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

U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Transit Administration

January 31, 2001

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

Re: FTA Complaint No. 00-0328

Dear (Name Withheld):

This letter responds to your complaint regarding the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and potential 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 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 a 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 WMATA of your allegation; reviewed the documentation in your file; observed the extended paid area as well as the emergency gates in question; analyzed WMATA’s response; and made a determination based on our analysis of the compiled information in relation to the DOT ADA regulations. Our determination follows.

The DOT ADA regulations at Appendix A to Part 37, section 10.3.1(7) applies to automatic fare vending, collection and adjustment systems, and states in part:

Gates which must be pushed open by wheelchair or mobility aid users shall have a smooth continuous surface extending from 2 inches above the floor to 27 inches above the floor…

In its response, WMATA stated that, "The gates are clearly posted with signs saying, ‘STOP, For Emergency Use Only.’" Representatives of this Office, previously in a related complaint, made an on-site visit and observed the path of travel as well as the gate. It is clear that the gates are not meant to be used as part of the accessible path and have no direct relationship to automatic fare vending, collection or adjustment systems. As such, we do not find these emergency exit gates to be deficient under the DOT ADA regulations.

If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact Roberta Wolgast, Equal Opportunity Specialist, on FTA’s toll free FTA ADA Assistance Line, 1-888-446-4511, or at her electronic mail address: roberta.wolgast@dot.gov. Please identify the FTA complaint number in any correspondence with this office. Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention.


Cheryl L. Hershey
ADA Group Leader
Office of Civil Rights