On January 24, the Senate confirmed Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao with a vote of 93-6. The Department of Transportation’s mission is to “Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.“
On January 24, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee voted unanimously to recommend the full Senate confirm Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation. The Department of Transportation’s mission is to “Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.
On January 11, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee will a hearing on the nomination of Elaine Chao to be the Secretary of the Department of Transportation. The Department’s mission is to “Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a final rule requiring all new hybrid or electric vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less make an audible noise when traveling at speeds up to 19 miles per hour. The purpose of the rule is to ensure that pedestrians, especially those who are blind or have low vision, are aware of vehicles as they approach. When a vehicle travels above 19 miles per hour it will make enough noise to be heard. With some phase-in, full compliance is required by September 1, 2019.
Paralyzed Veterans of America is conducting a survey to gather input for the Department of Transportation’s ACCESS Committee on barriers to the accessibility of airplane bathrooms. The purpose of the survey is to determine the impact on people with disabilities and to try to make a case for requiring accessible lavatories on single-aisle airplanes. While preliminary results are due to the committee on July 22, the survey will remain open until August 1.
The Department of Transportation announced that it would create the Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee). The ACCESS Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives from the disability community, airline industry and other stakeholders who will negotiate and develop a proposed rule concerning accommodations for air travelers with disabilities. The issues to be addressed are inflight entertainment, accessible lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft and service animals. The Committee will meet for the next six months to see if it can come to consensus on new rules addressing these issues.
On April 19, the Senate passed a bill to reauthorize the FAA. The bill includes provisions designed to improve the air travel experience for passengers with disabilities, including a review of airline policies regarding training for employees on assistance for people with disabilities and the creation of an Advisory Committee on the Air Travel Needs of Passengers with Disabilities. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Commitee has passed its version out of committee and it awaits action on the House floor.
A claims process is now available to compensate individuals who were refused service due to their disability or were not provided reasonable accommodations by Greyhound Lines, Inc. This compensation is available as the result of a consent decree between the Department of Justice and Greyhound Lines, Inc. for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To be eligible, an individual must have traveled or attempted to travel on Greyhound between February 8, 2013 and February 8, 2016, experienced discrimination based on their disability, and submit a claim form no later than November 10, 2016. Instructions are available at the Claims Administrator’s website. The Claims Administrator can be contacted by email, by phone at 844-502-5953 or 800-659-2656 (TTY), or by mail at U.S. v. Greyhound Claims Administrator, c/o Class Action Administration LLC, PO Box 6878, Broomfield, CO 80021. Individuals should contact the administrator for assistance if they are unable to complete the form due to a disability.
Greyhound Lines Inc. has entered into a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including failure to maintain lifts and other accessibility features, failure to assist passengers with disabilities getting on and off the bus, and refusing travel reservations made by people with disabilities. The settlement includes a $75,000 fine and $300,000 in compensation to passengers. Additionally, Greyhound has agreed to improve its online booking system and conduct mandatory ADA training.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered United Airlines to pay $2.75 million as a result of the carrier’s notable increase in disability complaints filed in 2014. These grievances were uncovered while the Department was investigating United’s compliance with the Air Carrier Access Act. Many of the violations concerned United’s failure to provide appropriate assistance to fliers when boarding and disembarking planes. Others cited failure to return wheelchairs and other mobility aids in a timely fashion to travelers. If you would like to read more about the grievances as well as United’s plans to improve access for people with disabilities, you may do so here.