U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Contact: Candice Tolliver
Tel: 202-366-9999 or 202-306-4580
USDOT and USDOJ Fines Omnibus Express $55,000 for Violating Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Requirements
Commercial Bus Company Found Operating Without Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced $55,000 in fines against Omnibus Express, a commercial passenger bus company based in Houston, Texas, for operating buses not accessible to passengers with disabilities.
Omnibus Express was found in violation of passenger carrier accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition to the fine, the consent agreement issued by FMCSA and DOJ requires the bus company to upgrade its fleet to meet ADA requirements by July 1, 2011 or have its operating authority revoked.
“This case makes it crystal clear that we will vigorously pursue commercial bus companies that attempt to evade ADA accessibility requirements,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Every individual has the right to fair and equitable transportation services.”
An extensive investigation conducted by FMCSA uncovered that none of Omnibus Express’s fleet of 85 leased buses was equipped with wheelchair lifts. Additionally, in the past 12 months, the bus company leased 22 new buses that were not accessible by individuals with disabilities. ADA regulations require that at least 50 percent of a carrier’s buses be accessible, and all new buses leased or purchased must be accessible by individuals with disabilities.
“Equal access to transportation is at the cornerstone of autonomous and independent living, and this agreement demonstrates the strong commitment both the Justice Department and the Department of Transportation have to joint enforcement of the requirements that make transportation accessible to all,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.
“Thousands of people rely every day on motorcoaches and other types of commercial passenger buses to travel where they need to go safely and efficiently,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We owe it to the traveling public to vigorously enforce ADA requirements, and ensure commercial buses are safe and accessible for everyone.”
In February 2009, FMCSA and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the enforcement of commercial passenger buses. The memorandum between the two agencies was included in the Over-the-Road Bus Transportation Accessibility Act of 2007 and is designed to ensure consistent ADA enforcement nationwide.