food service car.
Restroom and Boarding Rules on Amtrak Single-Level Passenger Coaches or Food Service Cars
Whenever wheelchair location spaces are required on Amtrak's single-level passenger cars and food service cars, there must be a restroom on those cars usable by a person who uses a wheelchair. The restroom must be able to be entered from the station platform by a person who uses a wheelchair.
Equivalent Food Service on Amtrak For Persons With Disabilities
Table Service on single-level dining cars. Amtrak sometimes must provide table service in the dining car to a passenger who uses a wheelchair. On those trains purchased after July 26, 1990 and which use a single-level dining car to provide food service, Amtrak must provide table service to a passenger whouses a wheelchair, if all three of the following are true:
Unless its not practical, Amtrak must place an accessible car next to the end of a dining car through which a person who uses a wheelchair may enter.
Appropriate Auxiliary Aids and Services. On any Amtrak train in which a single-level or bi-level dining car is used to provide food service, Amtrak must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to make sure that equivalent food service is available to you and to passengers traveling with you.
Example: Amtrak may have to provide a hard surface on which to eat at your seat.
Table Service on bi-level dining cars. On any Amtrak train in which a bi-level dining car is used to provide food service, table service in the lounge car must be provided to persons who use wheelchairs and to other passengers, if the train includes a bi-level lounge car purchased after July 26, 1990.
Some private operations provide transportation for its users, customers, or employees, even though they are not primarily in the business of transporting people.
(1) A private zoo may provide a "zoo train" for its patrons that travels on a fixed route around the zoo.
(2) A hotel may provide airport shuttle van service.
(3) An employer may provide transportation for employees to and from its office and the train station.
Private Entities Not Primarily in the Business of Transporting People Running a "Demand Responsive" System
A private entity not primarily engaged in the business of transporting people, and which operates a "demand responsive system," must make sure that, over-all, it provides "equivalent service" to persons with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, as it does to those without disabilities.
"Equivalent service" means that the system is the same for everyone, as to:
This requirement may force some private entities to arrange to get accessible vehicles. They can do this either by acquiring their own accessible vehicles or by coordinating with other providers.
If the private entity is a "public accommodation," it must make sure that any vehicle it purchases or leases after August 25, 1990, is accessible to persons with disabilities. This includes persons who use wheelchairs. See the section of this guidebook titled "Places of Public Accommodation" in Chapter 2, Access to Services, Programs and Activities.
If it is not a public accommodation, then any particular vehicle purchased or leased after August 25, 1990, does not have to be accessible to persons with disabilities, as long as the system, when viewed in its entirety, meets the standard for "equivalent service."
If a private entity is not primarily in the business of transporting people and operates a "fixed route" system, some of its vehicles must be accessible. Any vehicle purchased or leased after August 25, 1990, with a seating capacity of over16 passengers, including the driver, must be accessible to persons with disabilities, including persons who use wheelchairs.
When the vehicle has a seating capacity of 16 or fewer passengers, including the driver, it still must be accessible, if the entity purchasing or leasing it is a "public accommodation."
If the entity is not a public accommo-dation, a particular vehicle with this lesser seating capacity does not have to be accessible, as long as the system, when viewed in its entirety, meets the standard for "equivalent service."
Your rights have been violated if you are a person with a disability who uses or wants to use:
•Taxis discriminate against you on the basis of your disability by refusing to provide you service, or refusing to help stow your wheelchair, or charging you higher fares.
•You are forced to use designated "priority seats" that you do not want to sit in.
•You are forced to pay a special charge for accommodations given to you.
•You are denied transportation because an entity claims their insurance prohibits it.
•You are denied transportation because other persons are offended by ways that your disability causes you to look or to act.
•You are denied transportation because the provider has unfounded fears or misguided beliefs about your disability.
•You are required to have an attendant, where one is not necessary.
•A transit provider with vehicles carrying wheelchair users does not have a proper securement system, or fails to provided needed assistance with their securement systems, ramps, or lifts.
•A provider operating a fixed route system fails to properly announce your stop.
•You are a person with a visual impairment, and the provider has failed to use methods that will enable you to make sure you are getting on the correct bus or other vehicle, and on the correct route.
•You are denied the right to be accompanied by your service animal.
•Information about transportation services and schedules has not been provided in accessible formats, such as Braille, large print, and TTY's.
•You are not allowed to get off at a regular stop because of your disability, unless it is unsafe.
•You are denied the right to travel with a respirator or portable oxygen supply.
•You are not given adequate time to get on or get off a vehicle. The provider fails to request that passengers who are not elderly or do not have disabilities vacate priority seating, if you need to sit there.
•Over-the-road-buses (OTRB) do not have a proper lift, or fail to give you assistance getting on and off the bus, or to your seat; or, OTRB's do not allow wheel-chairs in the passenger compartment, if they can be accommodated there, or fail to help you with the chair's stowage and retrieval.
•A station, depot, or terminal, or any other part of the facility of a public entity that provides "designated public transportation" is not accessible to you.
•An alteration is made to a station, depot, or terminal, or any other part of the facility of a public entity that provides "designated public transportation" or Amtrak service, or commuter rail service, and the alteration is not accessible to you.
•An alteration is made to an area of the facility that contains a "primary function," and the path of travel to the primary function area is not accessible; or, the path of travel to the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the primary function area is not accessible.
•You are denied the right of access to a station that has been identified as a "key station" in streetcar systems, subway and elevated train systems, Amtrak or commuter train stations.
•You are denied the right of access to any new facility constructed by a public entity for "designated public transportation" or for Amtrak service or for commuter rail transportation.
•A privately owned station, depot, or terminal or other facility that is a place of public accommodation is not accessible to you.
•A private entity fails to install an elevator in its station, depot, terminal or other facility whenever a new facility is constructed or when alterations are made to an existing facility.
•A public entity fails to have at least one accessible car on each train.
•A private entity which provides transportation services to the general public fails to remove transportation barriers that are present on its vehicles, unless removal of the barrier would not be readily achievable.
•Any new bus or new non-rail vehicle that is purchased or leased by a provider is not accessible to you, unless an exception applies that allows it to be inaccessible.
•Any new rail passenger car purchased or leased by Amtrak or by a commuter rail system is not accessible to you, unless the way it is not accessible is allowed by rules.
•Used vehicles purchased or leased by a public entity running a "fixed route" system, or used rail passenger cars purchased or leased by Amtrak or any commuter rail authority, are not accessible to you.
•Certain re-manufactured vehicles or rail cars are not accessible to you after they have been re-manufactured. (This depends on the number of years of extended life for the vehicle or rail car that were intended by the re-manufacture.)
•Amtrak fails to meet its special accessibility requirements regarding wheelchair locations, restrooms, food service, and auxiliary aids and services.
•A private entity which is a "public accommodation" purchases or leases a new vehicle that is inaccessible to you.
•A private entity which is not a "public accommodation" fails to make sure that its transportation services provide "equivalent service" to you, when the system is viewed in its entirety.
•A private entity that is not primarily in the business of transporting people, but which runs a "demand responsive" system, fails to make sure that the system provides "equivalent service" to you, when the system is viewed in its entirety.
•A private entity which is not primarily in the business of transporting people, but which runs a "fixed route" system, purchases or leases a new vehicle that is not accessible to you, if the vehicle has a seating capacity of over 16 people.
DOT Authority over Entities That Receive Federal Funds
If a public or private entity receives federal funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT), and it violates your rights under the transportation title of the ADA (Title II, Subpart B), you can file a complaint with the DOT. In that case, DOT will apply regulations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
When the DOT receives a complaint, it will investigate the complaint, and will attempt conciliation. Conciliation means efforts to help the parties reach an agreement. If conciliation is not possible, DOT will take action under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and/or refer the matter to the Department of Justice for possible further action.
See our discussion about how to protect and enforce your rights under the Section 504 regulations in the section of this Guidebook titled "How to Protect or Enforce Your Rights Under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act" in Chapter 1, General Considerations.
Note: The DOT is more concerned with pattern or practice kinds of problems, rather than isolated errors.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Has Exclusive Jurisdiction Over Private Entities Providing Transportation Services for Persons with Disabilities
Private transportation providers are "public accommodations" and thus, they are subject to Title III, the public accommodations title of the ADA. In the Title III regulations, the Department of Justice (DOJ) assumes enforcement responsibility for all Title III matters involving private entities. If the DOT receives complaints of regulatory violations by private entities, it will refer the matters to the DOJ.
When DOJ gets a complaint, they will undertake an investigation for possible violations. If DOJ determines that your rights have been violated, they are responsible for enforcing the regulations. There is no right to a hearing at DOJ. See the section of this guidebook titled "Places of Public Accommodation" in Chapter 2, Access to Services, Programs and Activities.
Alternative Means of Dispute Resolution Are Encouraged
Where appropriate and to the extent authorized by law, federal agencies encourage the use of alternative methods of dispute resolution to resolve disputes arising under the ADA. These methods include settlement negotiations, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, fact-finding, mini-trials, and arbitration.
You Can File a Private Lawsuit Without Using Administrative Remedies
You have a private right to file a lawsuit against entities who violate the ADA and its implementing regulations. You can complain to the DOT about an alleged transportation violation and go to court at the same time. You do not have to complain to DOT or DOJ or wait until the administrative enforcement procedures are completed before filing your own lawsuit.
In any lawsuit or administrative proceeding based on violations of the ADA, the court or agency, in its discretion, may allow you a reasonable attorney's fee, if you win. This includes litigation expenses and costs.
Class A Misdemeanor
Illinois has a law called the "White Cane Law." Under this law, all persons who are blind or have visual impairments or hearing impairments or other physical disabilities are entitled to full and equal use of all public conveyances or modes of transportation. This includes all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, street cars, or boats.
Any person, firm or corporation who interferes with these rights is guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor, a crime.
The federal ADA regulations regarding public accommodations that provide transportation services can be found at 28 CFR Part 36
The federal ADA regulations regarding transportation services for persons with disabilities can be found at 49 CFR Part 37. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for Buildings and Facilities can be found at 49 CFR Part 37, Appendix A.
The federal ADA regulations regarding the ADA accessibility specifications for transportation vehicles can be found at 49 CFR Part 38.
The federal ADA regulations setting out the requirements of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on transportation for elderly and handicapped persons can be found at 49 CFR Part 609.
The U.S. Department of justice provides an information line regarding the ADA. You can access that information at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/infoline.htm
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