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
A View from the Access Committee
BY JIM McLAUGHLIN, Senior Project Manager, Wilbur Smith Associates
My most profound recollections of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues and discussions occurred during my years as chair of the APTA Access Committee, when I often represented the industry at meetings and conferences.
During that period, I had the opportunity to meet several times with Justin Dart Jr., who was often cited as the leading force in the passage of ADA. He had a presence and an ability to communicate in simple yet substantive language that conveyed the depth of the commitment of the community to ADA.
Yet I can recall his caution that transit should focus on a “universal” system, which can be used by all, rather than creating a separate parallel network for persons with disabilities that does not connect with the mainstream. Twenty years after passage of the law, many systems still seem to plan and budget their ADA and other paratransit operations separately from fixed route services.
I also had the pleasure of discussing ADA and coordination-related issues many times with Jennifer L. Dorn, then administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), who did her best to improve mobility for those the Government Accountability Office termed as “transportation disadvantaged.”
During those meetings, I noted that ADA services were dissimilar to all other FTA programs because there were no connections between the industry and the FTA based on planning processes. Virtually all modifications in the service system followed court decisions, consent decrees, and interpretations of letters authored by attorneys. Unfortunately, we were not able to break out of that mode of operation.
Perhaps, today with more emphasis on livability and sustainability, we can commingle new ADA riders, such as returning veterans, into a thoroughly planned integrated network of services—not just transportation, but one system for all Americans.