Accessibility for Buses: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Regulations and Rights
Over-the-Road Bus Accessibility
The Department of Transportation’s ADA regulations require all over-the-road bus (OTRB) operators to provide timely service for passengers with disabilities, including wheelchair users. An OTRB (which is a motorcoach in most cases) is a bus with an elevated passenger deck over a baggage compartment. Depending on the type of service provided, operators can provide either accessible OTRBs or equivalent service.
- An accessible OTRB has a lift, other device, or configuration for helping passengers who cannot climb steps board a bus; two specific locations for securing wheelchairs to prevent them from sliding; and other features to ease travel for passengers with disabilities. Operators must ensure accessible features are operational.
- 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. A small OTRB operator providing fixed-route service can provide equivalent service. No other type of OTRB operator can provide equivalent service.
OTRB Operators Cannot Discriminate Against Individuals with Disabilities
It is discrimination if an OTRB operator:
- Denies transportation based on a disability. Operators can deny service to any passenger for violent, seriously disruptive, or illegal behavior. However, they cannot deny service if a disability causes an appearance or involuntary behavior that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience employees or others.
- Requests persons other than employees (i.e., family members or travel companions) to assist passengers with disabilities, unless a passenger requests or consents to help from such persons.
- Requires or asks a passenger with a disability to reschedule a trip, or travel at a time other than the passenger’s requested time.
- Fails to provide reservation services to passengers with disabilities that are equivalent to those provided other passengers.
Advance Notice for Service to Passengers with Disabilities
Charter (demand responsive) OTRB operators and small mixed service OTRB operators may require 48 hours advance notice to provide transportation to passengers with disabilities.
Reporting Accessibility/ADA Compliance Complaints
If you believe an OTRB operator is not complying with ADA requirements, you may file a complaint.