[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 161 (Thursday, August 20, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 50593-50594]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-20467]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Office of the Secretary

49 CFR Part 37

[Docket DOT-OST-2015-0075]


Transportation for Individuals With Disabilities; Service 
Criteria for Complementary Paratransit Fares

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary (OST), U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of petition for rulemaking; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document seeks public comments on a petition for 
rulemaking from Access Services concerning the Department's regulations 
implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to 
the method of determining the fare for a trip charged to an ADA 
paratransit eligible user. The petition asks the Department to revise 
its regulation to allow for a ``coordinated'' or two-tier fare 
structure. The current regulation provides that the fare shall not 
exceed twice the fare that would be charged to an individual paying 
full fare for a similar trip on the fixed route system.

DATES: Comments must be received by September 21, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Please submit your comments by only one of the following 
methods:
     Online: Use the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
     U.S. Mail: Send your comments to the Docket Management 
Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: Go to Room W12-140 on the ground 
floor of the West Building, U.S. Department of Transportation 
headquarters, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
Eastern-time, Monday through Friday except Federal holidays.
     Telefax: Send your comments to 202-493-2251.
    Instructions: All comments must include the docket number for this 
rulemaking: DOT-OST-2015-0075. Submit two copies of your comments if 
you submit them by mail. For confirmation that DOT received your 
comments, include a self-addressed, stamped postcard. All comments 
received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, 
including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act 
heading under ``Supplementary Information,'' below, for Privacy Act 
information pertinent to any submitted comments or materials, and you 
may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement published in the 
Federal Register on April 11, 2000, at 65 FR 19477.
    Docket Access: For access to background documents and comments 
received in the rulemaking docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov or 
to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., 
Monday through Friday except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jill Laptosky, Attorney-Advisor, 
Office of General Counsel, U.S. DOT, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., 
Washington, DC 20590, phone: (202) 493-0308, or email, 
[email protected]; or Bonnie Graves, Assistant Chief Counsel for 
Legislation and Regulations, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Transit 
Administration, same address, phone: (202) 366-4011, or email, 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT) received a petition for rulemaking from Access 
Services, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary 
paratransit provider for 44 fixed route transit providers in Los 
Angeles County, California. Access Services uses a ``coordinated'' or 
two-tier fare structure where it generally charges $2.75 for one-way 
trips up to 19.9 miles, and $3.50 for one-way trips of 20 miles or 
more. In some cases, these fares exceed twice the fixed route fare. The 
DOT's ADA regulation at 49 CFR 37.131(c) provides that the fare for a 
trip charged to an ADA paratransit eligible user of the complementary 
paratransit service shall not exceed twice the fare that would be 
charged to an individual paying full fare for a trip of similar length, 
at a similar time of day, on the entity's fixed route system. In recent 
triennial reviews of some fixed route providers in Los Angeles County, 
the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has made findings that the ADA 
paratransit fares exceed twice the fixed route fare. In other words, 
some paratransit riders are paying more for ADA paratransit fares than 
they should be under the Department's existing regulations.

[[Page 50594]]

    Access Services' petition for rulemaking has been placed in the 
docket. Access Services asserts in its petition that its two-tier fare 
structure is simple for riders to understand and easy for Access 
Services and its providers to implement. In its petition, Access 
Services requests that the Department propose amending its ADA 
regulations to allow for a coordinated fare structure as follows:

Proposed Amendment to DOT ADA Regulations

    The Access Services proposes the following addition to 49 CFR 
37.131(c) on service criteria for complementary paratransit:
     Alternatively, the maximum fare that may be charged by an 
entity which administers a coordinated paratransit plan for 20 or more 
fixed route members pursuant to 49 CFR 37.141 and approved pursuant to 
49 CFR 37.147 shall be no more than twice the regional average fixed-
route fare determined as follows:
    [cir] The entity may calculate a regional average fixed-route fare 
by obtaining a statistically-valid, random sample of its recent 
paratransit trips, calculating the applicable fixed-route fare for 
those trips and averaging the results. The sample may be subdivided by 
distance to determine the regional average fixed-route fares for trips 
of a certain mileage.
    The Department's regulations at 49 CFR 5.11 permit any person to 
petition the Secretary to amend a rule. It is solely within the 
discretion of the Secretary to grant or deny such a petition, and the 
Secretary has not yet decided whether or not to grant or deny the 
Access Services' petition. In order to supplement the information 
provided by Access Services in support of its petition for rulemaking, 
the Department is requesting public comments on the issue presented in 
the petition. The Department will use this collective information in 
the development of the technical review that will serve as the basis 
for determining whether to grant or deny the petition.
    The Department is especially interested in hearing from individuals 
who use ADA complementary paratransit services in order to better 
understand how they would be impacted if the Department adopted the 
Access Services' language or similar language. Would a more simplified 
tiered fare system, set by the local transit agencies, be beneficial to 
individuals with disabilities using public transportation in regions 
with multiple fixed route providers? Would any tiered system need to be 
capped at a certain amount (e.g., twice the fare on a comparable fixed 
route trip)? How many tiers would be unmanageable for individuals with 
disabilities?
    The Department is also interested to hear from ADA complementary 
paratransit providers throughout the country. How do these paratransit 
providers, particularly in regions with many fixed-route operators, 
currently determine fares in order to comply with the Department's 
current regulations? What procedures or best practices do they use? 
What challenges do ADA complementary paratransit providers face in 
setting fares under the current regulations? How many fixed-route 
providers do you coordinate with?

    Issued in Washington, DC, this 29th day of July 2015, under 
authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.27(a).
Kathryn B. Thomson,
General Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-20467 Filed 8-19-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-9X-P