The National Academies

TCRP Synthesis J-07/Topic SB-28 [Active (Synthesis)]

Administration of ADA Paratransit Eligibility Appeal Programs
[ TCRP J-07 (Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/27/2016 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: The Collaborative, Inc.
Principal Investigator: David Chia
Effective Date: 9/22/2016
Fiscal Year: 2016

Final Scope

Although several reports describe transit agency practices for determining eligibility for ADA paratransit service, little has been documented about how transit agencies manage appeals by applicants who are determined to be “not eligible” or are found “conditionally eligible,” including temporary eligibility.

Appeal programs allow appellants the opportunity to present new information not provided or available during the initial eligibility decision that may warrant a change in eligibility determination. At the same time, any appeal program must consistently apply the decision-making standards established by the agency’s ADA paratransit certification program. As more agencies employ some form of conditional eligibility, eligibility appeal processes are emerging as a significant area of vulnerability. If the eligibility appeal process is not administered properly, transit agencies run the risk of violating applicants’ civil rights under the ADA and/or Title VI requirements. This can result in complaints being filed with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and/or costly lawsuits. A synthesis study identifying ADA eligibility appeal processes and practices is urgently needed.

While some ADA paratransit programs offer highly structured eligibility and appeal processes, many do not. At the same time, comparative information about how transit agencies design or administer their appeal programs is not readily available. Such information can be valuable to transit systems where there are gaps in resources or expertise available to address this topic.

This synthesis will document the current state of the practice and identify challenges and lessons learned through a literature review, survey of representative transit agencies, and documentation of selected case examples/profiles. Information gathered will include but not be limited to:

Structure and design of program
• Type of process and number of steps ( administrative review, number of hearings),
• Internal or external process? (Are there State requirements?)
• Policies and procedures,
• Who actually determines the process?
• How was the process developed?

Administration of appeal programs
• Day-to-day program management,
• Customer education and communication,
• Appellant interface regarding hearing structure and logistics,
• Documentation, reporting and correspondence,
• Community involvement (advisory board, etc.),
• Managing confidentiality and conflicts of interest.
Appeal hearing composition
• Who actually determines the makeup of the appeal entity?
• How does it actually run?
• Who hears the appeal? (e.g. employees, community representatives, professionals, administrative law judge),
o Training received?
o Are they compensated?
o Are they indemnified?
Appeal documentation
• Nature and extent of documentation (data, ADA compliance and timelines, excel, computer software used, outcome letters, etc.),
• quality control and consistency with local ADA paratransit certification program,
• Who keeps the documentation?
• Recordkeeping and retention policies (for example, who is responsible for it?)

Resource requirements
• What is required for program management (personnel, training, etc.)?
• budget,
• transportation,
• Other costs (court reporters, translators, ASL, etc.)

Information Sources:
• USDOT ADA regulations 49 CFR §37.125(g) and Appendix D thereto,
• FTA’s Circular C-4710.1 (2015),
• National Council on Disability Transportation Update (2015) 

TRB Staff
Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Phone: 202-334-2361
Email: mgarciacolberg@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: September 22, 2016, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: May 16, 2017, Woods Hole, MA

Topic Panel
Cecilia FeeleyRutgers University Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Rosemary B. Gerty, Pace Suburban Bus
Tammy Haenftling, Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Jeanne Krieg, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority
Cynthia W. Lister, Milligan & Co.
Kathy Miller, TriMet Transit Mobility Center
Frank N. Roth, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Carol Tyson, Vehicles Accessibility Advisory Committee
Dawn Sweet, Federal Transit Administration
Stephen J. Andrle,
Transportation Research Board



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