Access Services, Los Angeles, CA, 10-30-00

U.S. Department
of Transportation

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

Federal Transit
Administration
October 30, 2000

Re: FTA Complaint No. 00030

Dear [Name withheld]:

This letter responds to your complaint filed on behalf of individuals with disabilities against Access Services, Incorporated (ASI), of Los Angeles, 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 that may result in the termination of Federal funds. FTA also may refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.

We understand your general allegations that relate to poor quality of ADA Complementary Paratransit service to persons with disabilities, include the following:

  1. Significantly untimely pickups of initial and/or return trips;
  2. Substantial number of missed trips; and
  3. Inappropriate treatment by ASI ADA Complementary Paratransit drivers to persons with disabilities.

We informed ASI of your allegations and requested information relating to your complaint; reviewed the information presented by you and ASI; and made a determination on each of your allegations based on our analysis of the compiled information in relation to the DOT ADA regulations. We have restated your allegations, followed by our determinations below.

1. ASIís ADA Complementary Paratransit Service has a significant rate of late untimely pickups for initial and/or return trips;

The DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR 37.131(f) states:

The entity shall not limit the availability of complementary paratransit service to ADA paratransit eligible individuals by any of the following: (1) Restrictions on the number of trips an individual will be provided; (2) Waiting lists for access to the service; or (3) Any operational pattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons. (i) Such patterns or practices include, but are not limited to, the following: (A) Substantial numbers of significantly untimely pickups for initial or return trips.

The entity shall not limit the availability of complementary paratransit service to ADA paratransit eligible individuals by any of the following: (1) Restrictions on the number of trips an individual will be provided; (2) Waiting lists for access to the service; or (3) Any operational pattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons. (i) Such patterns or practices include, but are not limited to, the following: (A) Substantial numbers of significantly untimely pickups for initial or return trips.

Based on the information received, we found that of the 24 complainants you identified, 17 are ADA Complementary Paratransit eligible riders; and seven (7) are ineligible riders, either they are contact persons for disabilities or their eligibilities have expired or were denied and did not appeal the decision.

Western Law Center for Disability Rights records reflected that four (4) of the complainants were not contacted by the Western Law Center for Disability Rights prior to the filing of the complaint and did not want to be involved. As such this letter only addresses the experience of the 17 eligible riders.

ASIís ADA Complementary Paratransit total ridership increased from 133,000 trips in 1993 compared to 1,582,229 in 1999. Likewise, ASIís on time performance also improved from 73% to 91% during the same period.

We reviewed the 9-month ride history of the 13 ADA eligible riders (from July 1999 through March 2000). The ride history for four eligible riders was unavailable due to corrupted computer error. We determined that the ridersí on time pickup rate using the 30-minute on time performance window (15 minutes prior to and 15 minutes after scheduled pick up time) was 93%.

On-Time Performance for 9-month period of 13 ADA Complementary Paratransit Eligible Riders

Trips Total Trips On-Time On-Time (within 20-min window On-Time(within 30-min window) 45+ Min Late Trips
4376 3744 86% 93% 3%

ASI advised us that four (4) riders who received significantly poor service of more than 10 minutes late pickup outside the pick up window, will be contacted individually to determine the extent of their service problems and to provide resolution to them. We have determined based on our review of the materials submitted that cancellations of scheduled trips caused some problems in providing timely service. For example, one complainant, [Name withheld] scheduled 1,264 trips and she cancelled 7 trips on one day or a total of over 1000 trip cancellations in the last nine months.

ASI elected to provide in-service training for [Name withheld] rather than suspending her eligibility to avoid multiple reservations and cancellations. ASI will meet with Name withheld] and her advocate to provide in-service training on appropriate scheduling and cancellation procedures.

The documentation verifying an on time pick up rate of 93% does not support a finding of a violation of the DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR 131(f), however, we encourage ASI to continue to improve the timeliness of its service. We are continuing to monitor this situation with ASI as to late pick ups.

ASI informed us that they instituted a procedure in July 1999 to implement an Operations Monitoring Center by contacting at random at least 30 riders a day who had ridden the previous day to verify the trip performance. This procedure also allows riders to contact the center any time the vehicle is late and its staff has access to emergency response vehicles that can be dispatched quickly to pickup passengers. The emergency response system operates 24 hours a day Ė 7 days per week. According to ASI, a taxicab will be sent to wait for the passenger until the emergency vehicle has arrived. ASI had contracts with various Centers for Independent Living to randomly select ADA Complementary Paratransit passengers to report anonymously the service quality of their trips.

2. Substantial number of missed trips.

The DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR 37.131(f)(3)(i)(B) states:

Any operational pattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to
ADA paratransit eligible persons. Such patterns or practices include, but are not limited
to, Ösubstantial numbers of trip denials or missed trips;Ö

Any operationalpattern or practice that significantly limits the availability of service to ADA paratransit eligible persons. Such patterns or practices include, but are not limited to, Ösubstantial numbers of trip denials or missed trips;Ö

The DOT ADA regulation does not quantitatively define the phrase "substantial numbers of significantly missed trips." However, ASI provided documentation showing that from 1998 through 1999, the rate of missed trips is less than 1% of all rides; and presently the rate dropped to 0.4%. ASIís Board of Directors adopted performance standards to address issues specifically on missed trips (trips one or more hours late). ASI finds it difficult to discover any isolated repeated service problems from among the 39,000 eligible riders or 1.2 million trips provided per year. ASI encourages riders to cooperate by either contacting or filing a complaint with ASI or any of its service providers to determine the nature and root cause of the ridersí problems.

ASIís monitoring efforts show the following results:

1997-1998 1998-1999 1999-March 2000
Missed Trips 6% 0.9% 0.4%
Rides Provided 1,193,000 1,582,229 1,187,975

The documentation does not support a finding of a violation of the DOT ADA regulation at 49 CFR 131(f) at this time.

3. Inappropriate treatment by ASI complementary paratransit drivers to persons with disabilities.

The DOT ADA regulation requires that transit providers educate personnel to work with persons with disabilities and with accessibility features. The regulation states at Section 37.173.

Each public or private entity which operates a fixed route or demand responsive system shall ensure that personnel are trained to proficiency, as appropriate to their duties, so that they operate vehicles and equipment safely and properly assist and treat individuals with disabilities who use the service in a respectful and courteous way, with appropriate attention to the difference among individuals with disabilities.

ASI provided documentation that it has a training program that meets the requirements of the DOT ADA regulation. ASI has a policy that any employee, whether internal or contracted, displaying a continued pattern or poor behavior will be terminated. ASI stated that passengers are encouraged to ask for the individualís name and file a complaint with the Customer Service Center for resolution. ASI stated that allegations of mistreatment by Access Paratransit drivers are taken very seriously.

Information provided by ASI indicates that, this fiscal year, based on passengersí complaints and road observations 196 drivers were required to be retrained; 53 drivers were suspended from service for various period of time and were required to complete re-training before they are put back on the road; and, two drivers and two dispatchers were permanently removed from service. Also, ASIís paratransit providers, independent of ASIís direction, regularly remove and re-train drivers based on their own observations.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact Mr. Peralta, at our toll free FTA ADA Assistance Line, 1-888-446-4511, or at his electronic mail address: roger.peralta@dot.gov.

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

cc: Richard DeRock
Executive Director
Access Services, Incorporated