As A Person With A Disability, Here Is What Biden’s Plan To Make Public Transit More Accessible Means To Me

Hi. I’m Jason, And I Have Cerebral Palsy

That’s not the way I normally introduce myself, but it is something that everyone notices when they meet me, so let’s talk.

I was born with cerebral palsy. It is not something that I talk about in my writing very often, but it is a part of my life.

Jason Easley Of PoliticusUSA
Me on a spring hike with my hiking poles. (Those aren’t crutches).

I have an amazing partner. I have the best job in the world. I am very lucky.  I am not the cultural stereotype of a person with a disability, but transportation is a constant source of difficulty and anxiety in my life.

Accessible Transportation Please

Because just 17.9% of persons with a disability are employed, which is down from  19.3% BC (Before Covid), there has been an assumption in American society that people with a disability don’t have to go anywhere, but accessible transportation options are one of the keys to differently-abled persons having an independent life.

Unfortunately, even three decades after the ADA was passed, much of the nation’s public transportation system remains inaccessible to millions of disabled Americans.

Wait. Who Put All Of Those Steps There?

I don’t drive. I used to, but as my reflexes changed, and the state of Pennsylvania said we don’t think this is such a great idea, so for almost all of my life, I have not driven.

In daily life, I need to get from place to place. Since I don’t live in a big city, that means relying on a bus or a train. Journalism isn’t a great way to get rich, and rideshares like Uber and Lyft can get pricey fast.

Asking friends and my partner for rides constantly doesn’t feel good. It is disempowering to have some of the same obstacles to travel as the Amazon package sitting on your porch right now.

If a differently-abled person can find public transportation, there is no guarantee that it is accessible. There is nothing like arriving at a bus or train station with your bags in hand to be met with an access point that is inaccessible.

From flights of stairs to challenges getting to platforms to doors that aren’t made for people with disabilities to use, public transit stations can be full of challenges, big and small.

I am not too proud to admit that I have taken a tumble or two trying to navigate our nation’s public transit.

The US public transportation system is old and still in many ways not modernized for accessiblity. Millions of differently-abled travelers either risk their physical well-being to get where they need to go, or sadly, they don’t go at all.

Biden Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill To Modernize 1,000 Transit Stations

President Biden sees the problem. According to a White House fact sheet provided to PoliticusUSA, “More than 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, nearly 1,000 transit stations are still not fully accessible, which prevents millions of older Americans and individuals with disabilities from fully enjoying public transit. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total of $2 billion for transit ADA, including $1.75 billion for All Stations Accessibility and $250 million for Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities. These programs will remove barriers to transportation service and expand transportation mobility options for Americans across the country.”

A Big F-ing Deal For Persons With Disabilities

 

Accessible transportation is a game-changer for differently-abled persons. Trump rolled back disability rules, which made it more difficult for people with disabilities to get to doctor’s appointments and receive adequate medical care.

If people struggled to get to the doctor, that also means that they struggled to get to work, go to school, get groceries, or travel anywhere.

The modernization of public transportation to make stations more accessible will provide persons with disabilities more freedom, independence, and self-esteem.

Two billion dollars may not seem like much when the government spends trillions, but for persons with disabilities, like me, it sends the message that we are seen and serves as a downpayment on transportation equality.