Improving Transportation for People with Disabilities: New NCD Recommendations

Members | May 03, 2015

On May 4, the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency that advises the president, Congress, and other federal agencies on disability policy, released a comprehensive assessment surface transportation for people with disabilities.

On May 4, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released "Transportation Update: Where We’ve Gone and What We’ve Learned," a new report offering a comprehensive assessment of surface transportation for people with disabilities. 

The report is a follow-up to the NCD’s 2005 publication, “The Current State of Transportation for People with Disabilities in the United States,” which led, in part, to major improvements in accessible transportation.

The new report outlines both the progress made in the last decade and details the persistent barriers that remain. 

More people with disabilities are riding public transit than ever before and yet in many areas, significant barriers to ground transportation for Americans with disabilities remain pervasive.  

NCD’s report also makes recommendations to policymakers to address these barriers.

Key Transportation Findings 


  • Taxi Alternatives: Emerging transportation models like Uber, SideCar, and Lyft have vigorously resisted regulations typically imposed on the taxicab sector, harming the taxi industry and evading requirements that serve the public interest, including deficits in service to people with disabilities. Uber openly claims it is not covered by the ADA.

  • Fixed Route Buses: Ridership of fixed route bus transit and rail systems by people with disabilities has grown far faster than ridership on ADA para-transit.

  • Para-transit: There have been great gains in best practices in the areas of eligibility, telephone hold time, on-time performance, no-show policies, and origin-to-destination service, but they are often not implemented.

  • Rural Transportation: Minimal or non-existent transit service in rural and remote areas still creates serious barriers to employment, accessible health care, and full participation in society.

  • Rail Transit: Amtrak has lagged behind in meeting ADA requirements for its stations, platforms, train cars, reservations practices, and communications access.


The report noted that the states of Oregon, Iowa, and Maine provide examples of positive coordination of transportation programs for people with disabilities.  

Many cities still lack adequate wheelchair accessible taxi programs, despite progress in some locations, including Chicago, New York, and Rhode Island.