Velazquez Calls for Accessible Transit Infrastructure
Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), has introduced a bill to improve accessibility in public transportation. The bill, titled the Accessible Transit for All Act of 2020 (ATFA), creates a new grant program under the Department of Transportation. This grant program would, in turn, enable Public Transportation Agencies (PTAs) to improve their accessibility to individuals with limited mobility or related impairments. Under the program, eligible PTA projects include escalators, accessible ramps, and elevators in lieu of stairs. Grant funding may also be used to cover the cost of maintenance for the structures, provide technical assistance, and extend bus services to areas where accessible stations are more than a mile away. In total, the grant provides up to $5 billion in funds over five years, which is eligible for renewal.
As it stands, the approximately 25.5 million Americans with a travel-limiting disability do not have the same level of access to public transit as able-bodied individuals. In reaffirming accessible transit as a priority for 21st century transportation, the bill will promote existing programs as well as the construction of new accessibility features. Public transportation agencies will be incentivized substantially through grants to implement and maintain infrastructure that serves individuals with mobility impairments.
“Public transportation exists to provide affordable, sustainable transportation to all,” said Velázquez. “We have a collective responsibility to ensure that we work to improve accessibility in public transportation. Our city’s buses and trains are a great equalizer, and we must make them accessible to everyone. I introduced the Accessible Transit for All Act because New Yorkers should be able to ride trains or buses without worrying about having to use an inaccessible subway station on their trip.”
“Representative Velazquez’s proposal would bring essential funding for critical accessibility projects at the time we need it most. Our transit systems are in crisis, made worse by the financial uncertainties caused by the pandemic. The MTA is directing as many resources as possible to keep essential trains and buses running, requiring that it put its $51.5 billion capital program on pause -- including significant accessibility projects. That doesn’t just affect riders, it hurts the economy. Riders can’t wait until we come out on the other side of the pandemic for station improvements, elevators and escalators. Having an additional source of funding for these vital projects is the kind of support that riders need now, and we thank her for her efforts," said Andrew Albert, Chair of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA and MTA board member.
A PDF of the bill is available online here.