The Virgin Island Transit (VITRAN) is committed to taking reasonable measures to ensure that all passengers and the public enjoy the public transportation services provided by VITRAN and are able to utilize VITRAN facilities with ease and comfort. VITRAN has designed this policy to assist those qualified individuals with disabilities who use service animals to better utilize the fixed route bus services, paratransit services and VITRAN facilities.
Service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of individuals with disabilities, and it is VITRAN’s policy to welcome any service animal that is trained to assist an individual with a disability on fixed route buses, paratransit vehicles, and in VITRAN’s public facilities. This policy is designed to assist VITRAN employees and qualified individuals with disabilities in complying with State and Federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its amendments.
Therapy, comfort or emotional support animals are not considered service animals for the purpose of using public transportation. These animals and pets may board in six-sided kennels or carriers.
Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.3, “service animal” is defined as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows VITRAN operators to ask this question:
“What is your service animal trained to do?”
“Direct Threat” means a significant risk of substantial harm to the health and safety of other individuals.
“Person with a Disability” means an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual; an individual with a record of such impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.
“User/Owner” means an individual with a disability who requires assistance with one or more daily life activities from a service animal, or service animals.
“Service Animal” means any dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including psychiatric, cognitive or mental disabilities. Possible tasks that service animals may perform include but are not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired to the presence of people or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, fetching dropped items, assisting an individual during a seizure, retrieving medicine or alerting the individual to a telephone call, providing physical support to assist with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities and assisting individuals including those with cognitive disabilities with navigation. A service animal is not a pet or a comfort animal.
The user/owner boarding a VITRAN vehicle with a service animal may not be charged an extra fee for the service animal. .
The user/owner must be in control of the service animal(s) at all times.
The service animal(s) must be appropriately trained and be able to perform its tasks for the benefit of the user/owner.
There is no specific requirement about how to board a service animal onto the bus or paratransit vehicle. The bus operator, or paratransit operator should ask the user/owner how he/she would like to board with his/her service animal(s), and follow the requested procedures, if appropriate, and reasonable. An operator may call Dispatch for assistance.
Users/owners with service animals may not be required to sit in a specified area.
As long as they are not blocking aisles or exits or interfering with other passengers entering, exiting or riding VITRAN vehicles, service animals may sit or lie:
a. At their user/owner’s feet, under the seat;
b. Directly beside their user/owner’s mobility aid (e.g., wheelchair, walker, scooter);
c. Between their user/owner’s knees;
d. On their user/owner’s lap; or
e. In some type of pouch or carrier.
Service Animals are not permitted to ride in or on VITRAN bus seats or paratransit vehicle seats.
If other passengers are afraid of animals, or have severe allergies, that does not supersede the rights of the user/owner to utilize VITRAN’s transportation services with a service animal. Those other riders may be permitted to pay their fare, and then board via whichever door of the bus allows him/her access away from the service animal or they can wait for the next bus. If separation in the vehicle is not possible to avoid these issues, the operator will contact Dispatch for instructions.
A service animal may be prohibited from VITRAN facilities and from riding on VITRAN fixed route and/or paratransit vehicles if the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the user/owner, other passengers, or VITRAN employees; or demonstrates aggressive behavior towards other passengers or other service animals; or disrupts the VITRAN driver from safely performing his/her duties.
VITRAN will not exclude a particular service animal based solely on experience with other similar type service animals, or on an unreasonable fear that is not related to the service animal’s actual behavior.
Other passengers or members of the public are not permitted to touch, or interfere in any way with a service animal without the consent of the user/owner.
Any person including a person with a disability or a user/owner who does not comply with this policy and its procedures will be asked to disembark the fixed route bus, paratransit vehicle, or will be asked to leave the transit facility. VITRAN operators are required to contact Dispatch for instructions before requiring any individual to alight from the vehicle or vacate a facility.
Customers accompanied by service animals are expected to promptly clean up after their animals whenever necessary and without being requested.
VITRAN personnel are prohibited from taking service animals' leashes or harnesses, assuming responsibility for an animal, or interfering with the duties of service animals in any way.
Read and become familiar with VITRAN’s service animal policies
Be prepared to explain whether or not your animal is a service animal and what task(s) of daily living your animal(s) is/are trained to perform
When scheduling a ride with VITRAN’s Paratransit services, the customer is responsible to let VITRAN know that he/she will be traveling with a service animal so that VITRAN can accommodate the service animal when the vehicle arrives for pick-up.
Know the best way to safely board and ride with your service animal(s)
The user/owner is solely responsible for the supervision, control, care, and safety of his/her service animal while boarding, riding and alighting from VITRAN buses and paratransit vehicles, and while at VITRAN facilities.
The user/owner is responsible to make sure that any disruptive behavior (e.g., growling at other service animals, lunging toward other passengers) from the service animal is stopped immediately.
The user/owner of a service animal that displays unruly disruptive or threatening behavior (e.g., running around the vehicle out of control, aggressiveness towards others and/or other disruptive behavior) may be asked to remove the animal.
In the event that a service animal causes damage to VITRAN property, the user/owner shall be liable for reimbursement to VITRAN for the damages to any VITRAN vehicle or VITRAN facilities. The user/owner will also be financially responsible for any injuries which may be sustained by VITRAN passenger(s) or employee(s) that are caused by the service animal.
Step 1 – Initial Complaint should be filed by the complainer to the Territorial ADA Coordinator, Dept. of Public Works. If the complaint is filed by telephone, the complainer must come to the Department of Public Works to fill out and sign the complaint form within (72) seventy-two hours of making the complaint or put the issue in writing.
Complaints can be mail to:
ADA Office Division of Transportation
6002 Estate Anna’s Hope
Christiansted, St. Croix, V.I. 00820-4422
Step 2 – The Territorial ADA Coordinator will then do a thorough investigation by meeting with the complainer and then meet with the bus operator in question, the bus operator supervisors, and Operations Manager before making an assessment and determination. The ADA Coordinator will then file a report.
Step 3 – Should the problem continue or the complainer doesn’t agree with the outcome or decision made, it will then be taken to the Paratransit Advisory Committee—Appeals and Grievance Committee. This decision is final.
Step 4 – After the final determination, a file will be created for each incident.
Step 1 – Initial complaint should be filed by the complainer to the Territorial ADA Coordinator, Dept. of Public Works. If the complaint is filed by telephone, the complainer must come into the Department of Public Works to fill out and sign the complaint form within (72) seventy-two hours of making the complaint or put the issue in writing.
Step 2 – The Territorial ADA Coordinator will do a thorough investigation by meeting with the complainer, the bus operator in question, the bus operator supervisors, and the Operations Manager before making an assessment and determination. The ADA Coordinator will then file a report.
Step 3 – Should the complainer still not agree with the outcome of the report, the complainer can then take this appeal to the Deputy Commissioner of Transportation to make his/her appeal regarding the complaint/problem. The decision made by the Deputy Commissioner of Transportation is final.