San Joaquin Regional Transit District, CA, 1-31-01

U.S. Department
of Transportation

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

Federal Transit
January 31, 2001


FTA Complaint Number 95038

Dear (Name Withheld):

This letter responds to your complaint against the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (SJRTD), in Stockton, California, and potential 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, 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, the 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 allegation to be as follows:

We informed SJRTD of your allegations, requested information relating to your complaint and reviewed the information presented by SJRTD and you, and made a determination in relation to the DOT ADA regulations based on our analysis of the compiled information.

Our review of SJRTD’s materials indicates that the routes in question are not fixed route service, but rather, route-deviation demand-responsive service. As such, ADA Complementary Paratransit is required only on those portions of the route that are fixed route and do not allow user-initiated deviations.

The DOT ADA regulations at Appendix D to 49 CFR section 37.3 state that:

[W]e would regard a system that permits user-initiated deviations from routes or schedules as demand-responsive. For example, if a rural public transit system (e.g. a section 18 recipient) has a few fixed routes, the fixed route portion of its system would be subject to the requirements of subpart F for complementary paratransit service. If the entity changed its system so that it operated as a route deviation system, we would regard it as a demand responsive system. Such a system would not be subject to complementary paratransit requirements.

The information indicates that prior to the Spring of 1997, SJRTD offered route deviation service to intercity persons with disabilities that resided within the 3/4 mile corridor of routes 20 and 21. However, in the spring of 1997, SJRTD implemented the General Public Dial-a-Ride Program. The service serves the urban communities, as well as the rural and isolated areas, and is open to persons with disabilities as well as other SJRTD customers. This information shows that SJRTD now operates a route deviation system, which is regarded as a demand responsive system. As a demand responsive system, it is not required to provide ADA Complementary Paratransit service; there is no violation of the DOT ADA regulation.

While the provision of ADA Complementary Paratransit is not required in this instance, nevertheless under the DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR section 37.77, the purchase or lease of non-rail vehicles for a demand responsive system by a public entity after August 8, 1990, requires that the vehicle be accessible. There are instances however where this not required. A transit property may acquire a non-accessible vehicle after this date if, when the system viewed in its entirety, it provides "equivalent service" for individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair users.

The following characteristics are to be considered, in the provision of service by a demand response system where a vehicle is not accessible and acquired after 8/25/90, to determine if persons with disabilities are receiving "equivalent service": (1) Response time; (2) Fares;

(3) Geographic area of service; (4) Hours and days of service; (5) Restriction or priorities based on trip purpose; (6) Availability of information and reservations capability; and (7) Any constraints on capacity or service availability.

We thank you for bringing this to our attention. If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact Eugene Jenkins, Equal Opportunity Specialist. on FTA’s toll free ADA Assistance Line, 1-888-446-4511, or at his electronic mail address:


Cheryl L. Hershey
ADA Group Leader
Office of Civil Rights