May 21, 2012

Report: Disabled still experience transportation disparities

As conferees begin debating how to move forward with the federal transportation reauthorization, two civil rights organizations are highlighting massive disparities in transportation access for people with disabilities.

“Equity in Transportation for People with Disabilities,” a report by The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, documents the lack of funding, enforcement and oversight of transportation programs that allow people with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in community life.

The collected findings demonstrate that federal and local policymakers have failed to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide equal access to affordable transportation for all communities through federal surface transportation legislation. Among the findings:

•    Many public transit systems — particularly older rail and bus systems, as well as Amtrak —are still inaccessible to people with disabilities.

•    Paratransit services required by the ADA are plagued by poor oversight, high costs to transit agencies and woefully inadequate service.

•    Taxi services continue to be out of reach for people who use wheelchairs, both due to discrimination by drivers and because of physically-inaccessible cabs.

•    Enforcement of ADA compliance remains spotty.

•    Significant access problems remain for people living in rural communities.

The report includes recommendations for ensuring that the next surface transportation reauthorization bill can begin to meet the needs of all individuals living in the U.S.

“This report underscores how much the civil rights community has at stake in the transportation debate,” said Wade Henderson, president/CEO of the Leadership Conference Education Fund. “Because of inadequate funding and enforcement, countless people with disabilities can’t reliably vote, work, attend medical appointments, or enjoy full independence.”

Mark Perriello, president of AAPD, commented that “access to transportation is a prerequisite to full civil rights for people with disabilities. The goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act — economic power, independent living, political participation and equal opportunity — can only be realized with affordable, accessible transportation systems.”

Click here to download the report.

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