"A.D.A. TRANSPORTATION VICTORY"

Marilyn Golden of DREDF < mgolden@dredf.org  >writes:

DOT STRONGLY SUPPORTS THE RIGHT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
TO NEXT DAY PARATRANSIT SERVICE

On October 25, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
and the Solicitor General's office submitted a brief to the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit firmly
establishing the right of ADA eligible paratransit users to
next day service. The brief states unequivocally that DOT's
ADA regulation requires transit agencies to "design, fund,
and implement a next-day service to meet the foreseeable
needs of all ADA-eligible individuals." The pro-consumer
content of the brief is a clear victory for disability
advocates.

The disability community expresses our strong thanks to DOT
Secretary Norman Mineta, who has always acted decisively to
establish and protect our civil rights to transportation,
both when he was in Congress and oversaw the development of
the ADA in 1990, and today as the Secretary of DOT. The
Department of Justice has also endorsed these rights in
this important brief and gets our thanks. Further, hundreds
of disability advocates called upon DOT to stand up for the
ADA -- thank you to each and every one.

The brief was prompted by a request to DOT from the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to interpret its
ADA regulation in the case Anderson v. Rochester-Genesee
Regional Transit Authority. The brief will hopefully play a
good role in the outcome of that important lawsuit and
others as well. Further, the brief signals to transit
agencies that lax ADA compliance is not acceptable to DOT
and DOJ, and it provides another tool to disability
advocates.

The brief goes on to state that the DOT ADA regulation
"prescribes the [next day service] obligation in
unqualified terms. The regulation accordingly forecloses
any planned non-coverage. A transit provider cannot, for
example, plan to deny next-day service to some
'insubstantial' number of eligible individuals. The DOT has
consistently advised transit providers that they must
design, fund, and implement their programs to meet 100% of
the anticipated demand for next-day paratransit service
from eligible individuals."

Some of you may ask, why didn't we insist on same-day
service? Good question. The ADA law requires paratransit to
be "comparable" to fixed route (bus and rail) service, and
DOT's 1991 ADA regulation interpreted "comparable" to mean
"next day." This regulation, which the court asked DOT to
interpret (but not change), was already a compromise of the
equal rights of people with disabilities. The recent
victory guards that right against further compromise.

The brief can be read in full at
<http://dredf.org/DOTBrief.html> or downloaded as a pdf
file at
<http://www.apta.com/GOVT/OTHER/civil_rights_div_ltr.pdf>.

Marilyn Golden
mgolden@dredf.org
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

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JUSTICE FOR ALL -- A Service of the
American Association of People with Disabilities
www.aapd-dc.org      www.jfanow.org   

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coalition of people with disabilities and join AAPD today. 
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