(TRENTON) – Taking steps to improve efficiency and accessibility to paratransit services in New Jersey for disabled and elderly residents, the full Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved (74-0) a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Carol Murphy and Bill Moen to establish the Transportation Services Coordination Task Force.
Under the bill (A-2429), the group would study ways to better coordinate transit services, particularly for people with disabilities, and then make recommendations for NJ TRANSIT – including Access Link, the agency’s paratransit service for people with disabilities – as well as the New Jersey Department of Transportation and counties.
“Paratransit providers serve our most vulnerable, including seniors and people with disabilities who would otherwise have difficulty using public transportation,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. “Though these services are intended to make transit more convenient and equitable for disabled riders, we’ve heard from many customers who have experienced significant delays and service interruptions. We’re determined to find ways to improve efficiency and coordination between Access Link and local units so that riders can get where they need to go without hassle.”
“Access Link and other paratransit services are a vital resource for residents with disabilities. However, we know there’s room for growth in how these programs operate,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “Disabled residents should never be waiting 90 minutes or more just to catch a bus, with no status updates from the paratransit provider. It’s time we reform our paratransit system to ensure riders have a more positive experience.”
“Paratransit should be accessible and reliable to all customers, and we hear too often from residents that it is not,” said Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester). “The purpose of this council will be to better connect paratransit agencies statewide so that the system can be depended on by disabled residents.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for further review.