Accessible Public Transportation
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives people with disabilities many important rights in the area of transportation. This fact sheet is limited to public transportation systems.
For more information on your rights in private transportation (taxis and private bus lines), please see Disability Rights South Carolina’s fact sheet on ADA Title III or contact one of the resources listed on our contact sheet.
If you have a disability, you are entitled to the same right to use and enjoy public transportation as people without disabilities. The local transit provider has a duty to make public transportation accessible. Here are some examples of things that are needed to make a transportation system accessible.
- Public buses need to be accessible to those in wheelchairs.
- Drivers need to announce their stops out loud to benefit visually impaired persons who ride the bus.
- Telephones, drinking fountains, and restrooms inside the terminal should also be accessible.
If the local transit authority cannot adequately serve its clients with disabilities in its regular system, it is required to create a parallel transportation system for people with disabilities. This system is referred to as a paratransit system.
Paratransit systems are curb-to-curb demand-responsive systems. What this means is that you should be able to schedule a trip, be picked up at your door, taken to your destination and then returned home. You should be able to schedule your ride just twenty-four hours in advance. Your pick-up time should be within one hour before or after your desired departure time. You should not be asked to schedule your trip during off peak hours. The transit authority should put additional vans and buses on the road during peak
hours to keep up with the demand.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against based on your disability by your local transit provider, you should write a letter or send an email to the manager describing the problem. Keep a copy of the letter or email so that you can have it later to prove that you complained. Sending a letter or email may prompt a quicker, more positive response from the manager. After receiving your letter or email, the manager may call you to discuss your problem. If the manager feels it appropriate, the manager will arrange a meeting to discuss your problem with you.
If you have attempted to work out your problem with the local transportation provider and are unsatisfied with the results, you may file a complaint with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). You are not required to contact the local transit provider before filing a complaint with the FTA but it is probably a good idea to do so in most cases.
If you choose to file an FTA complaint, the complaint form requires you to give yes/no answers to some questions and to give written explanation to others. You should spend some time thinking about your responses before writing them. You may want to write a rough draft of your comments before you enter them on the form. Doing a draft insures accuracy and clarity, allowing you to make your case in the most favorable light possible. You may get a copy of the complaint form here. You can also contact Disability Rights SC for a copy of the form.
You also may have the right to file a lawsuit against your transit provider. For more information about this, you should contact a private attorney. If you do not know of one you would like to use you may contact the Lawyer Referral Service at either (803) 799-7100 or toll-free 1-800-868-2284.
If you receive SC Medicaid, it provides special no-cost transportation to medical appointments or to the drug store. “Logisticare” is the company that arranges these trips. Contact them at:
Region 1 (Upstate): (866) 910-7688
Region 2 (Midlands): (866) 445-6860
Region 3 (Lowcountry/Coastal): (866) 445-9954
Statewide TTY: (866) 288-3133
For more information, visit their website.
For more information, you may find the following resources helpful:
Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
Office of Civil Rights
Federal Transit Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590
Phone: (888) 446-4511
South Carolina Department of Transportation list of public transit agencies can be found here.
Disability Rights South Carolina is the Protection and Advocacy System for South Carolina. This publication provides legal information but is not intended to be legal advice. As the law may change, please contact Disability Rights South Carolina for updates. Please let us know if you would like this information in an alternative format.
This publication was made possible by funding, in part, by SAMHSA. These contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of SAMHSA.
Last updated: 2023