ADA Requirements for Over-the-Road Bus Companies
This webpage provides information about the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) requirements for over-the-road buses (OTRBs) under its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Because the information below provides only a summary, DOT's actual ADA regulations should be reviewed for specific legal requirements (see 49 CFR part 37, subpart H). In general, DOT's ADA regulations require accessible, timely OTRB service for passengers with disabilities, including wheelchair users.
I. Equipment and Service Requirements
A. Fixed Route Companies
A fixed route OTRB company must ensure that: (1) each new OTRB purchased or leased for fixed route service is accessible; and (2) the entire fixed route OTRB fleet consists of accessible buses.
B. Demand Responsive and Mixed Companies
A demand responsive OTRB company must provide service in an accessible bus to passengers with disabilities on a 48-hour advance notice basis.
OTRB companies that provide mixed service must meet the requirements for both fixed route and demand responsive segments of their service.
C. Alternatives for Small Companies
1. Small Fixed Route Companies
Small fixed route OTRB companies, as an alternative to the general rule, may choose to (1) ensure each new OTRB purchased is accessible or (2) provide equivalent service to passengers with disabilities. There is no deadline by which part or all of the bus fleet must be accessible. Until their fleets become fully accessible, small fixed route OTRB companies must either (1) provide service in an accessible bus to passengers with disabilities on a 48-hour advance notice basis or (2) provide equivalent service.
2. Small Demand Responsive Companies
Small demand responsive OTRB companies must provide accessible service to passengers with disabilities on a 48-hour advance notice basis. However, such companies are not required to fundamentally alter reservation practices or displace other passengers in order to meet these requirements.
3. Small Mixed Service Companies
Small mixed service OTRB companies can meet the alternatives to the general rule for both small fixed route OTRB companies and small demand responsive OTRB companies by providing accessible service within 48 hours. Doing so allows such companies to comply with one set of requirements for all provided services.
II. Glossary of Terms
The following provides a basic glossary of terms used by DOT's ADA regulations:
Accessible Bus. An accessible bus or accessible OTRB is a bus that includes a lift for getting passengers who cannot climb steps onto a bus, specific locations for securing the wheelchair to prevent it from sliding, and other features to ease travel for passengers with disabilities.
Demand Responsive Service. An OTRB company provides demand responsive service if it provides transportation to individuals via OTRB through a charter/tour system.
Equivalent Service. Equivalent service is service provided to passengers with disabilities that is as good as the type of service provided to passengers without disabilities (e.g., a different accessible vehicle is used to provide service to the same traveling points for the same cost within the same time frame as a regularly scheduled OTRB). Equivalent service requires that passengers be allowed to travel in their own wheelchairs.
Fixed Route Service. An OTRB company provides fixed route service if it provides transportation in which the OTRB is operated along a prescribed route according to a fixed schedule.
Large Operator. Under DOT's regulatory definition, a large operator or large OTRB company has gross annual transportation revenues equal to or exceeding $9.9 million. This threshold is based upon the definition of Class I motor carrier and is adjusted annually for inflation with Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Mixed Service. An OTRB company provides mixed service if it provides both fixed route and demand responsive service, and 25 percent or less of its OTRB fleet is used in fixed route service.
OTRB. An OTRB is a bus characterized by an elevated passenger deck over a baggage compartment.
Small Operator. Under DOT's regulatory definition, a small operator or small OTRB company has gross annual transportation revenues less than $9.9 million. This threshold is based upon the definition of Class I motor carrier and is adjusted annually for inflation with Bureau of Labor Statistics data.