The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. Public transportation agencies receiving federal funding are required to comply with the ADA, and, as applicable, with Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations implementing the ADA.
On October 5, 2015, FTA issued a notice of availability of a circular detailing its requirements for grantees under the ADA. Americans With Disabilities Act: Final Circular, 80 Fed. Reg. 60,224 (Oct. 5, 2015). Circular 4710.1 becomes effective November 4, 2015. The final draft of Circular 4710.1 comes after FTA issued various sections of the draft circular in several phases starting in October 2012 (see 77 Fed. Reg. 60,170 (Oct. 2, 2012); 79 Fed. Reg. 9,585 (Feb. 19, 2014); 79 Fed. Reg. 67,234 (Nov. 12, 2014)). The final Circular reflects a number of changes to clarify positions and respond to public input on draft chapters of the circular. In releasing Circular 4710.1, FTA emphasizes that it is merely providing additional guidance regarding compliance with ADA, and is not creating new requirements for grantees. In the Circular, FTA has endeavored to clearly differentiate between existing regulatory requirements and non-mandatory best practices.
Several sections of Circular 4710.1 are particularly relevant for owners and operators of passenger rail systems, either because they apply generally to all FTA funding recipients or because they deal specifically with passenger transportation by rail. These include: