Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, TX, 12-04-07

U.S. Department
of Transportation
Headquarters East Building, 5th Floor - TCR
1200 New Jersey Ave, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590
Federal Transit
Administration
December 4, 2007

Re: FTA Complaint Number 04-0189

     

Dear [name withheld]:

This letter responds to your complaint against the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, (METRO) 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.

In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze the complainant's allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider.  If FTA identifies what may be a violation, we first attempt to provide technical assistance to assist the public transit provider in complying 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 transit 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.   

Each response is developed based on the specific facts and circumstances at issue.  A determination resulting from a review of these facts is not intended to express an opinion as to the overall ADA compliance of that transit system.

Specifically, your complaint of June 29, 2004, alleged that:

METRO’s ADA complementary paratransit service, METROLift, has capacity constraints, including untimely pickup.

We apologize for the delay in our response.  FTA investigated your allegations and sent an information request to METRO.  We received a response that was general in nature, but did speak to the quality of their service more recently. 

DOT’s ADA regulations at 49 CFR § 37.131(f)(3) prohibit any operational pattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons, including substantial numbers of significantly untimely pickups for initial or return trips, substantial numbers of trip denials or missed trips, or substantial numbers of trips with excessive trip lengths.

Your allegation submitted to FTA states that METROLift paratransit service has trip scheduling problems, resulting in untimely pickups in which drivers arrive excessively late.  In METRO’s response, they highlight significant increases to service over the past three years, including a service area expansion of 120 square miles and a 10 percent increase in passenger trips.  They have implemented new technologies and extended reservation and operating hours.

Moreover, METRO adds that with the introduction of M.A.C.S. (METROLift’s Automated Call System), customers may now call and get their scheduled pickup times and their driver’s estimated time of arrival.  If the driver’s estimated time of arrival is more than 15 minutes past the scheduled pickup time, then METRO asks the customer to press “0” to speak with a dispatcher who will then review the trip information.

Please know that we take compliance of ADA complementary paratransit services like METROLift seriously.  In April of 2006 FTA conducted a comprehensive triennial review of METRO, which included a review of the METROLift service.  One result of that review was the requirement that METROLift Extend their reservation and operating hours.

Given that your complaint was general in nature and included only one specific example of a late trip, and in light of METRO’s response and the results of FTA’s triennial review, we do not find METRO to be deficient at this time.  For this reason we are closing your complaint.  If new or additional information comes to your attention, or if you are currently having service problems, please contact us.  FTA’s decision not to proceed at this time does not prevent you from pursuing it at the local level or privately in the appropriate court.  If you have any questions regarding our determination, please contact myself for Donna R. Walton, Ed.D., at (202) 366-4018 or at her e-mail address: donna.walton@dot.gov.  Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. 


          

Sincerely,


David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights



cc:
 Frank J. Wilson, METRO President & CEO
 Paula J. Alexander, METRO General Counsel
 Robert C. Patrick, FTA Region VI Administrator 
 William Jones, FTA Region VI Civil Rights Officer