Bus company fined for failing passenger accessibility standards

The Department of Justice fined a Houston bus company $55,000 for lacking services to ensure access for people with disabilities.

The company must upgrade by July 2011 or its operating authority will be stripped, the Department of Justice and Transportation announced in a March 9 news release.

An investigation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that none of Omnibus Express’ 85 busses contain wheelchair lifts. In the previous year, 22 new busses were leased or purchased that didn’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

Federal law requires that all new buses leased or purchased be disability accessible, as well as at least 50 percent of the company’s overall fleet.

“Every day, thousands of people rely on motorcoaches and other types of commercial passenger buses to travel where they need to go safely and efficiently,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in the release. “We owe it to the traveling public to make sure commercial buses are safe and accessible for everyone.”

In 2009, the Justice Department and FMSCA entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding oversight of ADA accessibility requirements in commercial passenger busses. The memorandum was part of the Over-the-Road Bus Transportation Accessibility Act of 2007, which created a registration requirement for bus companies to comply with the ADA.