Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990
With the passage of the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was extended to include all activities of state and local government. Its provisions were not limited to programs receiving federal funds and applied to all public transit services, regardless of how the services were funded or managed. Title II of the ADA also more clearly defined a disabled person's right to equal participation in transit programs, and the provider's responsibility to make that participation possible.
In revisions to Title 49 Part 37, the Federal Transit Administration defined the combined requirements of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act for transit providers. These requirements included "complementary" paratransit to destinations within 3/4 mile of all fixed routes (49 CFR 37.131) and submission of a plan for complying with complementary paratransit service regulations (49 CFR 37.135). Paratransit service is an unfunded mandate.
Under the ADA, complementary paratransit service is required for passengers who are 1) Unable to navigate the public bus system, 2) unable to get to a point from which they could access the public bus system, or 3) have a temporary need for these services because of injury or some type of limited duration cause of disability (49 CFR 37.123). Title 49 Part 37 details the eligibility rules along with requirements governing how the service must be provided and managed. In the United States, paratransit service is now highly regulated and closely monitored for compliance with standards set by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
As the ADA became effective in 1992 (49 CFR 37.135), the FTA required transit systems in the United States to plan and begin implementing ADA compliant services, with full implementation by 1997 (49 CFR 37.139). During this period, paratransit demand and services rapidly expanded. This growth led to many new approaches to manage and provide these services. Computerized reservation, scheduling and dispatching for paratransit have also evolved substantially and are now arguably among the most sophisticated management systems available in the world of rubber tire transit (land-based non-rail public transit).
Since the passage of the ADA, paratransit service has grown rapidly as a mode of public transit in the United States. Continued growth can be expected due to the aging of baby boomers and disabled Iraq War veterans.
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