A.G. Schneiderman Secures Agreement With National Bus Company To Ensure Equal Access For People With Disabilities
Eastern Coach Will Revise Policies And Train Employees To Ensure Individuals With Disabilities Are Not Denied Full And Equal Access To Its Services
Schneiderman: My Office Is Committed To Protecting Individuals With Disabilities From Discrimination
NEW YORK– Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Eastern Coach, a bus company that operates in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington D.C., to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same access to transportation as all New Yorkers. After an investigation into Eastern Coach’s practices, the Attorney General’s office determined that employees were not adequately trained on the requirements of the law and had told customers that they could not provide service to individuals in wheelchairs. Today’s settlement will ensure that all future requests for accessible transportation are handled in accordance with the law.
“Without equal access to transportation, people with disabilities across our state are unable to work, visit loved ones, address medical needs, or enjoy full independent living,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This agreement helps pave the way for people with disabilities to access affordable intercity transportation and puts other companies on notice that violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act will not be tolerated."
Advocates estimate that there are approximately 60,000 wheelchair users in New York City alone. Reports also make clear that individuals with disabilities face ongoing challenges in finding accessible transportation across the state. As increased air and rail transit fares have led individuals to rely more heavily on intercity bus service, especially between large metropolitan areas, a greater degree of vigilance is required to monitor intercity bus companies and enforce compliance with the ADA.
Accordingly, in 2011, the Attorney General launched an undercover investigation into whether Eastern Coach provided accessible transportation to individuals with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs. The investigation revealed that Eastern Coach ticket agents advised customers that it did not have accessible buses and that it could not accommodate individuals who use wheelchairs. The evidence also revealed that customers who purchased tickets through third-party websites faced significant barriers when attempting to notify Eastern Coach that they needed an accessible bus.
The settlement requires Eastern Coach to create new policies consistent with its obligations under the ADA, provide training to all employees about the requirements of the ADA, and pay costs to the State of New York. Attorney General Schneiderman credits Eastern Coach for its cooperation and willingness to adopt new policies and properly train its employees.
Susan Dooha, Executive Director at Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York,said, “Individuals with disabilities, including many who are elderly and veterans, experience firsthand the need for affordable and accessible transportation. We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s efforts at making accessibility a priority in his Office and ensuring equal access.”
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Sunita Kini-Tandon and Volunteer Assistant Attorney General Jacob Segall, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke, Chief Counsel for Civil Rights Spencer Freedman, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel.
The Civil Rights Bureau is committed to combating discrimination faced by and promoting accessibility for individuals with disabilities across New York State. To file a complaint, contact the Attorney General's Office at 212-416-8250, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.ag.ny.gov.
A copy of today’s agreement is available online at: http://www.ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/press-releases/2012/AOD - EASTERN COACH IN.pdf