Pace Suburban Bus Service of Arlington Heights, IL, 1-31-01

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U.S. Department
of Transportation

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

Federal Transit
Administration
January 31, 2001

 

Re: FTA Complaint No. 00-0324

Dear (Name Withheld):

This letter responds to your complaint against Pace Suburban Bus Service of Arlington Heights, Illinois, alleging noncompliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the 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 who 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, the majority 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.

The following is a synopsis of your description of an incident that occurred on July 28, 2000:

A Pace bus driver stopped the bus when your companion unfastened one of two securement devices from her wheelchair. The driver would not continue on the route until your companion allowed her wheelchair to be secured in two locations.

A stand-off ensued and the other passengers on the bus became threatening. The police were called for crowd control, and eventually the other passengers were loaded onto another bus while you and your companion were transported to your destination. During the remainder of the ride, your companion’s wheelchair was manually held in place by two police officers with her approval.

We have extracted what we understand to be the crux of your complaint and will address it below. We will not make any judgment on the incident itself, but rather will consider the use of wheelchair restraints on fixed route buses, which falls directly under the guidance of the DOT ADA regulations.

We informed Pace of your allegation and requested information relating to your complaint; reviewed the information presented by Pace and you; and made a determination based on our analysis of the compiled information in relation to the DOT ADA regulations. Our determination follows.

  • Under the DOT ADA regulations, does Pace have the right to refuse service to a person who uses a wheelchair if the passenger refuses to comply with Pace’s wheelchair securement policy?

The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR section 37.165(c)(3) allow the transit provider to establish a policy that requires all riders to allow their wheelchairs to be secured. It states, "The entity may require that an individual permit his or her wheelchair to be secured."

At the time of the incident, Pace had an established policy, dated July 31, 1998, that stated in Item No. 3:

All wheelchairs and other mobile assistive devices must be secured in the bus.

Item No. 4 described the method of securement:

Mobile assistive devices which are able to utilize the crabclaw must be secured on both sides. I.E., crabclaw and one red cargo strap or crabclaw and both red cargo straps. Straps and belts should not be wrapped or inserted through wheel spokes.

In September 2000, this office issued FTA ADA Information Bulletin #1 on securements, stating that a transit operator may require common wheelchairs to be secured where they have established such a policy. According to your statement and other documentation in your complaint file, your companion’s wheelchair was fastened in two places—on the right side with a crabclaw and on the left side with a cargo strap. We do not find Pace to be in violation of the DOT ADA regulations regarding this issue.

We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact Roberta Wolgast, Equal Opportunity Specialist, at our toll free FTA ADA Assistance Line, 1-888-446-4511, or at her electronic mail address: roberta.wolgast@dot.gov.

 

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