Commissioner David Beaulieu of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has charged that the Regional Transit Board (RTB) as a provider of public services, discriminated on the basis of disability when it implemented fare increase and other changes in service on July 1, 1991.
This action is a charge under the Minnesota Human Rights Act and is not a lawsuit or court action. Neither is it enforcement of the ADA regulations which are federal rules. There no “cease and desist” orders in place pending final outcome of the charge. RTB has the option of entering into conciliation proceedings with the Department and these are already being set in motion.
Michael Ehrlichmann, chairman of RTB, has been quoted as welcoming the action and saying that he did not intend to challenge it. Rather, it appears that RTB may be able to use the finding of discrimination to force more realistic funding of the program when the state legislature reconvenes in January.
Morgan Grant of the United Handicapped Foundation said his organization sees this as a victory for people with disabilities.
The Transit Task Force of UHF has been meeting with riders, the RTB, providers of services, and the governor’s staff for months to no avail. Grant says UHF urges a quick response to the ruling so Metro Mobility riders can return to normal lives.
Governor Carlson’s office said he would have no comment on the action of the Human Rights Department.