On July 1, the House passed H.R.2, the Moving Forward Act, addressing transit, highways, motor carrier, research, rail, and other programs. The bill includes some priority asks from the disability community, including best practices for quality paratransit, such as one-stop service pilots; improvements to Federal Transit Administration Office of Civil Rights complaint reporting process; assessing and funding accessible infrastructure (e.g., sidewalks, audible pedestrian signals, cross walks, bus stops, and on demand pick-up/drop-off zones); and funding and support for Amtrak ADA compliance. However, the bill does not include some important, additional priorities, including a requirement to increase the availability of fully-accessible, integrated transit and on-demand mobility services and address continued discrimination in transit.
The bill contains important housing provisions to help address the lack of decent, accessible, and affordable housing in the U.S., including $100 billion to construct and preserve 1.8 million affordable homes through $70 billion for public housing capital repairs, $5 billion for the national Housing Trust, and other provisions; and an expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. The bill also expands affordable high-speed internet to underserved rural and urban communities.
On June 3, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing titled “The State of Transportation and Critical Infrastructure: Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Witnesses were John Bozzella, President and Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for Automotive Innovation; Randy Guillot, Chairman of the Board, American Trucking Associations; Ian Jefferies, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of American Railroads; Alex Oehler, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America; and Larry Willis, President, Transportation Trades Department, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Visit the committee website for more information or to access video of the hearing.
On June 3, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released text of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act. This bill reauthorizes the surface transportation programs, currently set to expire September 30. It also increases funding for the Section 5310 program (for the enhanced mobility of seniors and people with disabilities), creates a one-stop paratransit pilot program, and streamlines the disability-discrimination accessibility complaint process for the Federal Transit Administration, among other important provisions.
On October 29, the Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted the Access and Mobility for All Summit. The summit provided an opportunity for the public to learn about DOT and government-wide efforts to improve access to transportation for people with disabilities, and for members of the public to provide input on new developments in transportation. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced several new initiatives, including Complete Trip Deployment solicitation, which provides $40 million to communities to promote independent mobility and $5 million in cash prizes for inclusive design of automated vehicles. Visit the Department of Transportation website to learn more.
On October 29, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will host the Access and Mobility for All Summit. The summit provides an opportunity for the public to learn about DOT and government-wide efforts to improve access to transportation for people with disabilities, and for members of the public to provide input on new developments in transportation. Keynote speakers include Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). Visit the Department of Transportation website to learn more.
On March 6, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative James Langevin (D-RI) reintroduced the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (S.669, H.R.1549). This bill improves accessibility of air travel for people with disabilities by creating a private right of action for violations, requiring new airplanes to meet minimum accessibility standards, and requiring removal of access barriers on existing planes where feasible. The Arc supports this legislation.
On October 3, the Senate approved the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 by a vote of 93-6. This bill includes numerous provisions that benefit people with disabilities, including required training for Transportation Security Administration officers on working with passengers with disabilities, increased civil penalties for bodily harm to a passenger with a disability or damage to wheelchairs or other mobility aids, a new Advisory Committee on Air Travel Needs of Passengers with Disabilities, and a study of potential in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems that will allow passengers to remain in their wheelchairs during flight. The bill now heads to the President’s desk.
On September 22, leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure, and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. The bill includes a section on improving air travel for people with disabilities and requires Transportation Security Administration officer training to include training on working with passengers with disabilities. The current FAA authorization expires on September 30, so Committee leaders hope to achieve final passage this week.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has released an Interim Statement of Enforcement Office Priorities and Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding regulations of service animals under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). DOT will now prioritize enforcement cases involving dogs, cats, and miniature horses over cases involving other animals. Additional priorities include the general prohibition on advance notice; a requirement that identification cards, other written documentation, presence of a harness, tags, or the credible verbal assurance of a passenger be accepted as proof of that an animal is a service animal; and the prohibition on requiring passengers with service animal to check-in at the counter.
DOT is seeking public comment to help ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also helping to ensure that the fraudulent use of other animals not qualified as service animals is deterred and animals that are not trained to behave properly in public are not accepted for transport as service animals. The ANPRM contains ten questions covering topics such as psychiatric service and emotional support animals, the number of animals allowed per passenger, leash and harness requirements, and allowable documentation requirements. Public comment on the ANPRM is due by June 9. Click here to comment.
Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has introduced the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (S.1318) along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Ed Markey (D-MA). This bill will strengthen the Air Carrier Access Act by providing a private right of action and increasing civil penalties for injury of a passenger with a disability or damage of a wheelchair or other mobility device. Additionally, it requires a study of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems that would allow individuals to sit in their wheelchairs during a flight and to put forward guidelines based on those findings. The Arc supports this legislation.