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Paratransit, the ADA, and Ensuring Transportation Services for All

The transportation industry prides itself on serving all members of the public, regardless of ability.

This week, we celebrate that.

July 26th marks the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. That piece of legislation drastically changed the transportation industry throughout the country, so this week, we at the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association are looking back at how paratransit has changed, and to the future to see what’s next for the industry.

Prior to the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 served as the cornerstone legislation governing the paratransit industry. This bill prohibited programs receiving federal assistance from excluding those with disabilities. From there, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) defined how the industry needed to make buses accessible or to provide paratransit services where there was public transit.

That work was furthered by the ADA. The Act was passed to help secure the civil rights of people with disabilities and help protect them from being discriminated against because of their disabilities. Title III of the ADA directed businesses to make reasonable modifications to ensure they could serve people with disabilities.

Multiple TLPA members were heavily involved in the process. Robbie Werth of Diamond Transportation Services, Alexandria, VA, and TLPA CEO Al LaGasse testified in front of the House Subcommittee on Public Works and Transportation to help clarify the language within the bill. Werth was there when President George H.W. Bush signed the bill. LaGasse was appointed by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to serve on a federal advisory committee to the FTA working on implementation of the ADA.

This legislation has triggered dramatic changes in the passenger transportation industry. Since its implementation, transit systems throughout the country have had to implement services that are ADA compliant, and as a result, the private paratransit industry has expanded drastically. As demand has grown, so have the ways in which services are provided. Computerized reservation, scheduling, and dispatch systems have helped transportation companies provide top-level services to consumers. GPS systems and cell phones have made trips more efficient and cost-effective, and continue to do so.

And what comes next is just as important.

As the U.S. population ages, the paratransit industry will become even more necessary. The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and this group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent. What’s more, technological advancements and increased competition from TNCs will continue to change how the paratransit industry operates. And then there is the impact autonomous vehicles will have on paratransit-service delivery, but that’s for another blog.

So, this week we celebrate the 27th anniversary of the ADA, and the TLPA is glad to celebrate leaders in paratransit who will continue to provide these necessary services to millions of Americans through the next 27 years. 

Posted 7/24/2017 4:51:10 PM