Meeting Needs of Disabled Riders

As a public transportation agency, NJ Transit has an obligation to meet the needs of all riders, regardless of their mobility, visibility, or auditory challenges. Over time, we have reported on how well—or not well—they are providing services. We know that Access Link, which provides services to medical appointments and other destinations for those unable to independently ride scheduled transit, shadows NJ Transit bus lines—but what about those who can, with reasonable accommodation, navigate regular bus and train routes? One thing that is imperative for such individuals is good signage—where am I, where are elevators or restrooms, when is the next train coming, etc? Our inspection trip to Hackettstown showed the deficiency of such signage at Secaucus, where finding the elevator was a noted challenge. We also learned that NJT policies, which look good in theory, are not always put into practice—a number of our South Jersey members missed their connection when it came in on a different track than originally planned.

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Report from the Chair: Sept./Oct. 2022

In addition to my role as Lackawanna Coalition chairperson, I am a member of SCDRTAC, the Senior Citizens and Disabled Residents Transportation Advisory Committee of NJ Transit, and I find more and more common concerns. At the last SCDRTAC meeting, member Sara Thompson gave a presentation on issues that affect riders with hearing limitations, and they are some of the same issues that have been discussed recently on our informal e-mail list: quality of PA announcements on trains and in stations; use of the visual station announcement system on railcars, and even the translucency, rather than transparency, of train windows, especially on the newer dual-level cars.

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On the Rails with the Coalition

On Friday, May 20, folks from the Lackawanna Coalition teamed up with some folks from the Senior Citizens and Disabled Residents Transportation Advisory Committee (SCDRTAC) on an inspection trip on the Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton lines. We left from Newark Broad Street on the 2:16 P.M. Montclair-Boonton train and stopped in Dover for dinner at Ohh Que Rica, an informal Colombian restaurant a short walk from the station. A few of us turned back there, having early-evening appointments, while the rest went on to Hackettstown. There we had a half-hour layover; a few of us stayed at the station or on the train: others braved the oncoming rain to head downtown for a quick beer.

We returned on the Morris & Essex line, some of us peeling off at stops along the way, others going as far as Secaucus, where adventures ensued.

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Increase in Funding for Transportation for Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities Becomes Law

Funding for transportation for senior citizens and persons with disabilities will be increased.  The bill that will raise the portion of the Casino Revenue Fund that will be spent on special transportation programs will increase from 7.5% to 8.5% beginning with the next fiscal year on July 1st.  Because revenue earned by the casinos in Atlantic City has decreased recently, the total amount of funding will decrease.  Still, the percentage increase makes the picture less gloomy than it otherwise might have been.  The Lackawanna Coalition supported the measure.

Funding Bill for Senior/Disabled Passes Assembly

Assembly Bill 2046, which would increase the portion of the Casino Revenue Fund for transportation for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, passed the Assembly on January 11th by a vote of 75 to 2, with 2 abstentions.  The measure would raise the percentage of the fund dedicated to special transportation from 7.5 to 8.5%.  The Senate passed a similar measure in December, and Goveror Corzine is expected to sign the bills before he leaves office.  The Lackawanna Coalition supports the initiative.