Answer: U.S. DOT requires that transit agencies provide transportation for all people with disabilities, and must transport the wheelchair and occupant if the lift and vehicle can accommodate the wheelchair and occupant [Section 37.165(b)(1)]. Transit agencies should know the capacities of their lifts and vehicles.
For ADA complementary paratransit, transit agencies should disclose such information in the application materials. The best way to figure this out is to try to board the person. Transit operators can request to test this before a trip (for example, as part of the ADA complementary paratransit eligibility determination process) if there are legitimate concerns about the whether a person is able to safely board the bus.
Before attempting board a passenger on fixed route, ADA complementary paratransit, or demand response bus service, transit agency personnel could validate the design load of the lift specifications and ask the passenger if the combined weight of the occupied wheelchair exceeds this amount. If the operator is unable to safely board the passenger with the mobility device, based on legitimate concerns related to space or weight capacity of the equipment, the passenger could be notified that they cannot be carried, and offered the option to board separately from the mobility device, with the assistance of a personal care attendant (PCA) operating the mobility device. Any denial of service to a passenger must be documented and a detailed description of the reason for denial must be kept on file and provided to the passenger. In the case of ADA Complementary Paratransit eligibility denial, the passenger must have an opportunity to appeal the decision [Section 37.125(g)].
In some cases, passengers may be able to board separately from their mobility devices. However, this may necessitate the assistance of a PCA, which a transit agency is not required to provide. For additional discussion, see Section 2.4.1 of the FTA ADA Circular.