Transit Access Project

Overview

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established the requirement for public transit agencies to provide transit services that are accessible for people with disabilities. Since the passage of the act in 1990, significant progress has been made toward providing ADA-compliant transit options. However, there are still transit agencies that have not reached full compliance with the ADA transit regulations. When transit agencies fail to meet their ADA obligation, individuals and groups can assemble to negotiate solutions with their transit agency. Because many individuals and groups may be unsure of how to effectively advocate for transit access, Meeting the Challenge, Inc. produced this report to present a step-by-step guide that any group can use to negotiate with their transit agency to achieve ADA compliance.

Key Points

The full promise of the ADA is not fulfilled when transit stations and stops are inaccessible for people with disabilities, when lifts are not maintained in a manner that promotes reliable availability, or when stop announcements are not made on fixed routes. This guide is intended to educate and empower those with disabilities who do not have full access to public transit in their community. Thirteen steps are outlined and discussed in this report that will provide advocates with a strategic framework for negotiating with their local transit agency. These steps are meant to be adjusted for the unique circumstances of different communities. In addition to these steps, persistence, tenacity, and strategic planning are the most important tools for advocating full compliance of ADA transit regulations at an individual level.

Studying applicable court cases and settlement agreements will empower advocates in their efforts to reach fully compliant public transit. Several relevant court cases are addressed in this report including:

  • Crawford et al. v. City of Jackson – this case between the city of Jackson, Mississippi and its public transit system, JATRAN, addressed the need for improved maintenance of wheelchair lifts on the city’s fixed-route bus system, alternative transportation when lifts are inoperable, and training for personnel to ensure they can assist passengers with disabilities. More information regarding this case can be found here: http://www.ada.gov/jackson_transit.htm
  • Dilworth v. City of Detroit – this case was brought on by allegations against the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) claiming that their public transportation system discriminated against people with disabilities. Under the terms of the settlement DDOT took steps to improve conditions of disabled passengers by acquiring new buses, retiring buses with nonfunctioning lifts, repairing and maintain lifts, and retraining drivers in assisting passengers with disabilities.

How to Use

Perseverance and education are among the most important tools when it comes to advocating for improvements in any community. The steps and protocol addressed in this guide are intended to empower any member of a community in their efforts to reach ADA compliance with their transit agency. Providing safe and accessible public transportation for residents of all ages and abilities is a critical component of a livable community.

View Full Report: Transit Access Project (PDF – 466 KB)

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