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MATBUS Policies

MATBUS prides itself on providing safe, courteous and cost effective transportation in the Fargo-Moorhead area. For your convenience, we have listed several common polices below. This is not considered an exhaustive list of all our polices. MATBUS reserves the right to change, add or remove any of the polices listed below at any time.



Advertising

Passenger must not place or distribute any advertising materials in vehicles except advertising authorized by the transit director/manager. Anyone requesting to place advertising materials on the bus must be referred to the transit director/manager. Employees are responsible for authorized advertisements and signs to ensure that they are not disturbed, soiled or mutilated. Employees are responsible for filling and maintaining the supply of transit brochures/schedules in display holders inside vehicles and facilities.


Animals

Dogs, cats, birds, or other animals shall not be permitted aboard a vehicle except under the following conditions:

  • Service animals are permitted to accompany persons with disabilities, but must be properly harnessed or leashed so as to restrain the animal. The service animal may be held on the owner’s lap or placed on the floor of the vehicle. The animal cannot be placed on the seat.
  • Patrol dogs are permitted when accompanied by a uniformed police patrol person.
  • Animals are permitted when properly caged, or in a container, and when not a nuisance or hazard to other passengers. The cage/container must be held on the owner’s lap and not take up another passenger’s seat. The cage/container cannot be placed on the floor or block the aisles.
    • The animal must be alive.

Service Animals: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA, regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals under ADA.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for himself or herself. Some examples include:

  • Seeing eye dogs
  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments with their balance
  • Seizure response/alert animals that alert individuals with seizure disorders to oncoming seizures and/or help the individual during and following the seizure

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: 1) Is that a service animal? 2) What tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

Staff cannot ask about the person's disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

Once it has been established that the animal is a service animal to a person with disabilities, the bus driver may not continue questioning the passenger each time they board with their animal.

The Department of Justice states:
MATBUS may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from its facilities when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other passengers or the driver may be excluded.


Designated Bus Stops

This policy became effective on October 1, 2018.

Passengers can board or deboard the fixed route bus only at designated locations posted with a MATBUS stop sign. It is the goal of MATBUS through this policy to:

  1. Improve reliability and on-time performance
  2. Heighten visibility of transit routes
  3. Improve visibility and clarification of bus stop locations
  4. Reduce incidents of missed passengers
  5. Improve customer satisfaction by identifying all bus stop locations

Bus drivers will continue to stop at unauthorized boarding locations when a passenger is flagging them down, but will then politely explain the correct boarding location for future rides.

During the initial implementation period of six months, the bus driver will provide a handout to passengers boarding at invalid bus stops, with additional information on the policy.

Temporary Route Changes and Detours

During detour operations, the temporary route segment will - unless otherwise noted - operate under the "flag stop" policy, meaning passengers can board or deboard the bus at any corner or intersection along the route where the driver deems it is safe to do so.

For long-term detours, temporary MATBUS stop signs may be installed and designated as bus stops. Also, “Not in Service” stickers may be placed over existing MATBUS stops signs or the signs will be covered or removed.

Bus Stop Identification

MATBUS Stop Signs have been installed at locations along each route. Sign locations are marked on printed bus schedules and online route maps/schedules.

Stop locations are indicated on the live bus tracker available online and utilized in Google Transit for trip planning.

Designated Bus Stop Criteria

  1. Bus stops will be placed at least two blocks apart unless there is demonstrated high demand requiring additional stops.
  2. Traffic flow and existing traffic signal and sign placement will be considered in placement of the stop.
  3. The bus stop location must be safe for passengers to board and deboard and not create a hazard for other traffic.
  4. The bus stop cannot be in a right-hand turning lane, unless the bus route turns right at that location.
  5. It is preferred that the bus stop be located at or near concrete at an accessible corner or driveway.
  6. If the bus stop is on the far side of the intersection, it is preferred that the stop allow the bus to completely clear the intersection and allow passengers to board and deboard on concrete.
  7. Mid-block stops will be considered on long blocks (a double block or more) and loops. The stop should be the point where a corner would normally exist and includes "T" intersections.
  8. If the stop request is based on a passenger’s disability, MATBUS staff will review the request to determine the best option, including the possibility of alternative transportation.
  9. MATBUS staff will review bus stop boarding data yearly and will make determinations based on ridership to add or remove bus stops.

Designated Bus Stop Request Procedure

If passengers have a concern about a bus stop (or lack of a bus stop) in any particular location, they can fill out the Request a Bus Stop Form.

  1. A form is available online under the Contact Us page, titled Request a Bus Stop.
  2. This is a fillable form for individuals to enter the location of the requested stop, along with any pertinent information accompanying the request.
  3. The requests may be sent to the transit@matbus.com email address, which is monitored by MATBUS administrative staff.
  4. If a passenger does not have access to the online form, they may contact MATBUS staff either in person or via the main phone line at 701.232.7500. The contacted staff member will enter the request for the individual.
  5. MATBUS administrative staff will review and respond to all requests within 10 business days of receipt. The requesting individual will be subsequently notified of the decision and any actions taken.

Reasonable Accommodation

Under Federal Transit Administration rules, MATBUS is required to provide reasonable accommodation to our policies, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure that our programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities. MATBUS drivers, dispatchers or supervisor staff may make reasonable accommodations. These requests are limited to short -term requests, which do not place the passenger(s) or MATBUS employees in an unsafe situation. An example would be dropping a passenger off at the nearest paved sidewalk or driveway prior to or after the signed bus stop. Additional requests for accommodations should be made through the contact us page or by calling our administration offices at 701.232.7500 option 2.


Firearms

Possession of a firearm or any dangerous or destructive weapon, including but not limited to guns, swords, knives, bow and arrows, biological agents or toxins, is prohibited while in or near transit vehicles or facilities, unless otherwise allowed under law.


Joy Riding

Joy riding, which is defined as riding the bus for one full trip without deboarding is not allowed. MATBUS staff will question passengers who do not deboard within one trip and assist them, if needed, in determining the route needed to reach their final destination.


Loitering

Employees will monitor facilities and vehicles for persons loitering. Passengers are not allowed to stay longer than their route’s departure time without legitimate reason. Passengers remaining at the facility after buses have departed will be asked to catch the next bus or leave the facility. Passengers waiting for Jefferson Lines buses must have a ticket. If the passenger refuses to leave, police or security firm will be called and they will be removed from the facility and may be trespassed.


Lost and Found

Articles found onboard buses or in MATBUS facilities will be turned in to the GTC dispatcher. Lost items may be kept for up to seven (7) days, and if not claimed, will be donated to charity or thrown away.


Passenger Rules

Passengers are required to follow basic rules while traveling on the MATBUS system. Passengers who do not follow these rules may be asked to leave the vehicle or transit facility. MATBUS will prosecute anyone who violates the law.

  • Be courteous to the driver and your fellow passengers.
  • Hold on to hand rails while the bus is moving.
  • Hold on to strollers and carts. They may not block or narrow the aisle.
  • Sit properly in the bus seat. Keep feet off the seat or back of seat.
  • No drinking alcohol on the bus or on MATBUS property.
  • No eating permitted on the bus. Non-alcoholic beverages are permitted when they are in spill-proof containers.
  • No weapons or dangerous substances are permitted in buses or on MATBUS property.
  • No smoking allowed on or near the bus, in bus shelters, or on MATBUS property.
  • No yelling or profanity allowed.
  • No littering.
  • No loitering (explained further in Loitering policy).
  • No joy riding (explained further in Joy Riding policy).
  • No panhandling (asking for money or goods).
  • Listening to music is permitted with ear buds or headphones only.

Public Announcements (PA)

Use of the public address system along fixed routes is required under federal law, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The purpose of the public address system is to:

  1. Improve communication between the bus driver and passengers.
  2. Improve usability of public transportation for individuals who are sight-impaired or cannot recognize their destination.
  3. Assist riders in identifying landmarks when sight is impaired by darkness or weather conditions.

Pre-determined bus stops are automatically announced through a public address system. If the system is not working, the route is on detour, or additional stops are requested by a passenger, the driver will make announcements manually.


Refusing / Denying a Ride

Employees shall NOT refuse a ride:

  • On the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, sex or status with regard to public assistance because the individual's disability results in appearance or involuntary behavior that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience employees of the City, contractor or other person.

A passenger or group of passengers who imperil the health or safety of the driver or other passengers by engaging in violent, seriously disruptive, or illegal conduct may be refused service by MATBUS after a warning has been issued. Disruptive behavior includes, but is not limited to, behaving in an offensive or destructive manner, including panhandling, and not following passenger rules.

Bus drivers will ask passengers who wish to file a complaint about another passengers’ behavior to contact the dispatcher or transit office to complete a complaint form so that the issue can be recorded and investigated.

The Transit Administration may choose to suspend or trespass a passenger from the transit system for a specified period of time if that passenger engages in illegal, violent, threatening or other egregious manner.

The Transit Administration may require a personal care attendant when transporting a passenger that has a documented medical or documented behavioral condition that could pose an unsafe situation for either the driver or any of the passengers.


Priority / Reserved Seating

Specific areas in the front of the bus are designated for wheelchairs and have securement systems. If these areas are full but not occupied with a wheelchair, and a passenger boards with a wheelchair, the driver will ask passengers to voluntarily move from the designated securement area to accommodate the passenger with the wheelchair. If the passengers do not voluntarily move, the driver cannot require or force passengers to move or de-board. Since securements are not available, the passenger with the wheelchair will have to wait for the next bus.

If the wheelchair areas are occupied with wheelchair users and another passenger with a wheelchair attempts to board, the bus is considered to be full and that passenger will need to wait for the next bus.

Specific areas in the bus have signage designating priority/reserved seating for elderly and/or disabled passengers. If an elderly and/or disabled passenger boards the bus and the priority/reserved seating is occupied, the elderly and/or disabled passenger may ask the driver for a seat in the priority/reserved seating area. The driver will ask passengers to voluntarily move from the priority/reserved seating area to accommodate the elderly and/or disabled passenger. Passengers who voluntarily move from priority/reserved seating may choose to take an open seat or stand. Drivers cannot require or force passengers to move or de-board. The elderly and/or disabled passenger boarding the bus may choose to sit in a non-priority/non-reserved area or wait for another bus.


Service and Fare Changes

In order to provide appropriate levels of service, MATBUS may propose changes to routes and fare structure. If the proposed changes are evaluated and found to affect a significant portion of a route or routes, MATBUS will follow a procedure to receive public comment and City Council/Commission approval. MATBUS will solicit public comment and City approval for all fare changes.

The specific policies for each city (Fargo and Moorhead) are listed below, including definitions of temporary, minor and major service changes.

Fargo Public Comment Process on Fare/Service Changes - covers Fargo and West Fargo changes
Moorhead Fare and Service Change Policy - covers Moorhead and Dilworth changes


Smoking

Smoking in a MATBUS vehicle, facility or property is prohibited, including smoking within 20’ feet of a public entrance, operable window or vent.


Soliciting

Soliciting, collecting money from, or circulating petitions among employees, passengers, or the general public is not permitted unless specifically authorized in writing by the Transit Administration. Passengers should not give tips or gifts of any kind to MATBUS employees.


Strollers & Carts

Federal regulations require that baggage be stowed so as not to obstruct access to exits. Therefore no objects can be blocking the aisle or protrude/narrow the aisle. Drivers are to enforce the following policies regarding strollers and carts on-board the bus:

Strollers:

  • Passengers must hold on to the stroller at all times.
  • Strollers must be STORED in a manner so they do not block or narrow the aisle for exiting. This may include folding the stroller down and placing it between seats or using the unoccupied wheelchair securement area.
  • Parents may hold their child on their lap or seat, and place the stroller out of the aisle.
  • Parents may place their child and stroller in an area designated for wheelchairs if this space is open; however, the stroller cannot be secured by wheelchair restraints.
  • Passengers with strollers using the securement area will be asked by the driver to voluntarily move if the space is needed for a mobility device, disabled or elderly persons. If the passengers do not voluntarily move, the driver cannot require or force passengers to move or deboard.
  • If parents wish to leave their child in the stroller, we recommend that they keep seat belts on and wheel locks down.
  • If a stroller is being solely used as a cart, without the presence of a child, it will be treated as a cart and subject to the cart policy.

Carts:

  • All carts must be foldable.
  • All carts must be stored in a manner so they do not block or narrow the aisle. Carts can be folded and placed in the seating area adjacent to the rider, or they may be left unfolded if they are completely out of the aisle and being held by the passenger.
  • If the bus is full, and the seating is needed to accommodate passengers, the cart must be folded up and stored in the seating area with the owner.
  • Groceries must be bagged or boxed, and kept either on or beside the seated passenger, or else within a cart that is not blocking or narrowing the aisle. Under no circumstances will groceries or any other items be stored in the wheel well areas or set in the aisles.
  • Groceries or other items are limited to what can be carried on by the passenger in one trip.
  • Carts may be stored in the area designated for wheelchairs if the owner is seated in an adjacent seat grasping the cart. If the wheelchair area is needed to accommodate wheelchair riders, the cart shall be stored in accordance with the above procedures.

When boarding, if the stroller or cart cannot be accommodated under these guidelines due to size of stroller/cart, blocking or narrowing of the aisles or multiple strollers/carts on board filling the space, the driver must deny the boarder a ride.


Wheelchair / Ramp Operations

  1. All bus operators will be trained in the safe and proper use and maintenance of access related equipment.
  2. All bus operators will be trained to understand the different abilities of persons with disabilities and the various types of mobility aids that passengers will be using. Training will include:
    • Passenger Assistance Training
    • Sensitivity Training
  3. Bus operators will check operation of ramps/lifts, securement systems, and other access-related features as part of their daily equipment inspection. Bus operators are required to report accessible equipment failures to maintenance personnel as soon as possible.
  4. According to the ADA, transit providers must carry a wheelchair and occupant if the lift and vehicle can physically accommodate them, unless doing so is inconsistent with legitimate safety requirements. "Legitimate safety requirements" includes such circumstances as a wheelchair of such size that it would block an aisle, or would be too large to enter the vehicle, or would interfere with the safe evacuation of passengers in an emergency. MATBUS ramps and lifts are not to be used for mobility devices more than 600 pounds when occupied or the manufacturer's weight limit.
  5. The driver may assist the passenger in fare payment if requested to do so, or the driver may suggest easier or more efficient fare payment methods or special user card display techniques. However, such assistance will not include the removal of cash/tokens from a purse. Passengers may ask bus operators to remove the fare from a special container that is readily available and easily identifiable as containing their fare (such as zip lock bag).
  6. The driver will provide assistance upon request or when needed to individuals with disabilities in boarding and disembarking. If the bus stop location has a curb, the ramp will be placed on the curb to lessen the angle of the ramp. If deemed necessary, the driver may refer passengers with disabilities to the MATBUS Mobility Manager, who will arrange training opportunities to increase the passenger’s proficiency in boarding and disembarking.
  7. All wheeled mobility aids (wheelchairs, scooters, etc.) must be correctly secured during transport with all four tie-down, three tie-down or electronic arm securement, depending on the securement type, provided on the bus. Once the mobility device is properly secured, the driver will inform dispatch on the radio “10-99, all point secured” before the vehicle is set in motion. If the passenger refuses to let you secure the mobility aids mentioned in this paragraph, you must deny the ride. If the passenger transfers themselves onto a regular seat, the mobility aid must still be secured correctly. Passengers must be asked if they would like the lap and shoulder belt secured after the securement of their chair. The lap and shoulder belt is an additional safety tool for passengers to be secured while riding in their chair. Bus operators must verbally ask each passenger if they wish to utilize this feature and receive a response from the passenger indicating they do or do not want to use the additional securement.

    According to ADA, if the transit operator has a policy that requires securement, or if a rider asks that the wheelchair be secured, Section 37.165(f) of the DOT’s ADA regulations requires transit personnel to use their best efforts to secure the mobility device. Section 37.165(d) states that transit operators cannot refuse to accommodate a common wheelchair – including a scooter or other specialized mobility device that complies with the ADA regulation’s specifications -- because the wheelchair cannot be secured to the driver’s satisfaction. Given the diversity of ""common"" wheelchairs, transit operators should consult with the manufacturers of securement devices and wheelchairs, as well as the owner of the wheelchair, to determine the best means of securement.
  8. Before lowering the ramp/lift, the driver will move any passengers seated in the wheelchair securement area and fold up the seats. The driver will then deploy the ramp/lift and ask the passenger if they would like assistance in boarding the bus. The driver will engage the securement devices, namely the wheelchair tie-downs and the seat belts. The driver will also ensure that the passenger has engaged the personal wheelchair seat belt. NOTE: Use of seat belts is the option of the passenger on fixed route only.
  9. The driver will stow all securement devices immediately following usage.
  10. The ramps/lifts will be deployed on request of any passenger, whether or not they appear to have a disability.
  11. The driver will announce any stop on request of an individual with a disability.
  12. Service animals are permitted to accompany persons with disabilities.
  13. The driver will allow an individual with a disability to travel with a respirator or portable oxygen supply consistent with the Department of Transportation rules governing transportation of hazardous materials.
  14. If wheelchair slots are full, the driver will inform the passenger that he/she may attempt to board the next run.
  15. If an accessible vehicle is not available due to regular maintenance or repairs, the driver will contact the GTC to arrange alternative transportation.
  16. If the driver judges the deboarding point to be unsafe for equipment or passengers (due to accumulated snow, ice, etc.), an alternate site on the route may be selected. For example, a nearby driveway cleared of snow could accommodate a wheelchair.
  17. The driver will coordinate transfers by radio contact with the GTC.
  18. Bus operators shall follow the Policy for Using the Public Address System, including announcing key points, communicating with passengers, and announcing requested stops.
  19. Allow all other passengers to get on or off the vehicle before deploying the ramp/lift.
  20. Inquire if the person has used the ramp/lift before. If not, explain briefly what to do to get on and off.
  21. Caution all other passengers to remain clear of the ramp/lift while it is in operation.
  22. If necessary, assist the person to his or her seat. Inquire as to their destination.
  23. If the person boarding is standing and appears unsteady, the driver may suggest a companion accompany him or her on the ramp.
  24. Bus operators are to use manual override when mechanical ramp/lift mechanism fails. Malfunctions are to be reported to the dispatcher to await instructions regarding changing vehicles. Convey these instructions to passengers and give transfer information if possible.
  25. Bus operators are not expected to repair ramps/lifts or remove stranded passengers from vehicles except in extreme emergency situations. Tie down cutters are available on board the bus for use in emergencies.
  26. Bus operators are not expected to leave the vehicle area to pick up or drop off a passenger (door-to-door service).
  27. Bus operators do not have to transport a standing person with disabilities who refuses to hold the handrails or who stands on the ramp/lift in an unsafe manner.
  28. Bus operators are to assist the person off the ramp/lift and into the bus corridor if necessary. Bus operators are responsible for folding up the seats when the area is needed for securing of wheelchairs.
  29. The driver shall notify their supervisor if time schedules need to be adjusted because of consistent patterns of travel by persons with disabilities resulting in late trips or missed transfers.