Accessible Transportation for People with Disabilities
As we continue to celebrate Jewish Disability Awareness Month here at the RAC, we’re focusing on the many different areas in which our policies and society can do more to empower and meet the needs of people with disabilities. One of those areas is transportation.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all public transportation—city buses, subways, commuter trains, and the like—must be accessible for people with disabilities. Given that 26 percent of adults with disabilities do not own cars and the median income for Americans with disabilities is just over $25,000, which is barely enough to afford a vehicle in many cases, public transportation is crucial for millions of Americans with disabilities. Yet in discussing transportation, as in so many other areas, we often assume that a ramp (both literally and metaphorically) is enough. We assume that we’ve “solved” the problem of reasonable transportation for people with disabilities by having handicap-accessible buses—but this is rarely enough.
We also need handicap-accessible rail stations and taxi cabs. We need a public transportation system that extends into under-served areas so that people with disabilities can access public transit from multiple points in a given city. And we need people with disabilities to be included in these conversations and decisions from the beginning so that we are ultimately serving the needs of the disability community.
All people deserve the ability to be a part of their communities, whether disabled or otherwise. When we cut off people with disabilities from the rest of our towns and cities, we undermine the very point of public transportation. We can, and should, do more to make our communities accessible to all.