What rights do I have as a person with a disability when using public transportation?
As a person with a disability, you have special legal rights when using public transportation. Bus drivers must call out stops, curb the bus and deploy the bus lift upon request. Train and rail personnel must assist you upon request.
Pedestrians with disabilities
Pedestrians with a disability mean a person with a disability who may require the use of a mobility device, service animal, or white cane to travel on the streets, sidewalks, highways, and walkways. Effective January 1, 2018, the law will also change to include travel on "walking, running, or bicycle paths."
How can I contact the CTA, Pace, Metra or RTA to file a complaint, file a compliment or ask a question?
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
To contact the CTA via telephone, call (888) YOUR-CTA ((888) 968-7282) or dial “*-1” from any CTA station pay phone. Press "5" for Elevator Status information or TTY: (888) CTA-TTY1 ((888)-282-8891).
Also, you can speak with the CTA's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Department by calling (312) 681-2608.
You can contact Pace Passenger Services by calling (847) 364-PACE (7223) or TTY: (708) 339-4062, or click here to visit their website. You can email them at Passenger.Services@PaceBus.com. You can also contact them by sending a letter to Pace Headquarters at the following address:
Pace Suburban Bus Service
405 Taft Drive
South Holland, IL 60473
You can contact Metra Passenger Services by calling (312) 322-6777 or TTY: (312) 322-6774, or click here to visit their website. You can also contact them by sending a letter to Metra Passenger Services at the following address:
Metra Passenger Services
547 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60661
Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)
You can contact RTA’s ADA Paratransit certification by calling (312) 663-4357 or (312) 913-3122 (TTY), or click here to visit their website.
What information should I have when I file a complaint (or a compliment)?
Equip for Equality recommends that you ask for a written response and provide the following information whenever you file a complaint or compliment with CTA, RTA, Pace, or Metra:
- Your complete name, address, telephone number, and email address
- A detailed description of the incident
- The time and date of the event
- The Bus, Train, Route And/Or Run Numbers (very important)
- Badge Numbers And Physical Descriptions Of Any Transit Personnel Involved (very important)
- The direction that the train or bus was traveling (Northbound, Eastbound, towards the Loop, etc.)
- Other details, such as location, how long you waited, names and phone numbers of witnesses, the attitudes of the transit personnel involved, etc.
Please remember that a complaint or compliment cannot be acted upon if you have not provided enough information. For example, the CTA may have five male drivers with mustaches assigned to your bus route on the day of the incident and will not be able to follow up on your complaint without either a bus or badge number. Carrying a notepad with you may make the difference between your complaint getting a response or not.
What is the Access Living v. CTA class action Settlement Agreement?
Equip for Equality filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on February 8, 2000, against the CTA under Title II of the ADA and Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to address the CTA’s failure to provide equal access to people with disabilities on its trains and buses.
The plaintiffs were Access Living, the Center for Independent Living for Metropolitan Chicago, and nine individuals with disabilities: seven with mobility impairments, one who is blind, and one who is Deaf. Access Living served as co-counsel in the case, along with Lou Aurichio from Butler, Rubin, Saltarelli and Boyd, and attorney Kathleen Yannias.
On Sept. 20, 2001, following a fairness hearing, U.S. District Court Judge James Holderman approved a far-reaching class-action settlement in the lawsuit. The purpose of the fairness hearing was to give any potential class members an opportunity to either object to or opt out of the settlement. Class Members are all people with mobility, vision, or hearing disabilities who currently use, have used, or have attempted to use CTA’s fixed route bus and rail system, as well as those individuals who have been deterred from such use. Highlights of the settlement terms include:
- Addition of audio-visual equipment on buses to announce bus stop information to riders who have visual impairments or are Deaf or hard of hearing.
- Rehab of all elevators that have been in service for 10 or more years (completed Mar. 31, 2003) & installation of automatic elevator activators, which prevent elevator breakdown due to extreme weather, on all other hydraulic elevators.
- CTA must keep a database of all ADA-related complaints.
- Creation of a brochure for people with disabilities with information for safely and efficiently using the system, as well as the addition of disability-related information to CTA’s system map.
- Monitoring of ADA-related performance by the CTA’s Performance Control Specialists (undercover riders), which includes the two full-time Performance Control Specialists in wheelchairs.
- Changing the CTA’s “Corrective Action Guidelines” to add new procedural, performance and behavioral violations which may require the discipline of its employees. Such as “failure to deploy the lift when requested,” “touching a passenger, a passenger’s assistive device or assistance animal without the permission of the passenger,” “insolence or disrespect to a customer, including those with a disability,” etc.
In January 2002, Equip for Equality, and the CTA together selected Shelley Sandow as the Independent Monitor to compile data and assemble quarterly reports about the CTA’s performance under the Settlement Agreement.
Where can I go for more information?
For more information, click here to visit Equip for Equality's website.
If your incident involves CTA buses or trains, please consider providing information about your incident to Equip for Equality, for our records. After you have contacted the CTA, please write up your incident and send it to Equip for Equality via mail, email or fax to one of the following addresses:
Equip for Equality
20 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60602
Fax (312) 341-0295
Updated: June 2017