Bus company fined $55,000 for violating ADA accessibility requirements

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice announced $55,000 in fines against Tornado Bus Co. Inc. of Dallas. Tornado was fined for violating passenger carrier accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to the fine, the consent agreement issued by FMCSA and DOJ requires the bus company to upgrade its fleet to meet ADA requirements by February 2011 or have its operating authority revoked.

“Every person deserves the right to travel freely and have equitable access to transportation services,” says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This enforcement case sends a strong message that we will not allow commercial bus companies to shun their responsibility to operate fairly and safely.”

An investigation conducted by FMCSA uncovered that Tornado had only one accessible bus in a fleet of 53 buses, while ADA regulations require that at least 50 percent of a carrier’s vehicles must be accessible. The investigation also found the company had purchased new nonaccessible buses, failed to train employees on interacting with disabled passengers and failed to establish a wheelchair lift maintenance program. The fine and citations came as a result of FMCSA’s ADA strike force held in May of this year.

“Adhering to ADA accessibility requirements is not a choice, but a high standard that every commercial bus operator must follow,” says FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “FMCSA will continue to work closely with the Department of Justice to vigorously enforce ADA compliance so that all travelers can enjoy destinations across America by way of commercial bus.”

In February 2009, FMCSA and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the enforcement of commercial passenger buses. The memorandum between the two agencies was included in the Over-the-Road Bus Transportation Accessibility Act of 2007 and is designed to ensure consistent ADA enforcement nationwide.