Denton County Transportation Authority, Lewisville, TX, 09-11-07

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U.S. Department
of Transportation
Headquarters East Building, 5th Floor - TCR
1200 New Jersey Ave, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590
Federal Transit
Administration
September 11, 2007

Re: FTA Complaint Number 07-0198

     

Dear [name withheld]:

This letter responds to your complaint, filed with the Department of Justice in May 2007, against the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and/or the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring, which includes ensuring that providers of public transportation properly implement the ADA, the DOT ADA regulations, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Specifically, you complain that the fare for DCTA’s paratransit service has increased, making it too expensive for people with disabilities.  We have reviewed the information you provided and determined that the issue you raise is outside the jurisdiction of this office; therefore, we can take no further action.  While we appreciate the difficulty and inconvenience that can arise from higher fares, fare structures are determined at the local level and FTA is prohibited by the Federal Transit Laws, as codified under 49 U.S.C. § 5324(c) “Prohibitions Against Regulating Operations and Charges,” from becoming involved in local decisions regarding transit operations, unless there is a discriminatory practice.

The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR § 37.131(c) state that “the fare for a trip charged to an ADA paratransit eligible user of the complementary paratransit service shall not exceed twice the fare that would be charged to an individual paying full fare…for a trip of similar length, at a similar time of day, on the entity’s fixed route system.”  Because the fare for a fixed route bus trip on DCTA costs $1.25, a paratransit fare of $2.50 does not violate this regulation.

In our conversations last month, I explained this to you.  Since then, I have also communicated directly with DCTA regarding public information they had presented that suggested that this fare was mandated by the ADA.  In fact, $2.50 is the maximum amount that DCTA may charge, but they may to charge less if they choose.  Again, that is a local matter that FTA can not get involved in.  We understand your concern that the misinformation about this fare increase dissuaded some in the community who would otherwise object.  To the best of our understanding the document you provided, “Understanding the New Dial-A-Ride,” is a document circulated after the fare increase had already gone into effect.  DCTA has provided FTA with samples of their public involvement materials, including presentations materials from public hearings and a press release, as well as feedback from those public meetings.  All materials suggest that the fare increase was not presented as mandated by the ADA, but rather that it was necessary because of the increasing costs of the service to DCTA.

This concludes our processing of this matter and no further action will be taken.  If new information comes to your attention, please contact us.  While FTA’s decision in your case is administratively final, it does not prevent you from pursuing this matter at the local level or privately in the appropriate court.  If you have any questions regarding our determination, please contact me at (202) 366-4018 or at my e-mail address: david.knight@dot.gov.  Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention; I am sorry that we can not be of further assistance.


          

Sincerely,


David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights



cc:
 John O. Hedrick, DCTA President
 Dee Leggett, DCTA Vice President, Communications and Marketing
 Robert C. Patrick, FTA Region VI Administrator
 Lynn Hayes, FTA Region VI Community Planner
 William Jones, FTA Region VI Civil Rights Officer