June 4, 1998
The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510-0703
Dear Senator Lieberman:
I am responding to your recent letter on behalf of your constituent, xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Ms. xxxxxxx expressed concern that the Greyhound bus company may be excluded from coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Please excuse our delay in responding.
Section 304 of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12184, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in transportation services offered by any private entity that is primarily engaged in the business of transporting people. Greyhound, and other private companies that provide bus service to the public, are subject to this prohibition and to the Department of Transportation's (DOT) implementing regulation (49 C.F.R. pt. 37).
The ADA requires DOT to issue a regulation to establish both the nondiscrimination requirements applicable to transportation providers and the design standards applicable to the vehicles they purchase. When this regulation was published in 1991, it did not contain design requirements for the "over-the-road" buses or OTRBs, which are commonly used by private interstate bus lines. OTRBs are buses that have an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment. This exclusion was based on specific statutory provisions that required DOT to defer development of such standards until the Office of Technology Assessment completed a study required by section 305 of the ADA. That study was completed in 1993.
On March 25, 1998, DOT published, for public comment, a proposed rule that will establish design standards and purchase requirements for OTRBs. The proposed rule will also establish interim operating requirements to be followed by the private providers until their bus fleets are fully accessible. The public comment period will close on May 26, 1998.
I have enclosed a copy of this proposed rule for your information. I hope that it is helpful to you in responding to Ms. xxxxxxx.
Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division