The ADA addresses transportation services provided by both state and local governments (Title II) and private businesses (Title III).
State and local governments often provide a number of public transportation services, including fixed-route bus systems, such as city or commuter buses that operate on designated routes according to established timetables; demand-responsive programs that use vans or buses to provide individually scheduled, destination-specific rides; and a variety of rail systems, such as light (streetcar-type) or rapid (subway-type) rail systems.
Public entities that operate certain types of fixed route systems must also provide complementary paratransit services for individuals whose disabilities prevent them from independently using the fixed route. Eligibility for complementary paratransit services is limited, but some individuals will be eligible even where the fixed route system (including vehicles) meets accessibility standards.
ADA-required complementary paratransit services must be comparable to the fixed route. Paratransit services must be available during the same days and times the fixed route operates. Fares can not be more than twice the amount charged for a comparable trip on the fixed route. Paratransit for bus routes must serve a “corridor” with a width of ¾ of a mile on each side of the fixed route and a “cap” with a ¾ mile radius at the ends of the route; for light and rapid rail systems, the paratransit service area is a ¾ mile radius around each station.
Private entities covered by Title III also offer many transportation services to the public. Sometimes providing transportation is a company’s “primary” business (like a taxi company) and sometimes it is an adjunct to another type of business (such as when a hotel, which is primarily in the lodging business, provides a shuttle service to a nearby airport). These services may operate on a fixed-route basis (with defined routes, stops, and schedules), or on a demand-responsive basis (taking individual passengers when and where they wish to go).
There are a number of obligations these transportation providers have under the ADA. There are requirements related to policies, operations, and communications with people with disabilities; there are also requirements related to the accessibility of vehicles and transportation facilities (such as depots and bus stops). Some requirements vary depending on the type of provider, the type of service, and the types of vehicles used.