Congress members Newman and Garcia introduce bill to make public transit more accessible

Congress members Newman and Garcia introduce bill to make public transit more accessible
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Congress members Newman and Garcia introduce bill to make public transit more accessible

New ASAP Act would establish a federal grant program to upgrade transit systems across the nation to be 100% accessible  

On Tuesday May 18, 2021, U.S. Representatives Marie Newman (D-IL-03) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL-04) introduced legislation to make public transportation systems more accessible to passengers with disabilities.

The “All Stations Accessibility Program” (ASAP) Act of 2021 would establish a federal grant program to support transit and commuter rail systems to upgrade stations to meet or exceed accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Bob Casey (D-PA). 

Congresswoman Marie Newman, 3rd District Illinois

Congresswoman Marie Newman, 3rd District Illinois

“Building world-class, equitable public transportation starts by ensuring every station, bus and train across our nation is equally accessible to everyone,” said Congresswoman Newman.

“In cities across the country, public transit represents the great connector to jobs, housing, education and opportunity, but this great public service falls short of its promise when it is not accessible to all Americans. Through the ASAP Act of 2021, we can provide our cities with the funding they need to ensure their public transit systems can better serve all riders, especially those with disabilities and our seniors.” 

According to the Federal Transit Administration, as of 2019 nearly 20% of all transit stations were not ADA accessible. The ASAP Act would establish a discretionary grant program that supports local transit authority and commuter rail efforts to increase the number of existing accessible stations or facilities that meet or exceed accessibility design standards under the ADA for rapid rail and commuter rail systems. The program would appropriate $10 billion over 10 years – at least $1 billion annually – for this grant program. 

Congressman Jesus "Chewy" Garcia 4th District Illinois

Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia 4th District Illinois

“Public transportation systems should be accessible to all Americans, especially those protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 30 years later and we still have a long way to go,” said Congressman García.

“Our All Stations Accessibility Program Act will ensure the federal government provides the resources our local transit agencies need, including the Chicago Transit Authority, to make accessibility a reality.” 

“While we’ve come a long way since the ink dried on the ADA more than 30 years ago, but we still have a long way to go to make this country truly accessible, including making sure that every American can use our nation’s public transportation systems,” said Senator Duckworth. “It’s imperative that transit systems continue to make accessibility a priority, and I’m proud to introduce the ASAP Act to help ensure local transit authorities have the funding they need to expedite station upgrades that meet or exceed accessibility standards.” 

This legislation is supported by the City of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, Access Living, The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Transportation Task Force and Transportation Equity Caucus. Since 2018, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has partnered with the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities on their own ASAP Strategic Plan, with the goal to ensure all rail stations across the city are 100 % accessible in the next 20 years. 

About Congressman Garcia

U.S. Representative Jesús G. “Chuy” García proudly represents the Fourth Congressional District of Illinois. Throughout his career, Congressman García has been a progressive voice, both as an organizer and as a legislator, fighting to improve the lives of his working-class neighbors, many of whom are immigrants like him. He is a coalition builder committed to expanding access to quality education, affordable housing, and economic opportunity. He currently serves as a member of the influential Financial Services Committee, Natural Resources Committee, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the Congressional Equality Caucus, Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, and New Americans Caucus. He is also the founder the Future of Transportation Caucus. He previously served as Cook County Commissioner, where he spearheaded a ban on discriminatory practices involving landlords limiting lease opportunities people who rely on housing choice vouchers. Congressman García also served in the Illinois Senate from 1993 to 1999, where he passed legislation to protect immigrants against abusive fees from notary publics and legislation to make interpreters available to hospital patients with limited English language abilities. From 1986 to 1993 he was a member of the Chicago City Council, where he passed an ordinance to help immigrants complete green card applications. Congressman García was born in Los Pinos, a small village in the Mexican state of Durango. He came to the United States with his family 1965 with permanent resident status, to join his father who worked in the fields during the bracero program and later in a cold storage plant in Chicago. He still remembers his first American meal: a bologna sandwich from a roadside diner in Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in urban planning from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Congressman García and his wife Evelyn live in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. They have three adult children and six grandchildren.

About Congressman Newman

A freshman member in the 117th Congress, Congresswoman Marie Newman represents Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, which covers the Southwest Side of Chicago as well as its surrounding suburbs. A lifelong advocate for growing small businesses, protecting health care rights, strengthening our infrastructure and building a greener economy, Congresswoman Newman is the first woman in history to represent Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. In Congress, she currently serves on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, House Committee on Small Business, Congressional Labor Caucus, House Democratic Manufacturing Working Group, Democratic Women’s Caucus and as the Vice Chair of Communications for the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

Growing up on Chicago’s Southwest Side and suburbs, Congresswoman Newman has been a lifelong resident of Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. With her dad and uncles all serving the country in the U.S. Army and Marines, she learned at an early age not only the critical importance of public service but also the immense value of lifting up your community and those around you. That’s why when one of her children was severely bullied in school, Congresswoman Newman launched a nationally-recognized non-profit program called “Team Up To Stop Bullying” and worked with state and federal lawmakers to ensure anti-bullying policies became a reality. In addition to serving as a spokesperson for Moms Demand Action Illinois, Congresswoman Newman has used her strong background in advocacy and legislative advocacy over the past decade to grow a statewide coalition to fight for national issues such as health care rights, economic rights, LGBTQ+ rights and common-sense gun safety.

Prior to being elected, Congresswoman Newman worked as a marketing executive and partner at one of the nation’s largest ad agencies before becoming a small business owner herself after launching a successful consulting company. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin thanks in part to her grandfather, a union carpenter, who built a double desk for his grandchildren to study on so they might be among the first in the family to go to college. A reminder of the strength and perseverance of union families and the dignity of hard work, Congresswoman Newman still uses that desk today.

Congresswoman Newman resides in La Grange, Illinois with her husband and two children.

Ray Hanania

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