July 19, 2010
The classifieds in this issue offer a diverse group of jobs including a transit general manager and several other executive positions!
|20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
20 Years: Major Improvements in a Brief Time
BY RICK RAMACIER, General Manager, Central Contra Costa Transit Authority, Concord, CA
When I think about the Americans with Disabilities Act, public transit, and the future, I think about how far we have come since ADA was enacted. In 20 short years, we have gone from a few accessible buses to all buses being accessible. We have gone from many bus stops being inaccessible to persons with disabilities to a majority of accessible stops. We have gone from drivers calling out very few bus stops to calling out all major stops.
These improvements have led to a dramatic increase in the use of fixed route bus service by Americans with disabilities. Making fixed route transit fully accessible was the main and original goal of ADA, and it has been largely fulfilled. And, for those who cannot use fully accessible fixed route bus service or find parts of their system not fully accessible, ADA paratransit services have more than tripled since 1991.
I would like to see the public transit industry build on this success in two ways. First, we should develop a formal process through which the transit providers, regulators, and disability community meet regularly to discuss and examine emerging issues. Any new proposed rules or rule interpretations that involve ADA and public transit would emerge from this formal group.
Second, I want to see true and comprehensive coordination at the federal level among DOT, the Federal Transit Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, etc. I envision a true Coordinating Council that addresses all federal transportation funding and any and all rulemaking that could impact transit either directly or indirectly. The current coordinating council has a good list of members, but the council needs a lot more authority.
As transit providers likely face long-term and significant financial challenges, we must work together and collaboratively to keep the great progress made on making transit fully accessible or risk significant and unacceptable fallback, conflict, and regret.