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U.S. Representatives Marie Newman And Jesús “Chuy” García Introduce Legislation To Make Public Transit More Accessible

May 18, 2021

New ASAP Act would establish a federal grant program to upgrade transit systems across the nation to be 100% accessible

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Marie Newman (D-IL-03) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL-04) introduced legislation to make public transportation systems more accessible to passengers with disabilities. The All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act of 2021 would establish a federal grant program to support transit and commuter rail systems to upgrade stations to meet or exceed accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Bob Casey (D-PA). 

“Building world-class, equitable public transportation starts by ensuring every station, bus and train across our nation is equally accessible to everyone,” said Congresswoman Newman. “In cities across the country, public transit represents the great connector to jobs, housing, education and opportunity, but this great public service falls short of its promise when it is not accessible to all Americans. Through the ASAP Act of 2021, we can provide our cities with the funding they need to ensure their public transit systems can better serve all riders, especially those with disabilities and our seniors.” 

According to the Federal Transit Administration, as of 2019 nearly 20% of all transit stations were not ADA accessible. The ASAP Act would establish a discretionary grant program that supports local transit authority and commuter rail efforts to increase the number of existing accessible stations or facilities that meet or exceed accessibility design standards under the ADA for rapid rail and commuter rail systems. The program would appropriate $10 billion over 10 years – at least $1 billion annually – for this grant program. 

“Public transportation systems should be accessible to all Americans, especially those protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 30 years later and we still have a long way to go,” said Congressman García. “Our All Stations Accessibility Program Act will ensure the federal government provides the resources our local transit agencies need, including the Chicago Transit Authority, to make accessibility a reality.” 

“While we’ve come a long way since the ink dried on the ADA more than 30 years ago, but we still have a long way to go to make this country truly accessible, including making sure that every American can use our nation’s public transportation systems,” said Senator Duckworth. “It’s imperative that transit systems continue to make accessibility a priority, and I’m proud to introduce the ASAP Act to help ensure local transit authorities have the funding they need to expedite station upgrades that meet or exceed accessibility standards.” 

This legislation is supported by the City of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, Access Living, The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Transportation Task Force and Transportation Equity Caucus. Since 2018, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has partnered with the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities on their own ASAP Strategic Plan, with the goal to ensure all rail stations across the city are 100 % accessible in the next 20 years.