Recognizing the importance of equal access to transportation for residents with disabilities, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Roy Freiman, Yvonne Lopez and Carol Murphy would allow the use of disability benefits to pay for certain transportation expenses.
Under the bill (A-1158/S-1934), the Department of Human Services (DHS) would be required to authorize anyone receiving benefits from the State and/or federal government for a temporary or permanent disability to use those benefits to pay for transportation services from a registered transportation network company.
Companies that fall under this category include Uber and Lyft, which are available in many New Jersey communities and are often easier/faster to book and less expensive than taxis, and capable of getting passengers closer to their destination than public transit.
The measure would require DHS to work with the Department of Transportation to develop a public awareness campaign to inform disability benefits recipients about their new transportation options.
Upon the legislation unanimously passing the full Assembly Monday, sponsors Freiman (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon), Lopez (D-Middlesex) and Murphy (D-Burlington) issued the following joint statement:
“Nearly 25 million American adults have a disability that limits their ability to travel in some way, while anywhere from 12 to 20 percent of them live in a household without a vehicle. These restrictions make it difficult for people with disabilities to make it to their appointments, visit friends and family, go to the store, and ultimately participate in our society.
“Whenever public transportation and taxis are insufficient, residents with disabilities must be able to turn to other modes of transportation. Now that many transportation network companies have worked to incorporate accessibility features, they can serve as an invaluable resource for people with disabilities.
“Allowing residents to use their disability benefits to pay for these services is absolutely essential to ensuring equitable access to transportation throughout our state.”
Having previously passed the full Senate, the bill now heads to the Governor.