400 Seventh St. S.W.
|December 28, 2000|
Re: FTA Complaint No. 00-0405
Dear (Name Withheld):
This letter responds to your complaint regarding the Regional Transportation Commission, Citizens’ Area Transit (CAT) Paratransit Service, of Las Vegas, Nevada, and potential 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 that 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, 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 that:
As to the actual determination of eligibility, in complaints of this nature, unless the facts of the particular circumstance appear to be egregious or substantively violate the regulation, we consider only the appeals process to determine if it comes within the requirements of the DOT ADA regulations. Our review the facts do not warrant accepting this allegation of eligibility denial as egregious or substantively violative. We accept for investigation the allegation regarding the propriety of the appeal process.
We informed RTC of this allegation and discussed the allegations with them relating to the complaint; reviewed the information presented by both RTC and you; and made a determination based on our analysis of the compiled information in relation to the DOT ADA regulations.
The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR section 37.125(g) state that:
The entity shall establish an administrative appeal process through which individuals who are denied eligibility can obtain review of the denial. (1) The entity may require that an appeal be filed within 60 days of the denial of an individual's application. (2) The process shall include an opportunity to be heard and to present information and arguments, separation of functions (i.e., a decision by a person not involved with the initial decision to deny eligibility), and written notification of the decision, and the reasons for it. (3) The entity is required to provide paratransit service to the individual pending the determination on appeal. However, if the entity has not made a decision within 30 days of the completion of the appeal process, the entity shall provide paratransit service from that time until and unless a decision to deny the appeal is issued.
A review of the information and documentation from RTC indicates that its current policy is more expansive than that required under this section of the ADA DOT regulations, allowing an appeal to be filed within 65 calendar days from the date of the denial notification letter. The letter from RTC dated July 17, 2000, clearly outlines the date and location of the appeal hearing, and your right to be heard.
An independent Paratransit Eligibility Hearing Officer conducted the actual appeal hearing, and determined, after reviewing all relative documents, that you were able to negotiate the fixed route system. As the appeal hearing was set outside the thirty day time period and RTC, in accordance with subsection (3) of 49 CFR section 37.125(g), provided you eligibility through the course of the appeal. Appropriate guidelines were followed in handling the appeal and its actions were in accord with the requirements of the DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR section 37.125(g).
We also note that FTA conducted an assessment of RTC’s ADA Complementary Paratransit Operations in July 1999. Included in this assessment was a review of RTC’s eligibility determination procedure and appeal process. That review found that RTC has "incorporated state-of- the-art functional assessment tools into its certification program, including physical, cognitive, visual, and psychiatric tests modeled after nationally recognized programs." In addition, "RTC has taken steps to improve their appeal process by hiring paid professional hearing examiners who have the skills to judge whether the certification process has been properly handled on a case-by-case basis."
The Assistant Customer Service Supervisor of CAT Paratransit Services, has assured us that it will re-evaluate your eligibility if you obtain definitive documentation that you cannot use the fixed route bus system and wish to reapply.
If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact Eugene Jenkins, on FTA's toll free ADA Assistance Line at 1-888-446-4511, or at his electronic mail address: eugene.jenkins.@dot.gov. Please identify the FTA complaint number in any correspondence with this office.
|Cheryl L. Hershey|
ADA Group Leader
Office of Civil Rights