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US Attorney's Office in North Dakota reaches settlement agreement with bus service over ADA complaint

The agreement was reached with Jefferson Lines over a complaint that a driver refused to give a passenger using a walker access to the bus lift.

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Bill Peterson rolls baggage to a waiting bus Dec. 5, 2014, at the Jefferson Lines Bus Terminal at the Stamart travel center near Interstate-29 on 12th Avenue North, Fargo.
Forum file photo
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FARGO — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota has announced that it entered into a settlement agreement with a bus transit service to resolve a complaint that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The agreement, announced by Interim U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Chase on Tuesday, March 8, was reached with Jefferson Partners L.P., doing business as Jefferson Lines, according to a news release.

The ADA complaint alleged a Jefferson Lines bus driver refused to allow a passenger using a walker to access a lift at the rear of the bus to exit the vehicle.

The complaint said the driver instead required the passenger to walk from the back to the front of the bus and use the stairs to exit, all without the assistance of the walker.

During its investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office learned that between January 2017 and August 2020, Jefferson Lines received 24 customer complaints regarding disability access issues.

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Eight of those were complaints that a bus lift failed to work or a driver failed to properly operate a lift.

Under terms of the settlement agreement, Jefferson Lines will train bus drivers and those who operate lifts on ADA requirements, ensure each such employee can operate accessibility features and that they be tested on those features.

The company also must test all fixed-route vehicles weekly to ensure all accessibility features work and remove faulty vehicles from service until they can be repaired.

Jefferson Lines agreed to compensate the complainant $5,000 for the violation of the complainant’s rights under the ADA, the release said.

Chase commended Jefferson Lines for its cooperation, saying the corrective measures will give people with disabilities better access to transportation in North Dakota and around the United States.

“We hope other transportation providers remain focused on compliance with this important civil rights law,” Chase said in the statement.

Fleets of all large, fixed-route over-the-road bus operators, such as Jefferson Lines, have been required to be 100% readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities since Oct. 29, 2012.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Vavrosky Iversen represented the U.S. in this matter.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office said anyone who wishes to file a possible ADA complaint may do so at www.ada.gov or contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 701-297-7400.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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