WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice today announced a settlement agreement with the City of Detroit, resolving a lawsuit that alleged discrimination by the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Department of Justice’s complaint, which was filed in March 2005 in a case that had been filed by private individuals, alleged that DDOT engaged in discriminatory practices by using buses with inoperable wheelchair lifts and failing to have maintenance and repair programs to ensure that buses with working lifts would be available. As a result, many individuals who use wheelchairs waited for long periods of time until they were able to board a bus with a functioning wheelchair lift, and in some cases, had to seek alternate methods of transportation or abandon their trips.
“Many individuals with disabilities depend on accessible public transportation for everyday activities like commuting to work, buying groceries, and visiting friends and family,” said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This agreement is a positive step forward in improving access to public transportation and we are pleased with the City of Detroit’s willingness to work with the Department to ensure that these improvements become permanent.”
“Detroit residents who use wheelchairs should not have to wait as buses pass them by because the bus lifts are inoperable. This Settlement Order represents a significant step toward ensuring that individuals with disabilities can participate fully in our community,” said Stephen J. Murphy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Since the litigation began, DDOT has taken steps to retire buses with non-functioning wheelchair lifts, repair and maintain lifts, and acquire new buses. Under the terms of the Settlement Order, which must be approved by Judge Robert H. Cleland of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, DDOT will continue and expand these programs. DDOT will also re-train its drivers and mechanics in the proper ways to deploy wheelchair lifts, assist passengers with disabilities, and maintain the lifts. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all new buses have wheelchair lifts. It further requires that Detroit and other municipalities maintain and repair the wheelchair lifts, and refrain from dispatching a bus with a non-functioning lift. Bus drivers must know how to operate the lifts, and must treat passengers with disabilities with courtesy and respect.
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Department of
Justice is available on its website at www.usdoj.gov/crt.