- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York City Transit Authority was accused in a lawsuit Wednesday of discriminating against people with limited English who try to use a program providing transportation to those with disabilities.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, a civil rights advocacy group. It seeks class-action status to end what it says is a discriminatory policy and practice involving the city’s Access-A-Ride program. Access-A-Ride provides vans for tens of thousands of people as a substitute for subways and buses.

Five named plaintiffs maintain they’ve encountered barriers, delays, denials and discrimination when they apply to the program and suffered emotional harm when they were denied equal access to public transportation. The lawsuit said the policy violates federal and local laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York City Human Rights Law.

The lawsuit seeks a comprehensive system to provide language services to individuals seeking to use Access-A-Ride.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman Judie Glave said the agency does not comment on litigation.

In a news release, attorney Aditi Shah said New York City Transit’s policy was “not only unfair, it’s illegal.”

Shah added: “Federal law requires that New Yorkers with disabilities have equal access to public transportation. Yet New York City Transit explicitly excludes people who need Access-A-Ride services, merely because they do not speak English well.”

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