Q. Despite the fact that I’ve been a paratransit rider for the past four years, the local transit agency is telling me that I am suddenly too heavy to qualify for their service. They have given me 30 days to appeal their decision. During the past year they have established a 600-pound weight limit for their lifts, and since I am a larger person who uses a sizable motorized wheelchair, I don’t comply with the new weight limitations. Are they allowed to do that? I’m also concerned because they are posting potential changes in the fixed route bus schedules and routing, so there is a possibility that such paratransit services wouldn’t be available to me in the near future anyway. Is there anything that I can do to protect my ability to use paratransit?
A. It has become more common for transit agencies to place weight restrictions on riders to avoid unnecessary damage to their equipment or a lift failure that might result in injury to either passengers or operators. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation Vehicles, the minimum capacity for wheelchair lifts on any type of transportation vehicle is 600 pounds. While many transit agencies are purchasing newer vehicles that have a lift capacity of 750 pounds or greater, that is not mandatory. Rulemaking efforts underway by the Department of Transportation will address this issue, but the final regulations are not available at this time.
When you and your wheelchair were weighed, were all removable accessories taken off the chair? If not, request that they weigh you again. Another option might be to request service using newer vehicles that h