Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, DC, 12-28-00

U.S. Department
of Transportation

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

Federal Transit
December 28, 2000

Re: FTA Complaint No. 99169


Dear (Name Withheld):

This letter responds to your complaint against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Metro Access alleging noncompliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA) and 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 complainantís 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 address it by assisting the transit provider to comply with the ADA. If we 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 allegations to be as follows:

We informed WMATA of your allegations and requested information relating to your complaint; reviewed the information presented by WMATA and you; and made a determination on your allegations based on our analysis of the compiled information in relation to the DOT ADA regulations. Some of the information is based on data previously gathered for another complaint regarding the same type of issues. Our determination follows.

The DOT ADA regulations at 49 CFR section 37.131(f) prohibit any actions that would "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; (B) Substantial numbers of trip denials or missed trips; (C) Substantial numbers of trips with excessive trip lengths.

WMATA previously acknowledged to FTA that MetroAccess has had difficulties in providing intracounty trips and has taken measures to improve the quality of ADA Complementary Paratransit service to the suburban metropolitan areas. WMATA noted that the "service failures" you cited were the responsibility of the Barwood Taxi Cab Company, an ADA Complementary Paratransit provider contracted by Montgomery County to supply intracounty trips within Montgomery County. During the period of time that you were using the service, WMATA made reservations under the MetroAccess umbrella for the suburban areas, but the service was provided under contracts between the county governments (Montgomery County in your case) and their own contractors. Although WMATA was involved at the front end of the process with taking reservations, it was not involved in the actual provision of intracounty trips. We recognize that there were some problems with the delivery of services of cross-jurisdictional rides.

As a result, WMATA has taken action to improve the quality of ADA Complementary Paratransit service to the suburban metropolitan areas. WMATA, in agreement with most of the surrounding counties, now has the direct responsibility of providing ADA Complementary Paratransit trips for the counties. WMATA reorganized to provide direct ADA Complementary Paratransit service to the majority of the surrounding counties, including Montgomery County, where service began on July 1, 2000.

We acknowledge WMATAís actions taken to address the problem through the reorganization of the MetroAccess ADA Complementary Paratransit service. While we will take no further action on this individual complaint, we will monitor the effectiveness of WMATAís new system for similar deficiencies through our complaint system.

We understand that, because of the difficulties you encountered, you no longer use the MetroAccess service. Should you decide to try it again, we hope that the changes that WMATA has made will result in a much better experience for you.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Roberta Wolgast, Equal Opportunity Specialist, at our toll free FTA ADA Assistance Line, 1-888-446-4511, or at her electronic mail address: roberta.wolgast@dot.gov.


Cheryl L. Hershey
ADA Group Leader
Office of Civil Rights