Montgomery County to take civil rights complaints about riding bus

Disabled customers of 2 bus companies can get picked up

December 18, 2012
Updated 12:24 a.m.
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— Montgomery County will make civil rights complaint forms available to bus riders in response to a recent program review conducted by the state Department of Transportation.

The county’s Board of Supervisors is expected to review a corrective action plan this week following the DOT’s Federal Programs Remote Compliance Review.

The periodic inspection collects paperwork details from transportation programs that receive federal money, according to Montgomery County economic development specialist Jacqueline Meola.

An inspection at the end of this summer turned up several issues, but none that rose to the level of an “on-site review,” she said. An on-site review is prompted by adequate paperwork or untimely response to questions, according to the state DOT website.

“We actually did pretty good,” Meola said Monday.

The county contracts with Brown Transportation to provide both a commuter bus service and the MAX bus service.

The commuter run, which travels to Albany each day, served 5,500 riders during the third quarter of 2012, while ridership on MAX — Montgomery Area Express — rose to 2,512 during that period, Meola said.

Following the review, she said, the county and Brown Transportation were asked to address five concerns including the lack of a civil rights-specific complaint procedure.

There is a general complaint process already in place for issues like a bus being late or a driver being rude.

But the federal government requires a separate, specific avenue for people who believe their civil rights have been violated due to service, or the lack of service, from the transportation system.

Meola said the remaining issues included clarifying policies that already exist or providing the full text of them.

The county’s response form indicated in error that the service does not provide a way for disabled residents to take the bus, but it does. Meola said the service has a “route deviation” in place — the MAX public transportation route will travel up to 0.75 mile off the route to pick up those with disabilities. Details of that offering are being included in the corrective action plan.

Federal funding comes with a requirement that entities comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.

The correction plan also includes full, written policies on the collection of fares as well as a policy covering the resolution of complaints.

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