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Is your hotel’s shuttle service ADA compliant?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | ADA |

Oftentimes, the first and last impression a guest has of a hotel is their shuttle service. However, some hotels that take great care to make all areas of their property compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) don’t realize that this compliance needs to extend to any shuttle services they offer their guests.

Whether your hotel (or other business) offers shuttle service to and from local airports or from the hotel to local attractions, or both, this service needs to be available to those with mobility disabilities. Specifically, your shuttle vehicles either need to be wheelchair accessible or you need to provide an equivalent substitute for those with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) provides a detailed guide on compliance for any business that offers transportation services to customers as a convenience.

Understanding “equivalent service”

If you offer a shuttle service but choose not to pay for wheelchair-accessible shuttles, then you need to partner with a company that does provide them and can make them available whenever they’re needed. Part of the equivalency requirement is that a person shouldn’t wait longer than they would for a hotel shuttle to arrive.

Further (and this is where a lot of hotels are not compliant), a disabled guest shouldn’t have to request an accessible shuttle in advance if other guests don’t have to request the hotel shuttle in advance. Realistically, it’s going to take an outside shuttle longer to arrive than a hotel shuttle in the parking garage. However, guests can’t be expected to wait an hour or more for it. That’s not equivalent service.

Some hotels that find these requirements too cumbersome and/or don’t want to run into a liability issue simply don’t offer transportation services to guests. They may have a list of local services (at least some of which need to offer accessible vehicles). If you offer shuttle or other transportation services, however, it’s critical that you remain in compliance with the ADA.

There are, unfortunately, people who make a living off of suing hotels and other businesses for non-ADA compliance. Most disabled travelers, however, just want to enjoy their vacation or get where they’re going for business without running into roadblocks because businesses don’t know the law or choose not to follow it. Having experienced legal guidance in this area can help your business avoid litigation and help you better serve your customers.