Washington, DC: (Jun-28-07) The nonprofit Equal Rights Center brought a lawsuit in 2004 with help from the Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, against Metro's MetroAccess service, alleging that the company offered late and unpredictable service for MetroAccess customers, many of whom are blind or use wheelchairs. In some cases, drivers did not show up at all or took long routes, denying their riders food, water, medication and bathrooms for long periods, according to the complaint.

Metro maintained it complied with the Americans With Disabilities Act, and though it did not admit to the allegations, it agreed to a settlement in which it paid $2.2 million, enabling all 17,000 customers registered with Metro's service for disabled riders to receive 10 free rides. Further, MetroAccess will also expand, offering riders door-to-door service, rather than just curbside pick up and drop off, under terms of the settlement. The settlement calls for Metro to hire consultants to monitor its oversight of the company that provides the MetroAccess service. The 14 plaintiffs named in the suit will each receive $5,000. The value of the free rides is about $2.50 each. [WASHINGTON POST: DISABILITIES VIOLATIONS]

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