WASHINGTON – A Houston bus company was fined $55,000 for violating passenger carrier accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), announced the Departments of Justice and Transportation. In addition to the fine, a consent agreement reached with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Justice Department requires Autobuses Ejecutivos LLC dba Omnibus Express to upgrade its fleet to meet ADA requirements by July 2011 or have its operating authority revoked.
An extensive investigation conducted by FMCSA uncovered that Omnibus Express was operating a fleet of 85 leased buses, and none were equipped with wheelchair lifts. In the past 12 months, the bus company leased 22 new buses that were not accessible to individuals with disabilities. ADA regulations require that at least 50 percent of a carrier’s buses be accessible, and that all new buses leased or purchased be accessible by individuals with disabilities.
“Equal access to transportation is at the cornerstone of autonomous and independent living, and this agreement demonstrates the strong commitment both the Justice Department and the Department of Transportation have to joint enforcement of the requirements that transportation be accessible to all,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “We will continue to vigorously enforce these requirements to ensure individuals with disabilities have equal access as guaranteed by the ADA.”
“Every day, thousands of people rely on motorcoaches and other types of commercial passenger buses to travel where they need to go safely and efficiently,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We owe it to the traveling public to make sure commercial buses are safe and accessible for everyone.”
In February 2009, FMCSA and the Justice Department 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.
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt . The consent agreement with Omnibus Express can be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/ABOUT/News/Omnibus-ConsentAgreement-508.PDF .