This section contains amendments from November 30, 1993.
On fixed route systems, the entity must announce stops. These stops include transfer points with other fixed routes. This means that any time a vehicle is to stop where a passenger can get off and transfer to another bus or rail line (or to another form of transportation, such as commuter rail or ferry), the stop would be announced. The announcement can be made personally by the vehicle operator or can be made by a recording system.(c) Where vehicles or other conveyances for more than one route serve the same stop, the entity shall provide a means by which an individual with a visual impairment or other disability can identify the proper vehicle to enter or be identified to the vehicle operator as a person seeking a ride on a particular route.
If the vehicle is small enough so that the operator can make himself or herself heard without a P.A. system, it is not necessary to use the system. Announcements also must be made at major intersections or destination points. The rule does not define what major intersections or destination points are. This is a judgmental matter best left to the local planning process. In addition, the entity must make announcements at sufficient intervals along a route to orient a visually impaired passenger to his or her location. The other required announcements may serve this function in many instances, but if there is a long distance between other announcements, fill-in orientation announcements would be called for. The entity must announce any stop requested by a passenger with a disability, even if it does not meet any of the other criteria for announcement.
When vehicles from more than one route serve a given stop or station, the entity must provide a means to assist an individual with a visual impairment or other disability in determining which is the proper vehicle to enter. Some entities have used external speakers. UMTA is udnertaking a study to determine what is the best available technology in this area.(d) The entity shall permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities.
Some transit properties have used colored mitts, or numbered cards, to allow passengers to inform drivers of what route they wanted to use. The idea is to prevent, at a stop where vehicles from a number of routes arrive, a person with a visual impairment from having to ask every driver whether the bus is the right one. The rule does not prescribe what means is to be used, only that some effective means be provided.
Service animals shall always be permitted to accompany their users in any private or public transportation vehicle or facility. One of the most common misunderstandings about service animals is that they are limited to being guide dogs for persons with visual impairments. Dogs are trained to assist people with a wide variety of disabilities, including individuals with hearing and mobility impairments. Other animals (e.g., monkeys) are sometimes used as service animals as well. In any of these situations, the entity must permit the service animal to accompany its user.(e) The entity shall ensure that vehicle operators and other personnel make use of accessibility-related equipment or features required by Part 38 of this title.
Part 38 requires a variety of accessibility equipment. This section requires that the entity use the equipment it has. For example, it would be contrary to this provision for a transit authority to bolt its bus lifts shut because the transit authority had difficulty maintaining the lifts. It does little good to have a public address system on a vehicle if the operator does not use it to make announcements (except, as noted above, in the situation where the driver can make himself or herself heard without recourse to amplification.)(f) The entity shall make available to individuals with disabilities adequate information concerning transportation services. This obligation includes making adequate communications capacity available, through accessible formats and technology, to enable users to obtain information and schedule service.
Entities must make communications and information available, using accessible formats and technology (e.g., Braille, large print, TDDs) to obtain information about transportation services. Someone cannot adequately use the bus system if schedule and route information is not available in a form he or she can use. If there is only one phone line on which ADA paratransit eligible individuals can reserve trips, and the line is chronically busy, individuals cannot schedule service. Such obstacles to the use of transportation service are contrary to this section. (The latter could, in some circumstances, be viewed as a capacity constraint.)(g) The entity shall not refuse to permit a passenger who uses a lift to disembark from a vehicle at any designated stop, unless the lift cannot be deployed, the lift will be damaged if it is deployed, or temporary conditions at the stop, not under the control of the entity, preclude the safe use of the stop by all passengers.
It is inconsistent with this section for a transit provider to refuse to let a passenger use a lift at any designated stop, unless the lift if physically unable to deploy or the lift would be damaged if it did deploy.(see discussion under §37.123). In addition, if a temporary situation at the stop (e.g., construction, an accident, a landslide) made the stop unsafe for anyone to use, the provider could decline to operate the lift there (just as it refused to open the door for other passengers at the same point). The provider could not, however, declare a stop "off limits" to persons with disabilities that is used for other persons. If the transit authority has concerns about barriers or safety hazards that peculiarly affect individuals with disabilities that would use the stop, it should consider making efforts to move the stop.(h) The entity shall not prohibit an individual with a disability from traveling with a respirator or portable oxygen supply, consistent with applicable Department of Transportation rules on the transportation of hazardous materials.
Under DOT hazardous materials rules, a passenger may bring a portable medical oxygen supply on board a vehicle. Since the hazardous materials rules permit this, transit providers cannot prohibit it. For further information on hazardous materials rules, as they may affect transportation of assistive devices, entities may contact the Department's Research and Special Programs Administration, Office of Hazardous Materials Transportation (202-366-0656).(i) The entity shall ensure that adequate time is provided to allow individuals with disabilities to complete boarding or disembarking from the vehicle.
One concern that has been expressed is that transportation systems (particularly some rail systems) may make it difficult for persons with disabilities to board or disembark from vehicles by very rapidly closing doors on the vehicles before individuals with disabilities (who may move more slowly through crowds in the vehicle or platform than other persons) have a chance to get on or off the vehicle. Doing so is contrary to the rule; operators must make appropriate provision to give individuals with disabilities adequate time to board or disembark.
(1) When an individual with a disability enters a vehicle, and because of a disability, the individual needs to sit in a seat or occupy a wheelchair securement location, the entity shall ask the following persons to move in order to allow the individual with a disability to occupy the seat or securement location:
(i) Individuals, except other individuals with a disability or elderly persons, sitting in a location designated as priority seating for elderly and handicapped persons (or other seat as necessary);
(ii) Individuals sitting in or a fold-down or other movable seat in a wheelchair securement location.
(2) This requirement applies to light rail, rapid rail, and commuter rail systems only to the extent practicable.
(3) The entity is not required to enforce the request that other passengers move from priority seating areas or wheelchair securement locations.