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Administration to Spend $1.7B to Make Rail Stations and Subways Accessible

July 26, 2022 by Dan McCue
(Photo by Flavio Cardoso vis UnSplash)

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration announced Tuesday morning that it is allocating just over $1.7 billion to make hundreds of aging subway and commuter rail stations across the country accessible to people with mobility issues.

The unveiling of the initiative, which is called the All Stations Accessibility Program and will be administered by the Federal Transit Administration, comes on the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But retrofitting existing stations won’t be easy and each project will surely be expensive. The federal funding will be provided through annual competitive grants amounting to $343 million over the life of the five-year program.

In all, about 900 stations in the U.S. are considered inaccessible to individuals with disabilities.

“This program is a big deal,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during a conference call with reporters Thursday night. “It will allow more people to take advantage of rail and subway systems transit.

“It will help millions. People will be able to go to work, see their family. It means parents of adult children with disabilities will be given back hours in their day organizing transportation,” Buttigieg said.

The transportation secretary went on to say that the envisioned changes to the station will have an impact far beyond the disability community.

He noted the improvements will also benefit commuters with luggage, parents with strollers and those confronting temporary mobility issues due to surgery.

“For many people who use a wheelchair or are blind or have low vision, or just have a bad knee or [are] coming out of surgery, or older folks who have trouble getting up and down stairs, this often means that affordable public transportation by rail is not an option. That is not right, it is not fair,” Buttigieg said.

Mitch Landrieu, a senior adviser to the president and the administration’s infrastructure coordinator, agreed, saying, “everyone should be able to get to work easily, everyone should be able to get to the people in places they love and the activities that bring them joy.

“Accessibility should never be a barrier,” Landrieu said.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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