MBTA Resolves Allegations of ADA Violations

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has resolved allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by providing a subsidy for users of The Ride paratransit service to supplement their paratransit rides with ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, even though these companies did not have the capacity to provide service to passengers who used wheelchairs.

During its investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office found that because wheelchair accessible vehicles were either unavailable or the wait times were excessive, wheelchair users could not benefit from the MBTA program in the same way as other users of The Ride.

In resolving the investigation, the MBTA has implemented a policy that incentivizes ride sharing companies to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles available for hire, which has resulted in more wheelchair-accessible vehicles in service and available for both The Ride program and the public at large. The MBTA has also agreed to monitor wait times for riders needing wheelchair-accessible vehicles and to report that data to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a period of 18 months. They must also notify the U.S. Attorney’s Office of any material changes to its policy.

“Innovation is not an excuse for avoiding accessibility. Rather, it is an opportunity to enhance accessibility. That is what the MBTA has now done here. The first iteration of the MBTA’s program left out rights for those who use wheelchairs. We commend the MBTA on its efforts to rectify this problem and its success in implementing a program that has resulted in more wheelchair accessible vehicles on the road. This solution helps and includes everyone – not only users of The Ride,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins.

The matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Dorchak of Rollins’ Civil Rights Unit.

The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.