Testimony on HB 2064 to the House Transportation Committee

Public Input Provided in 2011

April 20, 2011

Testimony
House Transportation Committee
HB 2064 by Representative Allen

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by federal law in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and consists of a 27 member board, appointed by the Governor, 60% of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. The Council is authorized in law to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

House Bill (HB) 2064 would require the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct a study of public transportation services in Texas designed for people with disabilities. This bill would also require TxDOT to report and make recommendations on the findings of the study. Without access to transportation, people with disabilities are isolated from gainful employment, schools, doctors, shopping, friends and community. Texas transportation systems need to be accessible in all areas of the state, particularly in rural parts of Texas. As economic pressures build and federal funding remains static, communities have not been able to expand or develop transportation services to adequately meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. State funding for transportation services (bus systems, paratransit services, commuter rail services, etc.) is a critical element needed to support the growth of transportation systems throughout the state. Where transportation services do exist, they often struggle to be responsive to consumer needs.

In Texas, transportation systems are developed by numerous agencies that can be local or regional entities. There are 22 regional Lead Agencies responsible for regional service planning for transportation coordination. These entities operate independently, and make decisions regarding the creation or expansion of new or existing transit systems. Additionally, local city and county governments have the authority to develop funding sources for transit systems which do not typically rely on state funds to operate.

There are efforts to address public transportation for people with disabilities; however, there has not been a single statewide study that examines the transportation needs of people with disabilities across the state. Requiring TxDOT to complete this study and make recommendations would help address any inefficiencies in public transportation and provide an understanding of transportation eligibility requirements for people with disabilities in Texas.

Respectfully Submitted,
Cassie Laws-Fisher
Public Policy Specialist
(512) 437-5432