Americans With Disabilities Act:

Challenges Faced by Transit Agencies in Complying With the Act's Requirements

RCED-94-58: Published: Mar 11, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 1994.

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GAO reviewed transit agencies' implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act's (ADA) paratransit requirements, focusing on: (1) transit agencies' early experiences with phasing in the requirements and challenges to successful implementation; (2) the transit agencies' projections of costs and compliance time periods; and (3) variables affecting the projections' reliability and the potential costs' magnitude.

GAO found that: (1) transit agencies' challenges in implementing ADA provisions include paratransit eligibility determinations, financing paratransit service and accessible vehicles, and continuing service to non-ADA eligible individuals; (2) ADA impact on transit agencies varies; (3) paratransit service is 10 times more expensive than fixed-route service; (4) by 1996, annual ADA costs are expected to be $700 million for paratransit service, $65 million for fixed-route service, and $130 million for rail service; (5) transit agencies' difficulties in establishing eligibility processes include obtaining agreements with the affected groups on service levels, arranging professional review of eligibility applications, and developing an appeal process; (6) most transit agencies have not implemented their eligibility determination processes; (7) most transit officials believe that doing the required trip-by-trip eligibility determinations is impractical; (8) most agencies will have to expand their paratransit capacity to meet ADA requirements, but budget constraints could limit service to only those meeting ADA eligibility criteria; (9) although total implementation costs cannot be estimated because most of the agencies' plans contain incomplete financial data and projections, costs are expected to double under ADA; (10) 61 percent of the agencies expect to be in compliance before 1996, but requests for compliance extensions will probably increase because of financial burdens; and (11) paratransit cost projections are uncertain because improved service could stimulate demand, social service agencies could discontinue their transportation services, and paratransit riders may not switch to accessible fixed-route service.

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