Passenger Conduct Policy
The Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority (StanRTA) operates a fixed route bus service in the County of Stanislaus. The safety and security of all passengers and bus operators is of the utmost importance to the StanRTA. Every member of the riding public has an obligation to contribute to the safety of others riding the bus by refraining from inappropriate and seriously disruptive behavior.
Any person who exhibits inappropriate or seriously disruptive behavior while at a transit facility, boarding a bus, disembarking from a bus, or riding on a StanRTA bus may lose ridership privileges.
Inappropriate behavior is defined as, “conduct that does not demonstrate respect for the rights and dignity of others, interferes with the orderly operation of transit services, damages public property, is disruptive, or violates the rules of riding the bus.” Such behavior can jeopardize the passenger’s ability to make use of the transit system.
When a passenger’s behavior warrants immediate ejection, an operations supervisor, or a bus operator with supervisor approval, may require the immediate removal of the passenger from the bus for continued inappropriate behavior.
Any time a passenger is denied service or is removed from the bus, the passenger may be prohibited from riding for the remainder of that day.
Seriously Disruptive Behavior
Seriously disruptive behavior is defined as conduct that is violent, illegal, or endangers the health or safety of others. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to:
- physical or verbal abuse;
- unlawful harassment including unwelcome verbal, nonverbal or physical behavior having sexual or racial connotations;
- public intoxication;
- voluntarily and repeatedly engaging in inappropriate behavior;
- bringing hazardous materials on the vehicle;
- bodily fluids or feces released from the passenger, clothing, or mobility device;
- extreme poor personal hygiene;
- passengers with a known airborne communicable disease such as tuberculosis;
- a service animal not under the control of its handler.
A passenger who engages in seriously disruptive behavior may be removed from the bus immediately, have service denied without prior warning and can be subject to additional disciplinary action.
When a passenger engages in inappropriate behavior not warranting immediate ejection from the bus, the bus operator or other transit operations personnel will issue a verbal warning from the bus operator or other transit operations personnel. The warning will state the reason his or her behavior is inappropriate and the steps the passenger must take to correct the behavior. The bus operator or other transit agent will also document this verbal warning, indicating the date and time the warning was given.
Depending upon the severity of the person’s behavior, a written warning may be issued by the StanRTA. The warning will site the date of the incident, the route and bus number or property location, and a summary of the event including notification of any video documentation. A request may be made to review the video at the StanRTA offices.
Repetitive inappropriate behavior or any seriously disruptive behavior may result in formal suspension of the passenger from StanRTA transit buses, bus stops or transit facilities. An order prohibiting a passenger from accessing the transit system can by issued by the transit system when:
- within a period of 90 consecutive days, the person is given three (3) written warnings for a violation of the Passenger Conduct Code on a vehicle, at bus stop, transit station or center;
- the passenger is arrested or convicted for a misdemeanor or felony committed on vehicle, bus stop, transit station or center.
The length of the suspension will be determined by the severity of the immediate incident, the documented history of previous incidents, and any previous suspensions. Additional occurrences of inappropriate or seriously disruptive behavior after a suspension action may result in further suspension from the StanRTA’s transit system until such time as the passenger can demonstrate the ability to comply with StanRTA policies and rules.
The StanRTA reserves the right to initiate a suspension without prior warning should it be necessary for the health and safety of the operator and/or passengers.
Notice of Suspension
Written notice of suspension will be served to the suspended passenger. The notice shall include a description of the conduct underlying the violation(s) giving rise to the prohibition order and a copy of the Passenger Conduct Policy. The suspension notice will specify the reason for the suspension, the duration of the suspension, and the process for appealing the suspension. The notice will also provide the opportunity to respond in person, by telephone, or in writing.
Service may be accomplished in-person, or by any form of mail to at least one known address, or any alternate method approved in writing by the StanRTA, and the passenger being served. If the individual has no known mailing address or refused to provide a mailing address, all notices, letters, and appeal decisions will be made available for pickup during regular business hours at the at the Modesto Transit Center’s customer service window.
The prohibition of passengers will follow a progressive process beginning with verbal and/or written warnings.
When three warnings accumulate within a 90-day period, the passenger can be subject to suspension for up to 30 days. If the passenger engages in inappropriate or seriously disruptive behavior within one year of the suspension, the second suspension may be up to 90 days in length. A third or subsequent suspension within one year may be up to 180 days duration.
Rights to Appeal
A passenger has five (5) business days to request an initial review of the suspension order. If the suspension notice is not contested within the five (5) business days after delivery of the notice, the prohibition order will be deemed final. Passengers may file their request by phone, in electronic or written form, or in person. The StanRTA’s appointed administrative review officer will have five (5) business days from the receipt of the contest to complete the review and issue a determination using the delivery methods described previously. Passenger requests for suspension review should be directed to:
Administrative Review Officer
Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority
912 11th Street, Suite 100
Modesto, CA 95354
The administrative review determines whether the suspension order meets the standards for inappropriate or seriously disruptive behavior as defined by the StanRTA and described herein. If, following the initial review, the StanRTA determines the that the suspension should be upheld in whole or in part, the StanRTA shall issue a written statement to that effect, including any modifications. The passenger contesting the notice shall be notified in writing. Telephonic or electronic notification may also be made upon the agreement and/or request of the contester.
During the initial review, the suspension is automatically stayed. The period of the stay is from the time the passenger files the protest to the day after the delivery of the administrative officer’s decision. If the StanRTA upholds or modifies the suspension, the prohibition from all transit assets will resume and continue until the specified termination date.
The administrative review considers whether:
- the suspense action adheres to the requirements sets forth in the policy;
- the offense or offenses fall within the definitions of inappropriate or seriously disruptive behavior;
- the offense or offenses cited in the suspension are proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
The administrative review does not accept new testimony from either the passenger or the transit operations team, nor does it conduct additional investigation or reconsideration of the evidence previously collected.
If the passenger is dissatisfied with the results of the initial review, the passenger may request an administrative hearing of the prohibition order no later than five (5) business days after receipt of the initial administrative review. Passengers may file their request by phone, in writing, or in person. The StanRTA appeals officer or his/her/their designee, will have ten (10) business days from the receipt of the contest to complete the review and issue a determination using the delivery methods described previously.
A passenger may request to appeal a suspension only after receiving the decision of an administrative review. Passenger appeals can be submitted in electronic or written format, by telephone or in person, directed to:
Attn: Appeals Review Officer
Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority
912 11th Street, Suite 100
Modesto, CA 95354
The appeals hearing request should state which type of hearing is requested (in person or by mail), whether they appellant wishes to attend and present evidence,
Once a request for appeal hearing is received by the StanRTA, the passenger’s suspension is again automatically stayed. The period of the stay is from the time the passenger files the protest to the day after the delivery of the appeal officer’s decision. If the StanRTA rescinds the suspension the contester may resume ridership immediately upon notification. If the StanRTA upholds or modifies the suspension, the prohibition from all transit assets will resume and continue until the specified termination date.
The appeal hearing shall be conducted by the appeals officer by mail or in person. The contester is not required to participate in the hearing but may participate by submitting written or oral rebuttal to the evidence in the prohibition order. Contesters wishing to participate in person at the hearing must submit their request to do so as part of the appeal request. If the passenger requesting the hearing cannot attend, he or she may have another person represent them at the hearing. If the individual or a designated representative is not present at the hearing, the appeals officer’s decision will be based on the documentation available at the time.
Appeal proceedings will take place during normal business hours at the StanRTA offices, 912 11th Street, Suite 100, Modesto, CA 95354 or an accessible public facility designated by the governing board. The appeals officer will review the documentation supporting the suspension action. Documentation submitted by the contester in rebuttal to the charges, if any, will then be examined. Once all documentation has been presented, the appeals officer will have five (5) business days after the appeal hearing to issue a written decision delivered to the contester in an agreed upon manner as described previously within this policy.
The appeal officer determines whether the suspension order meets the standards for inappropriate or seriously disruptive behavior as defined by the StanRTA and described herein. If the appeal officer determines the that the suspension should be upheld in whole or in part, the StanRTA shall issue a written statement to that effect, including any modifications. The prohibition from all transit assets recommences at the time the contester receives the formal notification and continue until the specified termination date.
The appeal officer may choose to rescind, uphold, or modify the suspension of service. The appeal officer’s decision is final.
The hearing officer, in issuing a final decision, will consider foremost the health and safety of others. The determination of whether an individual poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others will be made on an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on the best available objective evidence to ascertain the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk. If the investigation reveals that the passenger’s disruptive behavior is caused by a disability and beyond the passenger’s control, the appeal officer will evaluate whether accommodations can be made to allow the passenger continued access to transit services.
Transit access may be conditionally reestablished if an attendant accompanies the passenger to help control his or her behavior. If the required attendant is unable to prevent further instances of seriously disruptive behavior, the passenger may be suspended from transit service indefinitely.
Resuming Transit Service
When the suspension period is completed, the StanRTA staff or their designates will notify the passenger that he or she is eligible for bus service. Notification will be made according to the procedures set forth under “Notice of Suspension.”
If there is another documented incident of inappropriate or seriously disruptive behavior, the passenger may be suspended for a longer time period or indefinitely.