Access Services Incorporated, Los Angeles, CA 2-27-01

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U.S. Department
of Transportation

    400 Seventh St. S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20590

Federal Transit
Administration
February 27, 2001

 

Re: FTA Complaint No. 99015

 

Dear (Name Withheld):

This letter responds to your complaint filed by (names withheld), on your behalf, regarding Access Services, Inc. (ASI) of Los Angeles, California, and its alleged noncompliance with 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.

In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze the complainant's allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If we identify what may be a violation, we first attempt to provide technical assistance to address it by assisting the transit provider to comply with the ADA. If FTA cannot resolve apparent violations of the ADA or the DOT ADA regulations by voluntary means, formal enforcement proceedings may be initiated against the public transportation provider which may result in the termination of Federal funds. FTA also may refer the matter to the U. S. Department of Justice for enforcement.

Because of the limitation in resources a majority of complaint investigations are conducted by telephone and written inquiry. In a few circumstances, where time and resources permit, investigations may be complemented by other means, such as compliance reviews or other on-site action. A finding of no violation of a particular allegation should be understood to apply specifically to the facts and circumstances at issue. Such a determination is not intended to express an opinion as to the overall ADA compliance of that transit property.

We understand your allegations to be as follows:

  1. ASIís telephone system keeps (names withheld), calling on your behalf, on hold for unreasonable long periods of time, up to 10 to 15 minutes at a time;
  2. ASI ADA paratransit drivers are consistently late for scheduled pick ups, leaving you waiting up to an hour outside, in extremely cold and extremely hot weather;
  3. On several occasions, ASI taxi drivers have attempted to charge a higher fare than the actual fare to ADA paratransit passengers; and
  4. ASI dispatchers treated you rudely and inappropriately.

We reviewed the information presented by you and Access Services, Inc. and made a determination based on our analysis of that information in relation to the DOT ADA regulations. We have restated your allegations followed by our determination below.

1.  Does ASIís telephone system that keeps you and your daughter on hold for unreasonably long periods of time, constitute a capacity constraints or a violation of section 37.167(f)?

The DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR part 37.167(f) states:

    The entity shall make available to individuals with disabilities adequate information concerning transportation services. This obligation includes making adequate communications capacity available, through accessible formats and technology, to enable users to obtain information and schedule service.

In addition, the DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR 37.131(f) states:

The entity shall not limit the availability of complementary paratransit service to ADA paratransit eligible individuals by any of the following: (1) Restrictions on the number of trips an individual will be provided; (2) Waiting lists for access to the service; or (3) Any operational pattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons.

During the investigation of this complaint, Western Law Center for Disability Rights filed a lawsuit against MTA, Nadine Flores, et al v Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, et al. This suit at page 20 alleges, among other issues, that "MTA and ASI, in their provision of complementary paratransit, have limited the availability of paratransit to ADA paratransit-eligible individuals by imposing capacity constraints". Lengthy telephone hold times often are an indicator of capacity constraints. As this issue is the subject of pending litigation, we will hold this portion of the complaint in abeyance pending the outcome of the litigation.

2.  Does ASIís on time performance where ADA paratransit drivers are consistently late for scheduled pick-ups, leaving you waiting up to an hour outside, in extremely cold and extremely hot weather, constitute a capacity constraint?

    The DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR 37.131(f) states:

    The entity shall not limit the availability of complementary paratransit service to ADA paratransit eligible individuals by any of the following: (1) Restrictions on the number of trips an individual will be provided; (2) Waiting lists for access to the service; or (3) Any operational pattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons. (I) Such patterns or practices include, but are not limited to, the following: (A) Substantial numbers of significantly untimely pickups for initial or return trips.

    During the investigation of this complaint, Western Law Center for Disability Rights filed a lawsuit against MTA, Nadine Flores, et al v Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, et al. This suit at page 20 alleges, among other issues, that "MTA and ASI, in their provision of complementary paratransit, have limited the availability of paratransit to ADA paratransit-eligible individuals by imposing capacity constraints". The allegations specifically include late pick-ups. As this issue is the subject of pending litigation, we will hold this portion of the complaint in abeyance pending the outcome of the litigation.

    3.  On several occasions, ASI taxi drivers have attempted to charge a higher fare than the actual fare to ADA paratransit passengers.

      The DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR part 37.131(c) and ( c ) (1) Fares, state:

      ( c )"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 (i.e., without regard to discounts) for a trip of similar length, at a similar time of day, on the entityís fixed route system. In calculating the full fare that would be paid by an individual using the fixed route system, the entity may include transfer and premium charges applicable to a trip of similar length, at a similar time of day, on the fixed route system.

      ( c ) (1) "In calculating the full fare that would be paid by an individual using the fixed route system, the entity may include transfer and premium charges applicable to a trip of similar length, at a similar time of day, on the fixed route system."

      This issue as to fare structure is under review and consideration by FTA and our response will be forthcoming.

      4.  ASI dispatchers treated you rudely and inappropriately.

      The DOT ADA regulation requires that transit providers educate personnel to work with persons with disabilities and with accessibility features. The regulation states at Section 37.173.

      Each public or private entity which operates a fixed route or demand responsive system shall ensure that personnel are trained to proficiency, as appropriate to their duties, so that they operate vehicles and equipment safely and properly assist and treat individuals with disabilities who use the service in a respectful and courteous way, with appropriate attention to the difference among individuals with disabilities.

      ASI reviewed all of the complaints you filed with them and report that the issue of rudeness was raised only once where you complained about an incident with a rude reservationist. This employee, because she has no prior history of reported rude conduct, was given a disciplinary warning.

      ASI provided documentation that it has a training program that meets the requirements of the DOT ADA regulation. ASI has a policy that any employee, whether internal or contracted, displaying a continued pattern or poor behavior will be terminated. ASI stated that passengers are encouraged to ask for the individualís name and file a complaint with the Customer Service Center for resolution. ASI stated that allegations of mistreatment by Access Paratransit drivers are taken very seriously.

      Information provided by ASI indicates that, this fiscal year, based on passengersí complaints and road observations 196 drivers were required to be retrained; 53 drivers were suspended from service for various period of time and were required to complete re-training before they are put back on the road; and, two drivers and two dispatchers were permanently removed from service. Also, ASIís paratransit providers, independent of ASIís direction, regularly remove and re-train drivers based on their own observations. Based on the foregoing, because ASI has promulgated a non-discrimination policy and has also demonstrated good faith efforts in implementing it, we do not find a violation of the ADA or of the DOTís implementing regulation.

      Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact Roger Peralta, at our toll free FTA ADA Assistance Line, 1-888-446-4511, or at his electronic mail address: roger.peralta@dot.gov.

       

      Sincerely,
      /signed/
      Cheryl L. Hershey
      ADA Group Leader
      Office of Civil Rights