Disability Law Index - Transportation: Stop Announcements & Route Identification


49 C.F.R. § 37.167 - Other service requirements.

(a) This section applies to public and private entities.

(b) On fixed route systems, the entity shall announce stops as follows:

(1) The entity shall announce at least at transfer points with other fixed routes, other major intersections and destination points, and intervals along a route sufficient to permit individuals with visual impairments or other disabilities to be oriented to their location.

(2) The entity shall announce any stop on request of an individual with a disability.

(c) Where vehicles or other conveyances for more than one route serve the same stop, the entity shall provide a means by which an individual with a visual impairment or other disability can identify the proper vehicle to enter or be identified to the vehicle operator as a person seeking a ride on a particular route.

(d) The entity shall permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities.

(e) The entity shall ensure that vehicle operators and other personnel make use of accessibility-related equipment or features required by part 38 of this title.

(f) The entity shall make available to individuals with disabilities adequate information concerning transportation services. This obligation includes making adequate communications capacity available, through accessible formats and technology, to enable users to obtain information and schedule service.

(g) The entity shall not refuse to permit a passenger who uses a lift to disembark from a vehicle at any designated stop, unless the lift cannot be deployed, the lift will be damaged if it is deployed, or temporary conditions at the stop, not under the control of the entity, preclude the safe use of the stop by all passengers.

(h) The entity shall not prohibit an individual with a disability from traveling with a respirator or portable oxygen supply, consistent with applicable Department of Transportation rules on the transportation of hazardous materials (49 CFR subtitle B, chapter 1, subchapter C).

(i) The entity shall ensure that adequate time is provided to allow individuals with disabilities to complete boarding or disembarking from the vehicle.


(1) When an individual with a disability enters a vehicle, and because of a disability, the individual needs to sit in a seat or occupy a wheelchair securement location, the entity shall ask the following persons to move in order to allow the individual with a disability to occupy the seat or securement location:

(i) Individuals, except other individuals with a disability or elderly persons, sitting in a location designated as priority seating for elderly and handicapped persons (or other seat as necessary);

(ii) Individuals sitting in or a fold-down or other movable seat in a wheelchair securement location.

(2) This requirement applies to light rail, rapid rail, and commuter rail systems only to the extent practicable.

(3) The entity is not required to enforce the request that other passengers move from priority seating areas or wheelchair securement locations.

(4) In all signage designating priority seating areas for elderly persons and persons with disabilities, or designating wheelchair securement areas, the entity shall include language informing persons sitting in these locations that they should comply with requests by transit provider personnel to vacate their seats to make room for an individual with a disability. This requirement applies to all fixed route vehicles when they are acquired by the entity or to new or replacement signage in the entity's existing fixed route vehicles.

Case Law:

Martin v. Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, 225 F.Supp.2d 1362 (N.D.Ga.,2002).
Plaintiffs had “overwhelming” evidence that the drivers failed to make stop announcements

Neff v. VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority, 179 F.R.D. 185 (W.D.Tex.1998).
Discusses a settlement agreement where the authority (San Antonio) agreed to provide stop announcement trainings to its drivers.

Tandy v. City of Wichita, 380 F.3d 1277 (10th Cir. 2004).
Even though there was evidence that the drivers failed to make stop announcements, the plaintiff could not get prospective relief through the court requiring all drivers to call out stops when it is based on her experience with one driver.

Department of Education Reports:

California State University, Hayward. Docket #05-04-6002.
Drivers had failed to make stop announcements to waiting student riders.

FTA Letters & Reports:

Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, UT, 12-28-00.
The FTA addresses a consumer’s complaints about unannounced stops and malfunctioning audio systems.

Maryland Mass Transit Administration (MTA) Baltimore, MD. October 2-5, 2000.
Discusses an on-site assessment of the fixed route service provided by MTA. The report focuses on MTA’s implementation of stop announcements and route identification requirements under the ADA. The assessment team found that stop announcements were not utilized consistently and MTA’s policies did not include announcements at sufficient intervals along the route to orient the passenger. MTA also did not require the private providers it contracts with to announce stops when it is required by the ADA.

Pace Suburban Bus Division of the Regional Transportation Authority, Arlington Heights, Illinois, July 22-25, 2002.
Found that 87% of Pace drivers made “some” stop announcements. Pace also had an extensive service monitoring program and that its drivers were cited for failing to make a stop announcement. Drivers did not have a list of stops to announce leading to some inconsistency in the announcements.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) July 2000.
Found that 61% of stop announcements were announced. However the list of stop announcements did not appear to comply with the ADA and there were missing stops that should be included. Private carriers that MBTA contracted with did not have stop announcements. Voice and PA announcements were not audible/clear.

Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) Assessment of Stop Announcement and Route Identification Efforts April 3-6, 2000.
Found that the automated system was not working consistently. When it wasn’t working, voice announcements were not substituting the automated system. Voice/automated announcements were not audible and clear respectively.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) August 20-24, 2001.
Overall, 74% of operators announced stops. They did not have a list of stops to work from. Megaphone symbol attached to stop signs to remind drivers to make announcements were confusing. Procedure for using stop request cards was ineffective in encouraging stop announcements.

Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) Pittsburgh, PA. August 21-24, 2000.
Twenty-seven percent of stops on the stop lists were announced on observed rides. The lists did not include downtown stops. The stop lists were not readily available to the drivers. Automated stop announcements systems were not working properly. Monitoring systems overstated number of drivers who were making announcements. Limited remedial/discipline for drivers who failed to make announcements.

Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) June 12-15, 2000.
Policies and procedures regarding stop announcements are inconsistent with the ADA regulations. Stop lists were missing key stops. Overall, 50% of stops were announced. Ride checkers were used to monitor stop announcements and RT aggressively disciplined drivers who failed to make stop announcements.

Unpublished Litigation/Settlements:

VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio, TX)
VIA was sued by Advocacy, Inc. in 1994 for numerous ADA compliance issues which included the failure to announce stops. As a result of the settlement, a set of performance standards and benchmarks were adopted to measure compliance. VIA staff had to undergo a 2-day training from Project ACTION focusing on five activities/areas for complying with stop announcement requirements: management commitment/support, monitoring, input/complaint process, training/coaching, and discipline.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) (Philadelphia, PA)
SEPTA was sued for not calling out stops at major intersections, transfer points, and destinations on its fixed-route buses. SEPTA chose to comply with the law by purchasing automated announcement systems for its new buses.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) (Boston, MA)
The litigation team that sued MBTA was surprised by the issue of stop announcements in part of an overall lawsuit against the accessibility of MBTA’s rail and paratransit services. Up until then, this litigation issue was considered minor. As a result of the settlement, a study was conducted by the American Council of the Blind and funded by Project ACTION. The study included developing a model that identified systemic barriers to compliance. The subject matters areas addressed by the study model are: operator perceptions about calling out stops, supervisor perceptions about calling out stops, management-union support in promoting compliance, existing monitoring and tracking compliance system, consumer complaints and operator disciplinary process, and existing training programs and materials.