37.161  Maintenance of accessible features - general.

(a) Public and private entities providing transportation services shall maintain in operative condition those features of facilities and vehicles that are required to make the vehicles and facilities readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.  These features include, but are not limited to, lifts and other means of access to vehicles, securement devices, elevators, signage and systems to facilitate communications with persons with impaired vision or hearing.  
This section applies to all entities providing transportation services, public and private.  It requires those entities to maintain in operative condition those features or facilities and equipment that make facilities and vehicles accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

The ADA requires that, to the maximum extent feasible, facilities be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.  This section recognizes that it is not sufficient to provide features such as lift-equipped vehicles, elevators, communications systems to provide information to people with vision or hearing impairments, etc. if these features are not maintained in a manner that enables individuals with disabilities to use them.  Inoperative lifts or elevators, locked accessible doors, accessible paths of travel that are blocked by equipment or boxes of materials are not accessible to or usable by individuals with disabilities.
(b) Accessibility features shall be repaired promptly if they are damaged or out of order.  When an accessibility feature is out of order, the entity shall take reasonable steps to accommodate individuals with disabilities who would otherwise use the feature.
Allowing obstructions or out of order accessibility equipment to persist beyond a reasonable period of time would violate this Part, as would mechanical failures due to improper or inadequate maintenance.  Failure of the entity to ensure that accessible routes are free of obstruction and properly maintained, or failure to arrange prompt repair of inoperative elevators, lifts, or other accessibility-related equipment, would also violate this part.

The rule also requires that accommodations be made to individuals with disabilities who would otherwise use an  inoperative accessibility feature.  For example, when a rail system discovers that an elevator is out of order, blocking access to one of its stations, it could accommodate users of the station by announcing the problem at other stations to alert passengers and offer accessible shuttle bus service around the temporarily inaccessible station.  If a public address system were out of order, the entity could designate personnel to provide information to customers with visual impairments.
(c) This section does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs.
The rule points out that temporary obstructions or isolated instances of mechanical failure would not be considered violations of the ADA or this rule.  Repairs must be made "promptly." The rule does not, and probably could not, state a time limit for making particular repairs, given the variety of circumstances involved.  However, repairing accessible features must be made a high priority.