TURNER LEGISLATION PROHIBITING BIAS AGAINST NJ TRANSIT PASSENGERS WITH A GUIDE/SERVICE DOG CLEARED COMMITTEE

Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) testifies during today’s Senate voting session.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would prohibit New Jersey Transit from denying entry or use of any vehicle to a person who uses a guide or service dog cleared the Senate Transportation Committee today.

The bill stems from an old NJ Transit policy that excluded guide dogs on sedans, including its Access Link fleet, which serves the disabled population. NJ Transit amended its policy, and the bill establishes the changes in law.

“Allowing those who use guide or service dogs the same access to transportation as everyone else is really a matter of fairness and common sense,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer, Hunterdon).  “These individuals are entitled to the same rights as any other passenger who enjoys public transportation, and I’m glad NJ Transit agrees. This would ensure that going forward, state law regarding this kind of discrimination is clear. We should be doing everything we can to prevent discrimination and support those with special needs.”

The bill, S-1379, would amend the “New Jersey Public Transportation Act of 1979” to prohibit this kind of discrimination.  Moreover, it would allow anyone using a guide or service dog to keep the dog with them while riding on any bus, train or other form of transportation operated by the Transit agency. The dog would have to be appropriately controlled while in transit.

In addition, the legislation would require NJ Transit to designate an Access Link Customer Service Group to receive and act on any complaints regarding Access Link service to people with disabilities. The bill would establish procedures by which complaints would be processed and resolved. Access Link is the paratransit service implemented by New Jersey Transit for purposes of complying with the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”

The bill cleared the committee 4-0 and now heads to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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