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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Federal Transportation 2017: What to Watch for and How to Take Action

For 2017, transportation advocates in the disability community will need to watch and take action as needed under the new Trump Administration on the following issues.

Comprehensive Transportation Funding Package: In December 2015, Congress passed and President Obama signed a five year reauthorization bill called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Candidate Trump called for increased investment in transportation and infrastructure. While no one believes that President Trump will undo the FAST Act, what type of additional funding package will occur, particularly with the current makeup of Congress and a mixed economy?

First Federal Budget: This should come out shortly. Areas to watch include the T-HUD funds (Transportation and Housing), which include Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding where communities access significant dollars for curb cuts. Will this budget proposal include all modes, primary areas of interest to the disability community, and those who support them by providing additional funds for mass transit and/or paratransit, Amtrak and other venues?

Department Of Justice and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Enforcement: How does the perspective Attorney General Jeff Sessions (unconfirmed as of publication) view the ADA? What efforts will be made to enforce it? How aggressive will compliance efforts (fines, sanctions, required trainings, upgrades) be, and how will they impact accessibility of transit, Amtrak, taxis, Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs such as Uber and Lyft), airports, boats, private buses? 

Air Travel: NCIL will continue our work on this issue. In September 2017, the current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization will expire. This extension included a request for DOT to report its findings on disability concerns to Congress and to implement best models of practice. What will perspective new DOT Chief Elaine Chao and her staff do here? Will they support areas of concern for the disability community in the upcoming FAA Reauthorization? What about enforcing the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)?

Medicaid Transportation: The Federal Government Accounting Office (GAO) has stated that the CMS guidance is outdated for Medicaid Transportation (last comprehensive overhaul occurred in the late 1990s). Later in the Spring of 2016, CMS published some additional guidance. Much is changing with new technology and the use of TNCs for paratransit. Will the Trump Administration further update this area or continue to use outdated models?

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