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McKeon & Wisniewski Bill to Allow Guide or Service Dogs on Public Transportation Services Approved by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John F. McKeon and John S. Wisniewski prohibiting New Jersey Transit from denying access to individuals accompanied by guide or service dogs on public transportation services was approved last week by an Assembly panel.

“These dogs provide an invaluable service to individuals who may otherwise not be able to get around on their own. Not allowing these dogs on a bus or a train essentially denies these individuals access to transportation services that are meant for public use,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris).

“These dogs are specifically trained to make routine tasks like riding the train possible for individuals with disabilities. There is no reason why individuals who rely on these dogs for assistance should not be allowed to use a public service like other residents,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex).

The bill (A-1992) prohibits NJ Transit from denying any person the use of or entry to any vehicle used for public transportation services or any vehicle used for providing transportation to persons with disabilities because the person is accompanied by an appropriately controlled guide or service dog. Under the bill, a person with disabilities aided by a guide or service dog, or any guide or service dog trainer with a guide or service dog on any bus, train or other form of transportation operated by NJ Transit, may keep such dog, appropriately controlled, in their immediate custody.

The bill requires NJ Transit to designate an Access Link Customer Service Group to handle complaints regarding Access Link service and establish procedures on how such complaints should be processed and resolved. The bill also requires the NJ Transit Director of ADA Services to report semi-annually to the NJ Transit board, and send a copy of that report to the Division on Civil Rights in the Department of Law and Public Safety, New Jersey Protection and Advocacy, Inc. and the Community Health Law Project.

The bill was released by the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities on January 17.