Feds Boost Funding for Public Transit Accessibility

By: - July 26, 2022 12:00 am

People navigate the stairs at a subway station in the Queens borough of New York in 2020. The federal government is giving grants to public transit agencies to improve their accessibility to riders. Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press

The Federal Transit Administration has announced that it will provide $1.75 billion in grants to transit agencies to improve accessibility for riders.

The money, which comes from the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, will make it easier for people to get on board the nation’s oldest public rail systems, officials said. Transit agencies can use the funding to retrofit subway stations so people who need an elevator or ramp, including those who use wheelchairs, can access them.

“While our country has made enormous progress in the three decades since passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, too many people with disabilities still don’t have access to reliable public transportation,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

According to the federal transit agency, more than 900 rail systems built before 1990 are not fully accessible to riders. The agency said the new funding will help them repair, improve, modify and retrofit stations or facilities.

In some of the largest cities, where a lot of daily commuters rely on trains, people with disabilities who would like to use subways and commuter rail aren’t able to because there aren’t elevators at every station.

More than 25 million Americans have self-reported travel-limiting disabilities, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

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Jenni Bergal

Jenni Bergal covers transportation, infrastructure and cybersecurity for Stateline. She has been a reporter at Kaiser and the Center for Public Integrity.