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In late 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published four new guidelines on various applications of disability rights, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to transportation issues. The documents provide useful clarification about the legal requirements for level boarding platforms in rail stations, ADA paratransit service, and the use of Segways on transportation vehicles.
One of the paratransit documents covers an important issue that has been debated by the courts: the ADA requirement for "origin-to-destination" service, which may be provided "curb-to-curb" or "door-to-door." It emphasizes, however, that "transit providers [are obliged] to ensure that eligible passengers are actually able to use paratransit service to get from their point of origin to their point of destination." Pace must consider these guidelines as it provides ADA paratransit throughout the Chicago region.
The Segway is a two-wheeled, gyroscopically stabilized, battery-powered personal transportation device that is not typically used by people with disabilities, since it requires an ability to stand for long periods of time. In addressing the Segway, the DOT states that, while it should not be considered a "wheelchair," "a Segway, when used by a person with a disability as a mobility device, is part of the broad class of mobility aids that [the ADA regulation] intends will be accommodated. … In this way, a Segway occupies a legal position analogous to canes, walkers, etc."
In appreciation of these new guidelines, Equip for Equality sent a supportive letter to DOT Secretary Norman Mineta. The new guidelines are available online.
At the end of 2006, the five-year class-action settlement agreement Access Living et al. v. Chicago Transit Authority will come to a close, ending one chapter in the movement for equal access to transportation for people with disabilities. The lawsuit and settlement addressed access to CTA fixed-route bus and rail services, requiring significant improvements that have made the system easier to use for people with many types of disabilities. One example is the system that CTA installed on its buses that automatically announces and displays stops and transfer points. Each bus also makes an audio announcement when its doors open so customers can hear the route name, number and destination.
Even with laws such as the ADA, no transit system will ever be perfect. Transit customers can help improve service by providing both positive feedback and complaints to transit agencies like the CTA. To contact the CTA, call (888) YOUR-CTA (888-968-7282) or dial "*-1" from any CTA station pay phone – press "5" for Elevator Status information – or TTY: (888) CTA-TTY1 (888-282-8891) or send an email to: email@example.com.
For more information about these and other transportation issues, contact Equip for Equality's Senior Transportation Advocate Kevin Irvine: (800) 537-2632 ext. 7321 or TTY: (800) 610-2779 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Equip for Equality's Transportation Rights Project online.
Spotlight: Transportation Updates
Updates provide useful legal clarification about platforms in rail stations, ADA paratransit service, and the use of Segways on transportation vehicles.