Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of transportation services by public and private entities.  42 U.S.C. §§12101 et seq.  The ADA sets out different responsibilities for the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) and the Department of Transportation with respect to implementing the statute.

The ADA requires the Access Board to issue guidelines for transportation vehicles that are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.  42 U.S.C. §12204.  These guidelines, by themselves, are not legally enforceable and do not require existing transportation vehicles to be retrofitted.1

The ADA requires the Department of Transportation to issue regulations that specify:

The ADA requires the accessibility standards for transportation vehicles included in the Department of Transportation’s regulations to be consistent with the guidelines issued by the Access Board.  42 U.S.C. §12149, 12163, 12186 (c).  The Department of Transportation’s regulations are legally enforceable.

Prior Rulemaking

The Access Board issued accessibility guidelines for transportation vehicles in 1991 and amended the guidelines in 1998 to include additional requirements for over-the-road buses (i.e., buses characterized by an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment).  56 FR 45530, September 6, 1991; 63 FR 51694, September 28, 1998.  The Access Board’s transportation vehicle guidelines are codified at 36 CFR part 1192.

The Department of Transportation issued regulations to implement the transportation provisions of the ADA in 1991.  56 FR 45621 and 45756, September 6, 1991.  The Department of Transportation’s regulations are codified at 49 CFR parts 37 and 38.  The Department of Transportation’s regulations at 49 CFR part 37 specify in:

The Department of Transportation’s regulations in 49 CFR Part 38 set out the accessibility standards that the transportation vehicles must meet.  The accessibility standards in 49 CFR Part 38 are consistent the Access Board’s transportation vehicle guidelines in 36 CFR Part 1192.

Proposed Rule

The Access Board is issuing this proposed rule to revise and update its accessibility guidelines for buses, over-the-road buses, and vans (hereinafter referred to as the “1991 guidelines”).  The guidelines for transportation vehicles operated in fixed guideway systems (e.g., rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, and intercity rail) will be revised and updated at a future date.

The proposed rule addresses the following issues, which are further discussed later in the preamble:

The proposed rule also removes some requirements in the 1991 guidelines that are unnecessary, modifies other requirements, and adds a few new requirements.  A side-by-side comparison of the 1991 guidelines and the proposed rule is available on the Access Board’s website at  The side-by-side comparison shows what requirements are removed, modified, or new.