City of Winchester Department of Transportation, Winchester, VA, 12-21-05

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 21, 2005

Gary Lofton
City of Winchester
Department of Transportation
301 East Cork Street
Winchester, Virginia 22601  

Dear Mr. Lofton:

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights held a telephone conference call with you, in October, 2005, regarding the complaint filed by [name withheld], Winchester, Virginia. We discussed the obligation of the City of Winchester Department of Transportation to provide transportation to persons with disabilities who live outside its political jurisdiction, but within the ADA Paratransit service area. You requested a written summary of that discussion. As such, this provides a chronology of the complaint, and confirmation of the discussion of that telephone call.  The Office of Civil Rights has the responsibility for ensuring that providers of public transportation properly implement the ADA, the DOT ADA regulations, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

In April, 2005, [name withheld] contacted this office to indicate that she and her husband were eligible riders of the City of Winchester’s ADA Complementary Paratransit service that serves persons with disabilities.  However, due to the [name withheld]’s moving from the city to Frederick County, she said they were notified that because they now live in the county, the city was not required to provide them with ADA paratransit service.  [name withheld] pointed out that while their home was in county, they live within a three-fourth mile corridor of one of the city’s fixed bus routes.  She contended this meant they should continue to receive ADA service. 

On May 10, 2005, Akira Sano contacted you to notify you of the complaint.  You were advised that the [name withheld]’s complaint was being handled through this office’s “informal complaint resolution process” that emphasizes the immediate resolution of complaints.  In this process, you were contacted as a representative of the city to provide its position and comments on this matter.  You believed the City of Winchester had no obligation to provide ADA service to the [name withheld]’s because they now live in Frederick County, Virginia and the County was not providing financial assistance to the city for people in the county needing public transportation.   

On June 10, 2005, as Director of Public Works, you issued a letter to [name withheld] stating that your agency had received an interpretation from a FTA representative who stated: “the regulation does not require an ADA paratransit operator to provide trips outside of its established service area.”  You further quoted this representative as saying, “the jurisdictional boundary principle permits the transit agency to ensure adequate service to those individual whose taxes are paying for it”. The preceding guidance meant the City of Winchester could limit its service to its service area and because Frederick County was not contributing funding to underwrite the expenses of the city’s paratransit system, the city had no obligation to provide service to or accommodate persons in the county, including the [name withheld]s.  Based on the preceding, you informed them that their paratransit riding privileges would end on June 30. 2005. 

Following your issuance of the June 10 letter, [name withheld] submitted additional written complaints.  In one letter she noted that in your June 10 letter you had not considered the fact that she and her husband lived within a three-fourth of a mile corridor from one of your fixed routes, thus entitling them to ADA paratransit service.  She also provided a bus schedule showing that at least two of your agency’s fixed bus routes served a portion of Frederick County. 

On August 22, 2005, the FTA Office of Chief Counsel, Regional Counsel, Office of Civil Rights staff, and Office of General Counsel had the opportunity to meet and discuss the Departmental regulations with reference to the political boundary requirement. (See section 37.131, and Appendix D 37.131)

The result of the meeting was a fuller understanding. The current DOT ADA regulations, as to this section, contain a typo and as "originally written" states:

"This exception to the service area criterion does not automatically apply whenever there is a political boundary, only when there is a legal bar to the entity providing service on the other side of the boundary." (See 56 FR 45749)

As such there is the obligation on Winchester to provide ADA Paratransit within the 3/4 mile area of the fixed route, absent a "legal bar".

As we discussed, even if [name withheld] resided outside of the 3/4 mile if she were able to access the 3/4 mile area she would still be entitled to ADA Paratransit service.

It is not a question of where you live, but rather if you are eligible and if you can bring yourself within the 3/4 mile area to be picked up. Eligibility is not restricted to persons within your political boundary area, and as such, the issue of whether the eligible rider is a contributing taxpayer can not be part of the equation.

I hope this helps to clarify the discussion that Akira Sano, you and I had recently, by phone.  Please advise Mr. Sano regarding the disposition of this matter.  If you have any questions, please contact him at 202-366-0804 or at akira.sano@fta.dot.gov.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

          

Sincerely,


David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights



cc:
    Nancy Greene, Regional Counsel 
    Deborah Haines, Region III Regional Civil Rights Officer