LA Metro Transit Authority (“Metro”) forcing seriously Disabled Passengers to stand on Buses – Part 1 of a Series of Stories about the wrongful actions and omissions of “Metro’s” Management and Employees.

by Terry Richards

Making Disabled Passengers Stand.

Making Disabled Passengers Stand.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) 49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 37.5 states in pertinent part that:

The public transit system must offer priority seating for persons with disabilities, but cannot require a person with a disability to use designated ‘priority seating’ if that person does not want to use those seats.”

What is Priority Seating?

Priority seating is seating that is designated for persons using mobility devices (i.e. wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers with seats, etc.). Priority seating allows persons using such devices to sit in their wheelchairs, scooter, etc., without having to physically transfer into another seat. However, people whose disability is less noticeable and who have mobility problems or need to sit close to the bus driver may also use priority seating.

Therefore, based upon all of the above and other sections of the ADA, before passengers with a “Mobility Device” board a “Metro” bus, “Metro” bus drivers should first ask those passengers already sitting in the “priority seating” if they have mobility problems or need to sit close to the bus driver for other reasons due to their disability or disabilities. If all or some answer yes and there is no room for the “Mobility Device” the bus driver is suppose to advise the persons with the “Mobility Devices” that they will have to wait for the next bus that has available “priority seating”.

But every day, the Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority and their bus drivers seriously Violate the ADA by evicting passengers with serious physical disabilities from “priority seating” for passengers with “Mobility Devices” without even inquiring whether those passengers are seriously disabled to the extent that they need to sit down during the remainder of the bus until they reach their final destination.

This Writer who has used public transportation in Los Angeles for almost 2-years has never seen any bus driver ask the above question even when it is obvious that some or all of the passengers whom are already sitting in “priority seating” area are disabled and can’t stand by the mere fact that they have a cane or are wearing a leg brace, or a spinal brace as I wear, or that they are elderly and frail, among other things. These drivers just tell everyone sitting it “priority seating” that do not have at least a walker mobility device to simply get up to make room for the “Mobility Devices” boarding the bus.

So next time, unless the bus driver finds you another seat on board in which you would feel comfortable, if you are asked to move by the bus driver because he or she says there is a wheelchair, scooter or walker coming on board, and you yourself have a “Mobility Disability” or other Disbility that requires you to be in the “Priority Seating” area, and the bus driver asks you to get up, just say NO and explain to the bus driver that you have a “Mobility Disability”. 

Even if the driver says he or she is going to call the Police. Your failure to move is not a Criminal Violation but rather only a Civil Matter, and one which you would PREVAIL in at a Civil Cause of Action in Court as long as you could prove that you had a Disability that required you to be seated in the “Priority Seating” area as explained herein, and also could possibly be awarded damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering and mental anguish againt Metro” in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on whether the bus driver used scare tactics or force to try and get you out of the said seat and/or whether he called the Police to handle the situation.

Finally, can we only blame the bus drivers for these egregious Violations of ADA? The answer is no, we cannot… It is the Management of Metro to not only make sure that their bus drivers are totally informed and trained about the ADA as it applies to Buses, but also to make sure that it is implemented by them each and every time the ADA applies…