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Disabled Rights Activist's Group - Together We CAN Make a Difference!

"New Freedom Initiative Transportation Update"

The Congressional Conference Committee to discuss the Department of Transportation Fiscal Year 2002 Appropriations bill is meeting now. As you may recall, the Senate version of the bill fully funds the $145 million transportation component of President Bush's New Freedom Initiative. The Administration supports the Senate retaining its current New Freedom Initiative language and the House accepting the Senate's language. Last February, President Bush unveiled his New Freedom Initiative, a comprehensive set of proposals to fulfill America's promise to the 54 million Americans with disabilities. The New Freedom Initiative will provide Americans with disabilities with increased access to innovative technologies, expanded educational opportunities, better integration into the workforce, and participation and full access to community life. Recognizing that inaccessible transportation can be a barrier to work and community life, President Bush's FY 2002 budget for the Department of Transportation includes $145 million in funding to expand transportation options for Americans with disabilities. The $145 million in funding will allow the Department of Transportation to establish two important programs:

  • Innovative Pilot Program: The President's budget proposes $45 million to fund pilot programs that demonstrate innovative approaches to overcoming the transportation barriers still faced by Americans with disabilities. State and local governments, non-profit organizations, and other transportation providers will be eligible applicants. Grants will be awarded to fund service, technological, and institutional solutions for overcoming mobility barriers that prevent Americans with disabilities from fully participating in community life. Pilots will be developed in close consultation with disability organizations and transportation providers.
  • Competitive Matching Grant Program: The President's budget proposes $100 million for a matching grant program to better integrate Americans with disabilities into the workplace by promoting a network of alternative methods of transportation. Community-based organizations, non-profits, and other transportation providers will be eligible applicants. Funds will be apportioned to the states to administer the program and will be used be for activities such as the purchase and operation of specialty vans, ridesharing activities, community assessment planning, and the extension of existing transportation resources.