Disability-Friendly Transportation Hard To Come By
While progress in improving transportation for people with disabilities has been evident in the past decade, persistent barriers remain, the National Council on Disability reports.
“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 chairman Jeff Rosen in a statement.
The report will be formally released on Monday as the national council, which advises the president, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy, meets in Pittsburgh, part of a series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
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While the report praises the gains in public transit, it singled out the nascent alternative taxi industry for failing to do enough to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
“Taxi alternatives like Uber, SideCar, Lyft and others could open up exciting business opportunities and provide much-needed travel options for passengers with disabilities,” said Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, authors of the report.
However, court cases and news reports “show potential customers being routinely discriminated against because of service dogs and wheelchairs,” she said.
A synopsis of the report says: “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.”
The report also took Amtrak to task, saying the passenger railroad “has lagged behind in meeting ADA requirements for its stations, platforms, train cars, reservations practices and communications access.”
Spokespersons for Uber, Lyft and the railroad could not immediately be reached for comment.
Other findings as detailed in the synopsis are that ridership on traditional fixed-route buses and rails by people with disabilities has grown far faster than use of specialized paratransit services. It said “great gains” have been made in best practices for paratransit in on-time performance, telephone wait times, no-show policies and eligibility standards “but they are often not implemented.”
The council report said minimal transit service in rural and remote areas “still creates serious barriers to employment, accessible health care and full participation in society.”
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