National Council on Disability Releases Transportation Access and Policy Report at Quarterly Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA

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On Monday, May 4, the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy, will release a comprehensive assessment surface transportation for people with disabilities as a part of NCD’s quarterly meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. The report picks up ten years after NCD’s 2005 publication of “The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities in the United States”, which led, in part, to major improvements in accessible transportation.

The report being released Monday, May 4 titled, “Transportation Update: Where We’ve Gone and What We’ve Learned” outlines both the progress made in the last decade and details the persistent barriers that remain.

“Much has happened in the last decade. More people with disabilities are riding public transit than ever before and yet, in many areas, significant barriers to ground transportation for Americans with disabilities remain pervasive,” said NCD Chair, Jeff Rosen.  “For Americans with Disabilities many transportation services remain stuck in neutral.  For many Americans with Disabilities the prospects and possibilities for going to and from work, school and recreational activities are stuck in neutral. NCD’s report addresses the broad range of surface transportation, including these, and makes recommendations policymakers should use to address these barriers promptly.”

“Taxi alternatives like Uber, SideCar, Lyft, and others, could open up exciting business opportunities and provide much-needed travel options for passengers with disabilities,” added Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) the research contractor for the report, “but recent court cases and news reports show potential customers being routinely discriminated against because of service dogs and wheelchairs. As our nation gears up to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act later this year, let us resolve to move equal transportation access forward.”

Among the findings:

  • Taxi Alternatives: Emerging transportation models like Uber, SideCar, and Lyft have vigorously resisted regulations typically imposed on the taxicab sector, harming the taxi industry and evading requirements that serve the public interest, including deficits in service to people with disabilities. Uber openly claims it is not covered by the ADA.
  • Fixed Route Buses: Ridership of fixed route bus transit and rail systems by people with disabilities has grown far faster than ridership on ADA paratransit.
  • Paratransit: There have been great gains in best practices in the areas of eligibility, telephone hold time, on-time performance, no-show policies, and origin-to-destination service, but they are often not implemented.
  • Rural Transportation: Minimal or non-existent transit service in rural and remote areas still creates serious barriers to employment, accessible health care, and full participation in society.
  • Rail Transit: Amtrak has lagged behind in meeting ADA requirements for its stations, platforms, train cars, reservations practices, and communications access.
  • Best practices: Oregon, Iowa, and Maine provide examples of positive coordination of transportation programs for people with disabilities.  Many cities still lack adequate wheelchair accessible taxi programs, despite progress in some locations, including Chicago, New York City, and Rhode Island.

Report Release Details

Date: Monday, May 4
Time: 9:30-10:30 am EST
Location: William Pitt Union (Assembly Room), University of Pittsburgh, 3959 Fifth Avenue
Details: A report summary will be given followed by a discussion panel on the material covered within. The panel will be introduced by NCD Chair, Jeff Rosen and moderated by Susan Henderson, Executive Director of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the research contractor for the report. To RSVP contact, Tina Calabro

Panelists include:

  • Robert DeLucia, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Star Transportation Group
  • Toby Fauver, Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation, PA Department of Transportation
  • Jeff Iseman, Program Analyst, PA State Independent Living Council

The full report will be available for free download Monday, May 4th at NCD's website:/publications/2015/05042015/

About the National Council on Disability (NCD): First established as an advisory council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD became an independent federal agency in 1984. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. Since enactment of the ADA in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting disability policy, and advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policies, programs, and practices.