The Association of Programs for Rural
Independent Living (APRIL)
“The United Voice of Independent
Living in Rural America”
APRIL’s Response to the FTA Listening Sessions Regarding
The Federal Public Transportation Act of 2005
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users
The recent passage of SAFETEA-LU will provide unprecedented resources for accessible transportation in rural America. The Federal Transit Administration is currently holding “listening sessions” to assist in the development of the regulations and guidelines for the new programs contained in SAFETEA-LU. APRIL has encouraged the FTA to hold additional sessions at various locations around the United States. Currently three sessions are scheduled and APRIL is participating either in person or by teleconference. The following sessions are planned:
•New Freedom, September 113, 2005
•Coordination and planning, September 21, 2005
•Tribal Transportation, October 4, 2005
At the New Freedom Listening session APRIL argued for the following issues:
•The New Freedom Program should encourage innovative and flexible practices and models, especially in rural areas. This should include encouragement to the states to use flexible funding models that can be adapted to new programs.
•The New Freedom Program should not establish priorities for ride purposes. Transit riders should be able to determine their own priorities. Our goal is to enable full community participation.
•The selection process for the projects to be funded at the state level should include representatives of people with disabilities on the selection committee. This should include representation by cross-disability organizations such as the State Independent Living Council.
•APRIL supported the inclusion of the requirement for locally developed, coordinated public transit/human service transportation plans as well as the additional requirements for state transportation plans. We encouraged FTA to include the requirement that all states develop strategies to bring rural transit to all counties that are not currently being served.
•In response to a question regarding the use of New Freedom Funds to renovate DOT offices in California for accessibility accommodations for employees, APRIL and others suggested that the limited funds should be used to provide transportation to people with disabilities.
•States should be encouraged to provide a stable and reliable source of matching funds for accessible transportation. This could be encouraged during the RFP phase. Mike Collins.
•Additional opportunities for input to the FTA should be provided.
At the Listening Session on coordination and planning the discussion was dominated by many large urban districts and how they would implement specific guidelines within the bill. APRIL advocated for the following the following ideas:
•In the development and evaluation of plans cross-disability groups should be at the table. For State Planning the SILC is a logical representative for people with disabilities.
•Technical Assistance activities should include rural counties and rural human service providers who have very limited transportation resources. The goal should be to bring rural transit to all communities throughout the United States.