Accessible Public Transit

Public transportation is especially important for people with physical disabilities, but it has long been least accessible to them. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a number of federal laws were passed to make public transportation accessible for people with mobility problems. In response, the Law Center joined with Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania (DIA) and other disability rights advocates to ensure the new laws were fully implemented.

The coalition filed Disabled in Action v. William T. Coleman in 1976, arguing that fully accessible, low-floored, ramped bus was the only model that could meet the requirements of the law. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) initially resisted, but a new Secretary of DOT taking office in 1977 issued a policy decision mandating accessible busses. The case was declared moot, and though the policy was not fully implemented, litigation of the matter ended. Unfortunately, later changes in DOT regulations again threatened to severely limit access to public transit.

Case Progress

Law Center filed suit challenging new DOT regulations that unfairly segregated people with disabilities

Challenged SEPTA’s refusal to allow people in wheelchairs to use regional rail without a companion

Under new DOT regulations, segregated paratransit services were built and inadequate

SEPTA did not install elevators upon the renovation of the Broad Street subway line