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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 6, 2017

Chariot Transit Inc. Enters Agreement To Ensure Full Accessibility Of Commuter Vehicles

SAN FRANCISCO – Chariot Transit, Inc. has entered a landmark settlement agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office to resolve allegations that the San Francisco-based company violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against customers with disabilities, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch.  As part of the settlement, Chariot will pay a $50,000 civil penalty to the United States and take numerous steps to ensure that it provides equivalent service to individuals with disabilities.

Chariot, a private transportation company with its principal place of business in San Francisco, provides private commuter transportation services in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Austin, Texas. Customers may request rides through a smartphone application, and the Chariot commuter vehicle stops at pre-determined locations if customers have requested a vehicle to stop there.  An investigation by the United States determined that from July 2015 to November 2016, Chariot may have violated the ADA by leasing at least 161 new 14-passenger vehicles for use in its services in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin, none of which were readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs. During this time, Chariot’s website and individual responses to customer inquiries indicated that Chariot only provided service to individuals who use wheelchairs if they could transfer to a seat and if there was space for their wheelchair that did not take the seat of another passenger; those who required an accessible vehicle would only be provided “accessible resources in the region.”  

“Passengers with disabilities are entitled to equal access to the innovative forms of transportation available in today’s market,” said United States Attorney Stretch. “With this agreement, Chariot has pledged its commitment to ensure individuals who use wheelchairs receive the same service as other passengers.”

Pursuant to the settlement, Chariot will pay a $50,000 civil penalty to the United States and will make the following changes:

  • Operate sufficient readily accessible vehicles in each market to ensure individuals with disabilities receive equivalent service. 
  • Not require passengers with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs, to book a Chariot trip differently from any other passenger.  
  • Ensure the Chariot smartphone application requests all relevant information from passengers such that a separate phone call or message with Chariot staff will not be required for passengers with disabilities. 
  • Conduct ADA training for employees who interact with commuter customers, commuter vehicles, or the commuter customer-facing smartphone application (including product design employees, customer success managers and agents, Charioteers (drivers), captains, marketing employees, brand ambassadors, dispatchers, operations employees, and general managers).  The training will include instruction on the ADA requirements for private entities operating a transportation system and Chariot’s policies and practices regarding accommodation of individuals with disabilities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Blachman Hitchings is handling the matter on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

Updated November 6, 2017