Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) Policy on Accessibility and Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and related State of Minnesota Statutes as Amended, December 10, 2014
It is the policy of the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority to implement the legal requirements of the Federal and State governments in a manner so as to meet the following goals:
- To encourage individual and dignified use of the transit system with minimal assistance from transit system employees, contractors, and other users.
- To expedite the safe and efficient boarding, transporting, and alighting of all passengers, regardless of mobility status.
- To adapt to a wide range of mobility aids within the physical limitations of current vehicles and available commercial standard equipment.
- To minimize any potential damage to mobility aids from the onboard securement system.
To accomplish this policy, the following specific actions have been adopted the 28th day of June, 2006, revised the 24th day of January, 2007, revised the 31st day of October, 2012, and revised the 10th day of December 2014.
Application of Policy
This policy applies to MVTA services, facilities, and vehicles. This includes all contracted services operated by other private and public operators. This policy is not intended to suggest or require compliance by other operating entities, including Metro Transit, other Metropolitan Council general public service providers, or Metro Mobility and its contracted agencies and operators.
Facility and Vehicle Design Requirements
All MVTA facilities and vehicles shall meet or exceed the minimum requirements for accessibility, including but not limited to 49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38, MN Stat. Ch. 299A, and MN Rules Ch. 7450. MVTA shall exceed the minimum requirements in the following way(s): All transit vehicles shall be equipped with two forward-facing securement positions, including those vehicles 22 feet long and under. Transit vehicles may be equipped with one or more combination positions which shall provide a compliant forward-facing position and a rear-facing position which need not include a compliant occupant-restraint system when used in the rear-facing manner. All vehicles shall be equipped with a kneeling feature if that feature is offered by the manufacturer.
Vehicle Design Records
Records will be maintained describing the lift and securement equipment on each MVTA transit vehicle. This information will include the design capacity of the devices to allow determination of what vehicles may be able accommodate passengers in various types of non-conforming mobility aids.
The assignment of particular vehicle types will be made on the basis of total ridership demand. Recognizing that certain vehicle types may be available to only one MVTA contractor, buses can not and will not be assigned on the basis of their accessibility features. Given the sensitivity of certain passengers using mobility aids to particular vehicle designs, however, staff will work with those passengers to alert them to changes in the vehicle assignments as they affect accessibility features when quarterly and special service changes are made.
Wheelchair means a mobility aid belonging to any class of three- or more-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed or modified for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered.
Passengers who use mobility aids requiring the deployment of the lift or ramp will board prior to other passengers, unless the passenger requests otherwise. Drivers are required to kneel the bus if requested and so equipped, or to deploy the lift or ramp if requested, even if the passenger is not using a mobility aid. Drivers are required to directly assist passengers upon request by briefly pushing the mobility aid (including up a steeply sloped vehicle ramp), and by properly operating the vehicle lift/ramp and securement systems. At locations where there is no curb or sidewalk, drivers may require passengers to move their mobility aid a short distance to allow for proper and safe deployment of the lift or ramp.
A personal care attendant is permitted to accompany the passenger on the vehicle lift/ramp if requested, provided the combined weight of the passenger, mobility aid, and attendant does not exceed 600 pounds. The attendant is not permitted to operate the lift or ramp.
Fares for users with limited mobility are set by the Metropolitan Council. Riders must display a qualifying identification card, as determined by the Council, upon request of the driver. Drivers must assist with fare payment upon request. It is the responsibility of passengers requiring fare payment assistance to have their fare ready and in a convenient location. A personal care attendant accompanying a qualified passenger rides for free.
Priority Seating/Securement Area
A priority seating area shall be designated at the front of each vehicle for passengers with limited mobility not using a secured mobility device. Drivers are required to ask passengers occupying these seats to vacate them upon request of boarding passengers. Drivers are not required to enforce the priority seating designation beyond making such a request.
An area shall be designated close to the lift or ramp entrance for the securement of mobility aids. If this area is occupied by ambulatory passengers and a passenger in a mobility aid boards the vehicle, drivers will request those passengers to relocate, and passengers are required to relocate upon the drivers request, unless the bus is already so full that those ambulatory passengers would be unable to safely stand.
Securement & Restraint
It is MVTA policy that mobility aids be secured by the driver while onboard MVTA vehicles. The standard for securement is that drivers must make their best effort to secure the chair, not securement to the satisfaction of the driver. Drivers will receive training in the proper securement of mobility aids both in the hiring process and in regular in-service retraining. A personal care attendant may assist in the securement procedure but the driver must always examine the securements before proceeding.
A conforming lap and shoulder belt shall be provided in the forward-facing securement areas. It shall be recommended to all passengers riding in a secured mobility aid that they be restrained using the lap and shoulder belt, however, it will not be required.
Mobility aids placed in an approved rear-facing position shall be secured by the design of the position which may be entirely passive or include a securement strap to restrict lateral movement. In the latter case, deployment of the securement strap either by the driver, the passenger, or an attendant is required, and driver inspection of the strap deployment is required if it is deployed by the passenger or an attendant.
A conforming lap and shoulder belt need not be provided for the rear-facing use of a combination position and even if such a lap and shoulder belt is provided, it is not required to be used except on request of the passenger. Passengers requesting use of the lap and shoulder belt must be carried in a forward-facing position if a conforming lap and shoulder belt is not available for a rear-facing position.
Transfer to Fixed Seating
Drivers shall recommend that users of scooter type conforming mobility aids transfer to fixed seating and allow only the mobility aid to be secured to the bus; furthermore drivers may recommend that users of other particular mobility aids transfer if they believe it to be in the passenger's safety interest due to the design of the mobility aid. Under no circumstance may drivers require a transfer, even if the mobility aid is not able to be secured to the driver's satisfaction. Drivers are required to use their best effort to secure all mobility aids whether occupied or not.
Wheelchair Securement Training Program
Staff shall implement a program for users of mobility aids to improve drivers' ability to correctly secure mobility aids. This program may include but not be limited to marking of preferred attachment points for securement devices, attachment of tether straps where appropriate attachment points are not available, and passenger training on identifying preferred securement methods to drivers on vehicles with different securement systems.
Persons with a disability requiring the use of a service animal shall be permitted to board with such animal. Drivers are permitted to request that persons traveling with a service animal identify that the animal is performing a service function either by verbal or visual means, including but not limited to identifying equipment or markings attached to the animal.
Announcing of Stops
- Drivers are required to announce inside the bus all upcoming time points, transfer points that are not time points, and stops at signalized intersections, as well as any other stops requested by riders.
- Drivers are required to announce both the stop location and any transfer routes. MVTA staff will develop a program to identify to drivers those stops that must always be announced.
- Drivers are required to announce to persons outside the bus at stops the route number, plus the direction and destination where necessary to clearly identify the trip to waiting passengers.
- Drivers are required to use provided public address systems to make these announcements, except on 25-foot and smaller buses where announcements may be made without the use of the public address system provided the announcements can be clearly heard throughout the bus.
Passengers who use mobility aid devices will ordinarily alight after other passengers at the same stop. Drivers are required to kneel the bus if requested and so equipped, or to deploy the lift or ramp if requested, even if the passenger is not using a mobility aid. Drivers are required to assist passengers upon request. At locations where there is no curb or sidewalk, drivers may suggest an alternate stop to allow for easier deployment of the lift or ramp; however, drivers are required to allow passengers to alight at their requested stop unless doing so is likely to damage the lift/ramp or prevent it from operating properly.
Use of Accessibility Devices by Riders Not Using a Mobility Aid
Drivers shall operate the vehicle lift/ramp and/or kneeling feature upon request for all passengers. This includes use of the lift/ramp for strollers. The mobility aid securement system may only be used to secure a mobility aid. The lap-and-shoulder belt may only be used to restrain a passenger riding in a secured mobility aid.
If there is a failure of the lift/ramp or securement devices, a replacement vehicle must be dispatched if the next trip to the destination of any passenger using a mobility device is scheduled in more than 30 minutes. If the next trip to the destination of any passenger using a mobility device is scheduled in 30 minutes or less, a replacement vehicle may be dispatched if available.