NCIL published a new position paper on transportation that starts out with the observation that 80 percent of federal transportation funding goes to highways, which discriminates against people with disabilities, along with the unfulfilled promise of the ADA for transit service accessible to all and the lack in rural areas of transportation options and accessible streets for people with disabilities.
NCIL declares 11 goals that it is seeking via the next transportation authorization bill. The following list is edited, but quotes from the position paper.
1. Address the continued discrimination against individuals with disabilities by ensuring through legislation that all public transportation is accessible to and for individuals with disabilities. According to the Rural Transportation Institute, a recent study indicates that only 7 states require public transportation to be wheel-chair accessible under Section 5310. ...
2. Provide major new investments in public transportation and complete street designs ... . The lack of transportation and pedestrian safety and right of way options in many communities is a major barrier to employment of individuals with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities heavily rely on public transportation and the expansions of transportation and complete street options will significantly improve the mobility of individuals with disabilities. ...
3. Include the creation of innovative, creative, universally designed, and accessible and energy efficient vehicles in any future Economic Stimulus, Climate Change, or Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation. ... Legislation should maximize the development of federal incentives to increase local and state transit investment. All community and public transportation systems should be able to decide locally when and how to best deploy federal and local investment for either operating or capital uses.
4. Require states to establish an advisory committee to the state Department of Transportation including at least 51% of persons with disabilities and senior citizens, for all types of transportation services. An advisory committee should also be created in counties and/or areas where there are no transportation services, in order to help establish a transportation system to meet the needs of that county. ...
5. Develop a federal standard that requires all taxi fleets to be wheelchair accessible/universally designed that can be adopted by the U.S. Access Board. At a minimum private transportation services such as taxis, limousines and/or shuttle services, must have 10-20% (with a minimum of at least one accessible vehicle) wheelchair accessible/universally designed vehicles.
6. Make all train cars, stations, and any mechanism used to assist with boarding, doorways and vestibules accessible. According to the Amtrak staff at The Piedmont in Charlotte, North Carolina, there are no accessible cars for wheelchair users. As a result, one may be able to get to his or her destination on a car that is accessible but may not be able to travel home because the car on the return train may not be accessible. ... Also, all stations must maximize accessibility improvements including stations not designated as key stations.
7. Create legislation that requires support for mobility management and coordination programs and voucher programs among public transportation providers, other human services agencies providing transportation services, and volunteer driver and aide programs ... by establishing a dedicated funding source for these services. The mobility needs of individuals with disabilities in rural communities are significant. New initiatives to address their unique needs, such as the need for accessible transportation services to transport individuals between the various Municipalities, must be included in any transportation reauthorization.
8. Expand Section 5310 [rural general purpose], the Job Access and Reverse Commute program and the New Freedom program that serves a critical need in the disability community. ... The program should be strengthened by improved oversight and transparency to help nonprofit partners understand how to access the program and assist policy makers understand how the program is being used.
9. Produce all information by transportation authorities for the purpose of informing the general public of their function and schedule of operations in an accessible format upon request. Such formats must address the needs and requests of the patron requesting such an alternative format like large print (18 size font), braille, and computer disk (digital format). In addition, transportation websites must meet the requirements set forth under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
10. Establish a federal standard that requires all commercial airline carriers, as well as small air carriers, to provide personnel with adequate training in safe methods of transfer for passengers with mobility disabilities onto both small and large aircraft. ...
11. Allow service animals including psychiatric service dogs & emotional support animals (ESA) to follow their user.
NCIL and other disability rights organizations, particularly those representing people with cognitive disabilities, are advocating for the ABLE Act, which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience Act. Modeled on the qualified tuition program, the Act would amend the tax code to encourage saving for "disability-related expenses on behalf of designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act, the supplemental security income program under title XVI of such Act, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources." These expenses include housing, transportation, education, employment supports, health and wellness, and assistive technology, among others, including spending on public transit or modifying personal vehicles.