Trenton – A Senate committee approved two bills authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that would help improve transportation services for the disabled.
One bill, S-1934, would have the Department of Human Services authorize any recipient of disability benefits, including Social Security, to use those resources to pay for services offered by a transportation network company that uses a digital network to provide prearranged rides. These companies would include Uber and Lyft.
“Transportation services are critical needs for those with disabilities,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “They are needed to live their day-to-day lives. This will allow them to make use of modern day services such as Uber and Lyft so they can get to where they need to safely and conveniently.”
The bill would also require the Department of Human Services to work with the Department of Transportation to develop and implement a public awareness campaign to inform the recipients of disability benefits of the transportation options under the bill.
The companion measure, S-1935, would require the Department of Human Services to utilize the services of a Transportation Planning Coordinator to manage and oversee the transportation services provided to the department’s clients. The coordinator would have the training and experience to coordinate the services that are so important to the disabled.
“We need to make sure that all the transportation services provided to those with disabilities are operating effectively and efficiently,” said Senator Sweeney. “The department’s clients rely on these services. They should be coordinated, they should be safe and they should be reliable. That will be the coordinator’s responsibility.”
The transportation coordinator would submit annual reports to the commissioner of the Department of Transportation on the work and progress over the prior year.
“The Arc of New Jersey thanks Senate President Sweeney for his ongoing work to improve transportation options for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Tom Baffuto, Executive Director, The Arc of New Jersey. “In order to be fully integrated members of society, individuals with IDD require appropriate transportation services that will allow them to find employment, socialize with family and friends and navigate their way to a life of greater independence. Broadening the scope of available transportation choices and enhancing current offerings will give individuals easier access to the community. We thank the Senate President for all he does to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities.”
Both measures were approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.