The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities in the United States National Council on Disability June 13, 2005



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The Current State of

Transportation for

People with Disabilities

in the United States


National Council on Disability

June 13, 2005

1National Council on Disability

1331 F Street, NW, Suite 850

Washington, DC 20004


The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities in the United States
This report is also available in alternative formats and on the award-winning National Council on Disability (NCD) Web site (www.ncd.gov).
Publication date: June 13, 2005
202-272-2004 Voice

202-272-2074 TTY

202-272-2022 Fax
The views contained in this report do not necessarily represent those of the Administration as this and all NCD documents are not subject to the A-19 Executive Branch review process.

June 13, 2005


The President
The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), I am very pleased to submit this report entitled The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities in the United States. The report was developed with the input of individuals with disabilities and transportation professionals from around the country. The purpose in undertaking this project was to develop a better understanding of access to transportation and mobility for people with disabilities, including access to traditional public transportation systems, private transportation services, alternative transportation initiatives, and the pedestrian environment; to identify transportation barriers as well as promising practices and models; and to develop recommendations in keeping with the goals of the New Freedom Initiative to “expand transportation opportunities for people with disabilities.”

There have been many advances in America’s transportation systems and services for citizens with disabilities, particularly since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the nation’s public transportation industry are to be applauded for their part in bringing about this progress. However, research reveals that many barriers to transportation continue to exist that prevent the full inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in society.

This report highlights many best practices and successful initiatives that can serve as models for other communities for enhancing transportation and mobility for people with disabilities. This report also sets forth a variety of recommendations for service improvements and for additional research that will lead to greater options for the 6 million Americans with disabilities who have difficulties obtaining the transportation they need to live independent and productive lives.

NCD hopes the information in this report will serve as a useful resource for individuals with disabilities, transportation professionals, and lawmakers working to improve access to transportation and mobility for people with disabilities. NCD looks forward to working with this Administration and Congress to continue to develop and support laws, policies, and practices that will ensure that every person with a disability is able to participate fully in all aspects of American life.

Sincerely,


Lex Frieden


Chairperson

(The same letter of transmittal was sent to the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.)


National Council on Disability Members and Staff

Members

Lex Frieden, Chairperson, Texas

Patricia Pound, First Vice Chairperson, Texas

Glenn Anderson, Ph.D., Second Vice Chairperson, Arkansas


Milton Aponte, J.D., Florida

Robert R. Davila, Ph.D., New York

Barbara Gillcrist, New Mexico

Graham Hill, Virginia

Joel I. Kahn, Ph.D., Ohio

Young Woo Kang, Ph.D., Indiana

Kathleen Martinez, California

Carol Novak, Florida

Anne M. Rader, New York

Marco Rodriguez, California

David Wenzel, Pennsylvania

Linda Wetters, Ohio



Staff

Ethel D. Briggs, Executive Director

Jeffrey T. Rosen, General Counsel and Director of Policy

Mark S. Quigley, Director of Communications

Allan W. Holland, Chief Financial Officer

Julie Carroll, Senior Attorney Advisor

Joan M. Durocher, Attorney Advisor

Martin Gould, Ed.D., Senior Research Specialist

Geraldine Drake Hawkins, Ph.D., Program Analyst

Mark Seifarth, Congressional Liaison

Pamela O’Leary, Interpreter

Brenda Bratton, Executive Assistant

Stacey S. Brown, Staff Assistant

Carla Nelson, Office Automation Clerk


Acknowledgments

The National Council on Disability (NCD) wishes to express its appreciation to Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and Richard Weiner of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates for conducting research into the current state of transportation for people with disabilities and for drafting this report. NCD also wishes to express its appreciation to the many individuals with disabilities and transportation professionals across the country who provided the input and personal experiences that were essential for the development of this report.



Table of Contents

Section 1: Executive Summary 13

Fixed-Route Public Transit 13

Paratransit 14

Approaches That Have Resulted in Service Improvements on Public Transit 15

Public Rights-of-way 15

Private Transportation 16

Flex Service and Other Nontraditional Forms of Transit Service 16

Transportation in Rural Areas 16

Section 2: Introduction 19

Section 3: Fixed-Route Public Transit 23

Bus Transit 23

General assessment 23

Low-floor ramped buses and other features of universal design 25

Problem areas 26

Stop announcements 26

Bus equipment maintenance 30

Lift maintenance problems in Detroit 31

But is it really broken? 31

Securement of mobility devices 33

Ensuring proper securement 34

Wheelchairs that are difficult to secure, and should wheelchair securement be optional? 34

Resolving securement problems 35

Oversized wheelchairs 36

Rail Transit 37

Rapid rail, light rail, and commuter rail 37

Access to train stations 37

Key station enforcement 38

Elevator maintenance and information on outages 40

The rail gap 41

Commuter rail and platform accessibility 41

Stop announcements 43

Amtrak 43

Section 4: Paratransit 48

General Assessment 48

Policy Issues That Impact Service Availability and Quality 49

Eligibility 49

Use of fixed-route versus paratransit service 50

Recent trends in paratransit eligibility 52

Trip-by-trip screening 53

Best practices in assessing eligibility 54

Immediate needs certification 56

Service area 57

Trip denials 57

Court-established right to next-day service 58

Hidden impact of trip denial rates 59

On-time performance 62

Factors affecting on-time performance 63

The one-hour window and the importance of the desired arrival or appointment time 63

The on-time pickup window 65

Negotiated time versus scheduled time 65

Trip length 66

Other operational issues 66

Factors outside the transit agency’s control 67

Other operational practices to enhance on-time performance 67

Agreed-upon time should appear on driver’s manifest 67

Consistency of daily tours 67

Monitoring 68

Callouts 68

Information technology 68

Lengthy telephone hold times and other capacity constraints 69

Subscription service 70

Cutting back service to minimum ADA requirements and other strategies to manage costs 72

No-show policies 75

Late cancellations 77

Door-to-door versus curb-to-curb service 80

Travel training and other efforts to transition paratransit riders to fixed routes 82

Fare incentive programs 84

Travel training in the context of IDEA 86

Equalizing pay between fixed-route drivers and paratransit drivers 86

Feeder service 88

Chain trips 90

Low bid versus service quality in contracting 91

Seniors with disabilities are not necessarily eligible for ADA paratransit 92

Serving individuals who need dialysis treatment 93

Serving individuals with dementia 94

Use of taxis in paratransit 95

Case studies 97

Best practices in Broward County, Florida 97

Best practices in New York City, New York 97

Section 5: Approaches That Have Resulted in


Service Improvements on Public Transit 99

Disability Community Involvement 99

ADA Administrative Complaints to the Federal Transit Administration 102

Federal Transit Administration ADA Assessments 103

Litigation 105

Ballot measures 106

Information technology 107

Section 6: Issues for All Modes of Public Transit 111

Department of Justice ADA Requirements and Their Relationship to Public Transportation 111

DOT’s 1991 regulation under section 504 112

The D.C. Circuit statement on the same issue in Burkhart v. WMATA 113

DOJ’s amicus brief in Burkhart 114

Federal Transit Administration reliance on DOJ regulation 115

Contrary Fifth Circuit decision in Melton v. DART 116

In conclusion, the DOJ regulation applies to transit agencies 117

Service Animals 117

Discrimination based on service animals 117

Must one say the magic words? 118

Barriers to People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities 120

Section 7: Public Rights-of-Way 123

Section 8: Private Transportation 127

Taxi Service 127

General assessment 127

Accessible taxi service 127

Portland, Oregon 128

Seattle, Washington 129

Boston, Massachusetts 130

Las Vegas, Nevada 131

Chicago, Illinois 132

San Francisco, California 133

New York, New York 133

Other locations 134

Issues and concerns 134

Keeping the vehicles in use and available 135

Accessibility and nondiscrimination 137

Training 137

Enforcement 138

Vehicles and costs 138

Greyhound and Other Intercity Bus Service 140

Airport Shuttles and Other Airport-related Services 143

Social Services Transportation and Coordination 145

Tour and Charter Service 147

Section 9: Flex Service and Other Nontraditional

Forms of Transit Service 149

Route Deviation Service 149

Community Bus Routes 152

Section 10: Transportation in Rural Areas 153

Section 11: Other Publicly Funded Transportation Initiatives 157

Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) and Other Work Transportation Programs 157

Volunteer Driver Programs 159

Section 12: Conclusion 161

Section 13: Appendices 163

Appendix A: Recommendations

(in order of their appearance in this report) 163

Fixed-Route Public Transit (from Section 3) 163

Stop announcements 163

Bus equipment maintenance 163

Securement of mobility devices 164

Oversized wheelchairs 164

Rail transit 165

Paratransit (from Section 4) 166

Eligibility 166

Trip denials 166

On-time performance 167

Lengthy telephone hold times and other capacity constraints 168

Subscription service 168

Cutting back service to minimum ADA requirements and other strategies to manage costs 169

No-show policies and late cancellations 169

Door-to-door versus curb-to-curb service 170

Travel training and other efforts to transition paratransit riders to fixed route 170

Equalizing pay between fixed-route drivers and paratransit drivers 171

Feeder service 171

Chain trips 172

Low bid versus service quality in contracting 172

Serving individuals who need dialysis treatment 172

Serving individuals with dementia 173

Approaches That Have Resulted in Service Improvements in Public Transit


(from Section 5) 173

Disability community involvement 173

ADA administrative complaints to the Federal Transit Administration 173

Federal Transit Administration ADA Assessments 173

Litigation 173

Ballot measures 174

Information technology 174

Issues for All Modes of Public Transit (from Section 6) 174

Department of Justice ADA requirements and their relationship to public transportation 174

Service animals 174

Barriers to people with multiple chemical sensitivities 175

Public Rights-of-Way (from Section 7) 175

Private Transportation (from Section 8) 175

Taxi service 175

Greyhound and other intercity bus service 176

Airport shuttles and other airport-related services 176

Social services transportation and coordination 177

Tour and charter service 177

Flex and Other Nontraditional Forms of Transit Service (from Section 9) 177

Transportation in Rural Areas (from Section 10) 177

Other Publicly Funded Transportation Initiatives (from Section 11) 178

Job access reverse commute (JARC) and other work transportation programs 178

Volunteer driver programs 178

Appendix B: Recommendations


(organized by the entity to which they are directed) 179

To Publicly Funded Transit Agencies 179

General 179

Stop announcements 179

Bus equipment maintenance 179

Securement of mobility devices 180

Rail transit 180

Paratransit––eligibility 181

Paratransit––trip denials 182

Paratransit––on-time performance 182

Paratransit––lengthy telephone hold times and other capacity constraints 183

Paratransit––subscription service 183

Paratransit––cutting back service to minimum ADA requirements and other strategies to manage costs 183

Paratransit––no-show policies and late cancellations 184

Paratransit––door-to-door versus curb-to-curb service 185

Paratransit––travel training and other efforts to transition paratransit riders to fixed route 185

Paratransit––equalizing pay between fixed-route drivers and paratransit drivers 185

Paratransit––feeder service 185

Paratransit––low bid versus service quality in contracting 186

Paratransit––serving individuals who need dialysis treatment 186

Paratransit––serving individuals with dementia 187

Flex and other nontraditional forms of transit service 187

Public rights-of-way 187

Department of Justice ADA requirements and their relationship to public transportation 187

Service animals 187

Barriers to people with multiple chemical sensitivities 188

Information technology 188

To Providers of Privately Funded Transportation 188

To Airport-related Transportation Providers 189

Tour and charter service 189

Service animals 189

Barriers to people with multiple chemical sensitivities 189

Information technology 190

To the Federal Government 190

Specific recommendations to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 190

Transportation in rural areas 191

ADA enforcement 191

Public rights-of-way 191

Rail transit 191

Vehicle standards 191

Paratransit 191

Department of Justice ADA requirements and their relationship to public transportation 192

Airport transportation 192

Greyhound and other intercity bus service 192

Social services transportation 192

Volunteer driver programs 192

To State and Local Governments/Municipal Leaders 193

To People with Disabilities/Advocates/Riders/Disability Organizations 193

General 193

Paratransit 194

Greyhound and other intercity bus service 194

To Wheelchair Manufacturers 194

To Schools and Departments of Education 194

To the Public Rights-of-Way Industry 194

To Planning and Design Curricula at the University Level 194

To Airports 195

To Researchers 195

Appendix C: Methodology 196

Appendix D: List of Focus Group Participants,

Interviewees, and Consultants 199

Focus Group Participants, August 31, 2004 199

Persons Interviewed or Consulted 199

Appendix E: 0Mission of the National Council on Disability 204

Overview and Purpose 204

The Current Statutory Mandate of NCD Includes the Following: 204

International 206

Consumers served and current activities 206

Statutory history 206

Section 14: Endnotes 207



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