A.G. Schneiderman Secures Agreements With Two Regional Bus Companies To Ensure Equal Access For Persons With Disabilities

United Coach Lines And Omega Express Will Ensure That New Yorkers With Disabilities Receive The Same Access To Bus Service As All New Yorkers

Schneiderman: My Office Is Committed To Ensuring Equal Access For Individuals With Disabilities

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced settlements with two New York City-based charter bus companies, United Coach Lines, Inc., and Omega Express, Ltd., under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both companies operate in New York and several neighboring states. After conducting an investigation into the practices of United Coach Lines and Omega Express, the Attorney General concluded that both had failed to provide services to individuals with disabilities as required by the ADA. Today's agreements will ensure that, going forward, both companies provide access to transportation in accordance with the law.

“Twenty-three years following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, equity in access to transportation remains an important civil rights issue,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. "My office is committed to achieving full compliance with accessibility laws and requirements to help ensure that all New Yorkers are able to lead full and independent lives. These agreements put all providers of transportation service on notice that they must comply with the law in New York State."

Nationally, adults with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to have inadequate access to transportation (31 percent vs. 13 percent), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of the nearly 2 million people with disabilities who are largely confined to their homes, 560,000 almost never leave home because of difficulties related to transportation access, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. As part of his continuing efforts to close these gaps and ensure transportation access, the Attorney General has been actively investigating the accessibility of inter-city bus companies across New York. The ADA requires that charter bus companies provide the same service to all customers, regardless of their disability status. Specifically, companies must generally be able to provide accessible transportation to customers with disabilities who request service at least 48 hours in advance.

The Attorney General's investigation revealed that United Coach Lines and Omega Express did not have accessible buses and could not provide buses with wheelchair lifts within the time periods required by law. The ticket agents further failed to make referrals to another bus company who could provide wheelchair accessible service.

Under the settlement, Omega Express agreed to purchase and retain a wheelchair accessible bus -- the first and only such bus among its fleet. Omega Express also agreed to train its employees to comply with the company's ADA obligations. United Coach will contract with a third party bus company to provide accessible service and pay a penalty of $5000 to the State of New York. United Coach will also create new policies consistent with the company's obligations under the ADA and train its employees on the new policy and on complying with the requirements of the ADA.

Omega Express, Ltd., is headquartered at 424 Hoyt Street in Brooklyn. United Coach Lines’ main offices are at 708 Third Avenue in Manhattan. The bus charter and rental companies operate in the New York Tri-state area and across the country.

Chris Hilderbrant, Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Disability Rights, Inc.,said, “Individuals with disabilities have the right to the same transportation services that all New Yorkers receive, and promoting accessible transportation and policies that ensure accessible transportation are important goals that our state must continue to work towards. Attorney General Schneiderman's leadership and work to enforce the ADA are helping to make transit accessibility a reality for persons with disabilitiesacross New York State."

As part of his push for equal access, Attorney General has secured two other settlements with bus companies in New York in the past year. Please see the following links here and here for further information.

The case is being handled by Volunteer Assistant Attorney General Ajay Saini, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke and First Deputy of Affirmative Litigation 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, civil.rights@ag.ny.gov, or visit www.ag.ny.gov.

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