Public Transportation Regulations

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Written By: Jeffrey JohnsonUPDATED: Jul 16, 2021Fact Checked

Buses, ferries, trains, and planes are all regulated by the United States Department of Transportation if they are used to transport people or cargo across state lines. Buses, ferries, trains, and planes that do not cross state lines are regulated by the states in which they are registered and operate. Regardless of what authority governs a common carrier, public transportation is controlled by extensive regulations that provide rules for the carriers and rights for the riders should an accident or injury occur.

Understanding the FAA, Flight Regulations, and More

To better understand how regulation of transportation systems works, it is helpful to look at a specific example. One good example of how this works is the light rail passenger trains that travel through the state of Maryland. They are registered and regulated by the Maryland Transit Authority, or MTA. But a train that travels from Maryland to other areas of the country, such as a Norfolk Southern express train that is traveling to Pennsylvania, is registered and regulated by the federal government because it will cross state lines on its trip (as per the Commerce Clause). The same applies, of course, to airplanes and flight regulations, which are applied by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Because both the federal and state government have authority in different situations, if an accident takes place, there is always a governing body available to investigate the accident, and there is also regulation that will help to determine what laws, if any, have been broken

Accessing Government Regulations

The U.S. Government Printing Office publishes such reference materials as the Code of Federal Regulations, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and the Railroad Highway Grade Crossing Handbook. These and many other related publications may be ordered by any U.S. Government Bookstore or in some cases directly from the appropriate agency, e.g., the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). In addition, the United States Government Printing Office may be reached online.

Public Transportation and Disabled Persons

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) states that no individual with a disability shall be denied the opportunity to use the public transportation system. Additionally, where necessary or upon request, the personnel of both public and private transportation services must assist a disabled person with the use of ramps and lifts enabling the individual to enter or exit the transportation service. The personnel may have to leave their seats in order to provide such assistance.

The ADA provides several different regulations. An example of such regulations are that all common wheelchairs are allowed on public and private transportation services but may be subject to designated securement locations. Another example is that service animals must be permitted on both public and private transportation services. For more information on the requirements of the ADA law or if you are the disabled individual and have had problems with a transportation service, contact an attorney for further information and advice, or visit the ADA homepage.

Getting Help with Flight Regulations and Other Transportation Law Issues 

If you have been involved in an accident with a bus, ferry, train, plane or any other common carrier that provides transportation to the public, you should consult with a lawyer for assistance in understanding what laws will govern your claim.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

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