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McKeon, Zwicker & Houghtaling Bill to Reaffirm the Right of Individuals with Service Dogs to Ride on NJ Transit Goes to Gov

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen John F. McKeon, Andrew Zwicker and Eric Houghtaling that would prohibit New Jersey Transit from denying individuals who need a guide or service dog access to any of its modes of transportation was approved, 78-0, by the full Assembly on Monday. The bill will now go to the Governor for further consideration.

NJ Transit previously had a policy that excluded guide dogs on sedans, including its Access Link fleet, which serves the disabled population. NJ Transit later changed its policy.

This bill would codify those changes.

“These individuals already have a tougher time because of their disabilities. There is no need to turn routine tasks like boarding a bus or a train into a predicament,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This bill ensures that any individual who relies on a guide or service dog to help with a disability is able to use public transportation without worry of being turned away and denied service.”

The bill (A-3003) would allow any person with a disability who uses a guide or service dog, or any guide or service dog trainer with a guide or service dog to ride on any bus, train or other form of transportation operated by NJ Transit with the dog, provided the dog is appropriately controlled.

“Many New Jersey residents employ the use of guide and service dogs to help them with daily tasks which increases their independence,” said Zwicker (D- Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). “The only way to ensure service and guide animals are accepted in all places with their owners is to make it law.”

“Guide and service dogs are invaluable to residents with disabilities,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “They should never be mistaken as pets. Guide and service animals are trained to protect and inform their owners. This legislation helps to ensure that residents who need these animals will not be discouraged from taking them wherever they need to go.”

The bill was advanced by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee on June 6.