TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Jeff Van Drew to include all disabled veterans in New Jersey Transit discount program cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
The bill, S-2489 would amend the current law to include all disabled veterans in the NJ Transit discount program for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Under the bill, a “disabled” veteran is defined as any veteran who is eligible to be compensated for a service-connected disability from war service by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”). The bill would define a “disabled” veteran as a person who receives or is entitled to receive equivalent compensation for a service-connected disability which arises out of military or naval service as set forth in current law and who has submitted sufficient evidence of the record of disability incurred in the line of duty.
“It is only right that we extend this discount to every man and woman who is determined to have a disability as a result of their brave service,” said Senator Cruz Perez. “This legislation is about helping our veterans and giving them the freedom to enter into this discount program, regardless of their disability status. They made sacrifices for us, and we should reward them with the freedom to ride NJ Transit at a discounted price should they choose to.”
“This is worthy goal to provide our veterans with an ample opportunity to ride NJ Transit,” said Senator Van Drew. “Trying to put a disability into a classification system is wrong and unfair. Any injury sustained as a result of their service, regardless of how it is rated by the VA, should be recognized under this program. This bill will give all veterans the ability to qualify for that discount program.”
Under current law, a disabled veteran is only eligible for the NJ Transit discount program for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, if the “VA” has determined that the veteran has a disability rating of 70 percent or greater. The bill would provide that all disabled veterans are to be eligible for the reduced fare program.
The bill would define a “person with disabilities” as any individual who, by reason of illness, injury, age, congenital malfunction, or other permanent or temporary incapacity or disability, is unable without special facilities or special planning or design to utilize mass transportation facilities and services as effectively as persons who are not so affected. The bill would take effect immediately.
S-2489 cleared the committee 13-0 and will now head to the full Senate for further consideration.