The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives people with disabilities many important
rights in the area of transportation. This fact sheet is limited to public transportation
systems. For more information on your rights to other types of transportation, please
contact one of the resources listed on our contact sheet. If you have a disability, you
are entitled to the same right to use and enjoy public transportation as people without
disabilities. The local transit provider does have the duty to make public transportation
accessible. Here are some examples of things that are needed to make a transportation system accessible. Public buses need to be accessible to those in wheelchairs. Drivers need to announce their stops out loud to benefit riders who are have visual impairments. Telephones, drinking fountains, and restrooms inside the terminal should also be accessible.
If the local transit authority cannot adequately serve its clients with disabilities in its
regular system, it is required to create a parallel transportation system for people with
disabilities. This system is referred to as a paratransit system. Paratransit systems are
curb-to-curb demand responsive systems. What this means is that you should be able
to schedule a trip, be picked up at your door and then be taken to your destination and
returned home. You should be able to schedule your ride just twenty-four hours in
advance. Your pick-up time should be within one hour before or after your desired
departure time. You should not be asked to schedule your trip during off peak hours.
The transit authority should put additional vans and buses on the road during peak
hours to keep up with the demand.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against based on your disability by your
local transit provider, you should write a letter to the manager describing the problem.
Keep a copy of the letter so that you can have it later to prove that you complained.
Sending a letter may prompt a quicker, more positive response from the manager.
After receiving your letter, the manager may call you to discuss your problem. If the
manager feels it appropriate, the manager will arrange a meeting to discuss your
problem with you.
If you have attempted to work out your problem with the local transportation provider
and are unsatisfied with the results, you may file a complaint with the Federal Transit
Administration (FTA). You are not required to contact the local transit provider before
filing a complaint with the FTA but it is probably a good idea to do so in most cases.
If you choose to file an FTA complaint, here is some more information about the
process. The complaint form requires you to give yes/no answers to some questions
and give written explanation to others. The form is approximately three pages in
length. You should spend some time thinking about your responses before writing
them. You may even want to write a rough draft of your comments before you enter
them on the form. Doing a draft insures accuracy and clarity, allowing you to make
your case in the most favorable light possible. A copy of the complaint form and the
address to send it to are enclosed. You may also access a copy of the complaint form
You also may have the right to file a lawsuit against your transit provider. For more
information about this you should contact a private attorney. If you do not know of
one you would like to use you may contact the Lawyer Referral Service at either (803)
799-7100 or toll-free 1-800-868-2284.
Contact Sheet for More Information
If you have questions about paratransit or public transportation services, you may find
the following resources helpful:
Southeast ADA Center
1419 Mayson Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
Disability Rights Education &
Defense Fund (DREDF)
3075 Adeline Street, Suite 210
Berkeley, CA 94703
Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
Office of Civil Rights
Federal Transit Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
If you need additional information about either of these processes, please call the P&A Intake Line: 1-866-275-7273 (voice) or 1-866-232-4525 (TTY)
This information packet has been prepared based on the law at the time it was written. Future changes in the law may make some information incorrect. Please feel free to contact the Intake Line for updates. This fact sheet is not intended to be legal advice.
This publication is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the Administration for Community Living) and the US Department of Education (Rehabilitation Services Administration). It does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding authorities.
P&A does not discriminate on the basis of disability, race, color, creed, national origin, ethnicity, ancestry, citizenship, age, religion, sex or sexual orientation, veteran status or any other class protected by law in the provision of its programs or services. Pete Cantrell is P&A’s designated coordinator for Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. June 2016, ADA