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Justice gets involved in JATRAN law suit

JACKSON — The Justice Department is intervening in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Jackson challenging inaccessibility in Jackson’s public transportation system. The pending lawsuit, filed by 11 residents of Jackson with disabilities and two non-profit organizations that work on behalf of people with disabilities, alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (ADA).

The Department’s complaint alleges that the City of Jackson has failed to maintain, promptly repair and keep in operative condition the wheelchair lifts of the city’s fixed route bus system, known as JATRAN, has failed to adequately train personnel to properly assist passengers with disabilities, has failed to provide the required level of service to passengers of Handilift, the ADA complementary paratransit service, and has otherwise denied individuals with disabilities benefits to which they are entitled under the law.

The Department’s complaint details allegations of injury caused by inaccessible public transportation in Jackson. The factual allegations in the Department’s filing include frequent instances where individuals who use wheelchairs are forced to wait while multiple JATRAN buses with inoperable lifts pass them by, often leaving them stranded as they attempted to get to work, to medical appointments and to numerous other essential destinations such as grocery shopping. The government further alleges that the availability of Handilift service to ADA paratransit-eligible persons is significantly limited by capacity constraints, including failure to provide next-day service, failure to plan to meet the demand for paratransit services, a substantial numbers of trip denials, significantly untimely pickups and limitations to telephone reservation capacity.

“The decision of the Department to intervene in this matter indicates our commitment to protect the rights of all Americans and advance the ability of every individual to fully participate in society,” said Stan Harris, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.

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