Ground Transportation and Guide Dogs

Transit entities are covered by a federal law called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and must permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities. Entities covered under Title II of the ADA include publically-operated services such as buses, subways, Amtrak, commuter railroads, and Paratransit.

Private transportation services covered under Title III of the ADA include Over-the-Road Buses such as Greyhound; taxicabs and limos; shuttles; tour buses; and rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.

Keep in mind that the Department of Transportation’s definition of service animal is not restricted to dogs only. Passengers with disabilities may be accompanied by legitimate service animals such as cats, birds etc. as long as the animal meets the DOT’s definition of a service animal. A transportation provider may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person's disability. A service animal may not be excluded unless the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to control it or the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. It is important for service animal handlers to remember that keeping an animal under control includes knowing how to board with the animal and position it appropriately in the vehicle so that it does not block aisles or exits. Allergies, fear of dogs, and religious or cultural beliefs are not valid reasons for refusing to transport passengers with service animals.

The DOT’s Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division work to ensure that both public and private transportation providers offer service in a manner that does not discriminate against customers or potential customers with disabilities. Common examples of discriminatory conduct include:

  • Charging extra fees for "cleaning" or higher fares to customers with service animals
  • Asking a customer to disclose that he or she will be accompanied by a service animal
  • Segregating customers with service animals from other passengers
  • Refusing to transport more than one person accompanied by a service animal together in the same vehicle
  • Placing restrictions on the vehicles in which customers accompanied by service animals are transported
  • Making customers with service animals wait longer than other passengers before providing transportation services

Questions and complaints about public transportation should be directed to the DOT’s Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights at (888) 446-4511. Questions and complaints about private transportation services should be directed to The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section at (800) 514-0301.