Aug. 29 – The US Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement with Hawaii County to resolve a complaint that the county’s transportation services did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the terms of the agreement, the county and its local transport authority must service, promptly repair, and maintain vehicle elevators on fixed-line buses; Take action to accommodate people with disabilities when accessibility features such as elevators are not working; and announce stops on all fixed routes to ensure blind people know their location.
The agreement contains additional provisions that drivers of transit systems undergo ADA training and report compliance to the requirements to the Department of Justice.
The agreement is in response to an investigation opened by the federal agency after receiving a complaint alleging that the transportation services provided by the Mass Transit Agency were not ADA compliant. The investigation corroborated allegations of deficiencies in the Island of Hawaii fixed-route Hele-On bus service, which included buses that were often used with inoperative elevators.
“In numerous cases, MTA has restarted buses with non-functioning elevators on subsequent service days without successful repairs being carried out, even for periods of more than 30 days,” said the Justice Department.
It also found that bus companies do not routinely advertise transfer points, key intersections, and destination points and intervals along a route to help people with disabilities.
Federal officials found a significant number of early pickups and returns from the county’s paratransit service known as Hele-On Kakoo Paratransit.
John Andoh, interim administrator for the Mass Transit Agency, said there was an action plan in place to address the issues and that a number of the terms in the settlement agreement had been resolved.
“We are reviewing the final agreement and using the action plan as a tool to implement the agreement,” Andoh said.
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“We are excited to be working with the DOJ in finalizing the agreement,” he added.
The county has 49 fixed route vehicles in its fleet operated by contractor Roberts Hawaii and seven paratransit vehicles operated by contractor Ace One Taxi.