ADA Glossary of Terms

imageADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) - Passed in 1990 to ensure the protection of the civil rights of persons with disabilities.

Direct threat - A direct threat is a significant threat to the safety of others that is based not on speculation, but on other ascertainable evidence, and the risk cannot be mitigated through changes in policies and practices.

Disability - As defined by the ADA, a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities such as walking, speaking, hearing, breathing or caring for one’s self.

Fixed route - Transit services that run on regular, pre-scheduled routes, usually with bus schedules and designated bus stops.

Lifts and ramps - Devices on buses that enable a person with a disability to board and deboard the bus.

Personal care attendant - An individual who assists a person with a disability in carrying out his or her life activities.

Proof of eligibility - For reduced fares, either a Medicare card or a Valley Metro Reduced Fare Identification Card.

Public address (PA) system - A sound amplification system on a bus.

Securement system - A configuration of straps and hooks on a bus that are attached to a mobility aid to keep it stable during travel.

Service animal - An animal that has been trained to assist a person with a disability.

Public Transit Policies Regarding Passengers with Disabilities

Passengers with disabilities, bus operators, those who train transit staff and customer service representatives frequently ask questions about transit policies related to serving persons with disabilities. Valley Metro transit providers and users of public transit have worked together to develop this brochure to explain these policies and procedures for the Valley Metro regional transit system.

It is the responsibility of transit providers to ensure that passengers with disabilities receive service comparable to that provided to other passengers and that this service is provided with dignity and respect, without compromising safety or security.

Announcing Bus Stops

If there is a public address (PA) system on the bus, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that it be used to announce bus stops. With or without a PA system, announcements shall be made at half-mile and mile stops, transfer points, major intersections, major destinations and all requested stops.

Bare Feet

All passengers, including those who use mobility aids, are required to wear shoes unless a disability either prevents the wearing of shoes or necessitates that the passenger’s feet be bare.

Boarding Assistance

Operators shall position the bus to make boarding as easy as possible for everyone, minimize the slope of the ramp, and use the bus kneeling option as needed. When required, bus operators shall provide assistance to passengers to negotiate ramps and/or inclines when boarding or deboarding. Before leaving a stop, operators shall ensure that passengers with disabilities are safely boarded.

Boarding and Deboarding Passengers in Mobility Devices

All passengers using mobility devices shall be boarded and deboarded before additional passengers are boarded. All passengers are encouraged to deboard from the rear of the bus.

Bus Operator Training

All bus operators must be trained to be proficient in the safe operation of vehicles and equipment. Operators shall be trained to properly assist persons with disabilities and treat them in a respectful and courteous manner.

Operators need to be familiar with different disabilities and aware of how particular disabilities affect travel. They may also be requested to receive additional sensitivity training as needed.

All fixed-route properties in the Valley Metro system shall conduct mandatory ADA refresher training at least annually for all bus operators. The ADA refresher training, at a minimum, shall consist of the following:

1) one classroom ADA sensitivity training session, and

2) one hands-on check to evaluate operator expertise in the boarding, securement and deboarding of mobility aid devices.

Additionally, all fixed-route operators and transit staff members who are the subject of a validated ADA complaint shall receive specific refresher training tailored to the nature of the complaint. Such training shall be scheduled within 15 calendar days after the completion of the complaint investigation.

Bus Stops

The lift or ramp shall be used at any designated bus stop if requested by a passenger. If the operator makes an initial determination that the bus stop may not be safe or accessible, an attempt shall still be made to deploy the lift.

If the passenger cannot be boarded or deboarded at the bus stop, the operator must communicate the reason to the passenger, notify Operations Control Center (OCC)/radio/dispatch that the board or deboard request cannot be accommodated, and remain at the stop until further instructions have been received and relayed to the passenger.

A passenger should always wait at the designated bus stop to ensure that operators recognize their intent to ride the bus.


Please call (602) 253-5000 or TTY (602) 251-2039 for information regarding fare policy. Information regarding fares can also be found on our Fare Options page.

  • Reduced fares - Passengers who pay a reduced fare must show proof of eligibility upon request.
  • Fare cards - Upon request, operators shall slide fare cards through the farebox reader and return them to the passenger. The operator should do so before leaving the stop.
  • Handling fares - Bus operators may assist in handling fares for passengers with disabilities upon request, but they are not required to retrieve fares from a passenger’s pockets or personal property.
  • Transfer slips - Bus operators shall provide transfer slips to passengers with disabilities prior to leaving the stop.

Forward vs. Backward Mobility Aid Loading

For safety reasons, passengers using mobility aids are encouraged to back onto the lift when boarding; however, passengers are not required to do so. When a ramp is used, the boarding direction is the passenger’s decision.

Maintenance of Lifts and Ramps

Bus operators must test the lift or ramp during the pre-trip inspection. All break downs of accessibility equipment must be reported immediately to OCC/radio/dispatch. Operators shall follow the instructions received upon providing such a report. A vehicle with an inoperable lift or ramp is to be removed from service as soon as possible – no later than the next service day – and not returned to service until repaired.

Mobility Aid Brakes

When occupying a lift or securement area, it is recommended that passengers apply the brakes on their mobility aids; however, they are not required to do so. With power chairs or scooters, it is recommended that the power switch be turned to the “off” position. Again, this is not mandatory.

Mobility Aid Securement

(See the section Transporting Common Mobility Aids for guidance on transporting oversize wheelchairs and scooters.)

Mobility aids must be properly secured whenever possible. Bus operators shall use their best efforts to correctly use the appropriate number of securement points. If the mobility device meets the ADA regulatory definition of a common wheelchair, service shall not be denied because the mobility device cannot be secured to the operator’s satisfaction due to either the awkward position of the securement points, or the design of the mobility device. A passenger may not be refused service based on an inoperable securement system. If the device is not secured, it should remain out of the aisle and movement of passengers. Lap belts and shoulder harnesses shall be offered for the safety of the passenger but are not mandatory. Passengers using mobility devices shall not be denied service based on safety or liability concerns if they refuse to wear the lap belt or shoulder harness, or if the mobility device cannot be completely secured due to the design of the device or difficulty with the securement system.

Passengers using mobility devices may transfer to a vehicle seat if one is available. Passengers using mobility devices are not required to move to a vehicle seat due to securement difficulties that raise safety concerns. Passengers requesting to ride in a specific securement area shall be secured in the area of their choice if that securement area is available and unoccupied by a passenger using a mobility device.

Passengers with Visual Impairments

When waiting at a bus stop, passengers with visual impairments who use a white cane or service animal need to ensure that their cane or dog is visible to approaching bus operators. When the operator observes these aids, the operator must stop the bus, open the door, and state the route and destination of the bus. Operators pulling up to bus stops that serve multiple routes must be particularly careful to announce the route to all passengers waiting at the bus stop. The passenger must let the operator know if the bus is the one that they need to board.

Passengers with Open Sores and Wounds

When using the bus, passengers with disabilities who have health-related open sores and wounds need to ensure that all sores and wounds are properly covered.

Passengers with disabilities who have open sores and wounds shall be transported unless their medical condition presents a direct threat to other passengers. Any passenger, including passengers with disabilities, may be refused access to public transportation if visible body fluid leakage or dripping is occurring while at the bus stop. The passenger may also be requested to exit the bus if leakage or dripping occurs after they have boarded. Such leakage or dripping can create a biohazard to other passengers on the bus.

The existence of wounds and sores may limit securement on all securement points. The operator shall secure as many points as possible and transport the passenger.

Personal Care Attendants

Personal care attendants and companions traveling with a person with a disability are required to pay the same fares that they would pay when riding the bus alone.

Portable Oxygen Use

Individuals with disabilities who use portable oxygen devices are allowed to travel with respirators and properly secured portable oxygen supplies. Oxygen supplies must not obstruct the aisle.

Priority Seating

Upon request, bus operators shall ask - but not require - passengers to yield priority seating at the front of the bus to persons with disabilities and seniors.

Reserved Seating

Mobility aid securement areas on buses are reserved. Passengers using common mobility aids shall be boarded if the securement areas are not otherwise occupied by a mobility device, regardless of the number of passengers on the bus. Bus operators are required to ask passengers sitting in securement areas to move to other available seats or to stand.

Rescue Policy

All Valley Metro fixed-route transit providers shall provide an effective rescue system for passengers with disabilities, needing the use of a lift or ramp, that are stranded due to service interruptions.

If a service interruption is the result of bus lift/ramp failure or other mechanical breakdown, the bus operator shall stop and call OCC/radio/dispatch for instructions and relay those instructions to the passenger before proceeding on the route. If the service interruption will result in the passenger being stranded for more than 30 minutes, a rescue of the passenger shall be conducted. In the months of May through October, every effort shall be made by OCC/radio/dispatch to offer rescue, if possible, to stranded passengers - even if the next bus along the route will arrive in less than 30 minutes.

Vehicles that are dispatched for rescue shall meet the stranded passenger within 30 minutes of the request for rescue. Rescue vehicles shall transport the passenger to a location mutually agreed upon by the passenger and transit staff. Every attempt shall be made by transit staff to ensure that the passenger’s trip is completed successfully. In the case of service interruptions not caused by mechanical failure on the bus, (e.g. all wheelchair securement positions are occupied), the operator shall stop the bus, call OCC/radio/dispatch for instructions and relay instructions to the passenger before proceeding on the route. OCC/radio/dispatch staff shall determine if rescue is required and feasible.

In all cases, OCC/radio/dispatch staff shall check the status of the next available bus. All Valley Metro transit provider staff members shall be trained on the above policy.

Service Animals

Persons with disabilities who use service animals may board with the service animal regardless of fare category. Operators may ask any passenger if their animal is a service animal and/or if the animal assists them with their disability, but may not require certification or identification for service animals. Passengers using service animals must keep their animals under control and the animal must not pose a threat to other passengers. Failure to do so may result in the passenger being requested to exit the bus. If the animal is a pet, it must travel in a carrier.

Transporting Common Mobility Aids

All common mobility aids shall be transported and properly secured. A common mobility aid is any class of three- or four-wheeled device that is usable indoors and designed for and used by individuals with mobility impairments. It may be operated manually or powered. A common mobility aid does not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length (measured two inches above the ground) and does not weigh more than 600 pounds when occupied. Vehicles may not be able to accommodate mobility aids exceeding these standards.

Reasonable efforts shall be made to transport persons in oversized mobility aids. However, transportation cannot always be guaranteed to a person in an oversized mobility aid and suggestions for alternative transportation shall be provided upon request.

Use of Lifts and Ramps

Upon request, bus operators must allow passengers who do not use a mobility aid to use a vehicle’s lift or ramp to enter or exit the vehicle.

General Bus Information

For general bus information and trip planning, call transit information at (602) 253-5000, or TTY (602) 251-2039.

Customer Rights

Customers using public transit are given equal access, seating and treatment without regard to race, color, national origin or disability. These rights also apply to service frequency, vehicle age and quality and bus stop quality (FTA Circular 4702.1).

How to File a Complaint

Customers wishing to file a complaint – including discrimination due to disability, race, color or national origin – may call Customer Relations at (602) 253-5000, or TTY (602) 251-2039.

How Complaints are Processed

In accordance with federal standards (28 CFR Part 35 and FTA Circular 4702.1), all regional transit providers are trained in the correct processing, investigation and documentation of passenger complaints involving discrimination based on disability, race, color or national origin.

All complaints received by Customer Relations are documented and assigned to the appropriate transit staff for investigation. After the complaint is processed, a response is sent to the customer filing the complaint and appropriate corrective action is taken.

We’d like to hear your questions, comments or concerns regarding the Valley Metro system. Please call our Customer Relations Office at (602) 253-5000, or TTY (602) 251-2039 to send your concerns.