The ACLU of Southern California today filed a federal lawsuit (Beauchamp vs Los Angeles County MTA) against the Metropolitan Transit Authority and a bus company, Ryder/ATE, Inc., on behalf of five disabled bus riders in Los Angeles County charging that these transportation agencies do not adequately serve disabled riders. The lawsuit charges that the MTA and Ryder/ATE are violating the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1974 Rehabilitation Act by discriminating against riders with mobility impairments.

Ryder/ATE operates several bus lines for the MTA in the Long Beach and Artesia areas of Los Angeles County. Plaintiffs are asking for a declaration that both Ryder/ATE and the MTA have violated federal law. They are also asking for an injunction requiring defendants to give equal access to disabled passengers and to eliminate any discrimination against persons with disabilities who use their buses.

The five plaintiffs are disabled passengers who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Although they have repeatedly complained about defendants' failure to accommodate people with disabilities, none of the alleged conditions have been improved. According to the lawsuit, Ryder/ATE, Inc. and the MTA have refused to accommodate disabled bus riders, subjecting them to hazardous conditions that have resulted in physical injuries, humiliation, emotional distress, and monetary loss. Specifically, Ryder/ATE, Inc. and the MTA have failed to repair and maintain the equipment which allows passengers using wheel chairs to board and exit buses. The doors used by disabled passengers are frequently malfunctioning or broken. The clamps used to secure wheelchairs of disabled riders are frequently missing, broken or malfunctioning.

The ACLU is also charging that Ryder/ATE, Inc. and MTA bus drivers are not adequately trained to serve disabled passengers or to operate the equipment which the disabled need to use the buses. Plaintiffs allege that bus drivers often fail or refuse to pick them up at bus stops and that the bus stops are poorly maintained, making it very difficult for disabled riders to board and leave the buses safely.

The federal lawsuit claims that these transportation agencies are violating the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1974 Rehabilitation Act. The ADA was enacted to dismantle all forms of discrimination which prevent disabled individuals from obtaining opportunities, participation, independence and economic self-sufficiency. Further, because Ryder/ATE, Inc. and the MTA receive federal funds, they are subject to the 1990 Rehabilitation Act which demands full inclusion for individuals with disabilities by those agencies receiving federal funds.

Ryder/ATE, Inc., a Delaware corporation, operates at least seven bus lines for the Metropolitan Transit Authority, including bus lines regularly used by plaintiffs. The MTA was created by the California State Legislature to administer, plan, and provide transportation services for Los Angeles County.

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