- NJ Transit CEO and Board of Directors
- United States of America
Allow SCDRTAC to discuss ALL senior-citizen/disabled-resident issues!
Since 1984, NJ Transit’s Senior Citizens and Disabled Residents Transportation Advisory Committee (SCDRTAC) has helped our state’s most-vulnerable riders by giving advice both within and outside the NJ Transit agency and by making suggestions that would improve mobility for senior citizens and disabled persons.
Now, suddenly, without any notice, SCDRTAC has been threatened with the loss of any authority to continue helping the seniors and riders with disabilities whom we were founded to help. A new set of regulations (N.J.A.C. 16:78-4.1[b]) concerning a grant program for transportation providers contains a provision that would prohibit SCDRTAC from even discussing any other topic, as we have done for the past 38 years. Worse, someone sneaked that fatal restriction into the proposed rules without telling us—we discovered it purely by accident.
The statutes that established both SCDRTAC and NJ Transit itself include broad purposes, yet the proposed regulation would prohibit the Committee from even discussing such topics as NJ Transit’s bus, rail, and light-rail services; Access Link paratransit; funding for those services; connectivity between any lines, modes, or services; accommodation required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); accessibility for all public transportation services; and all other issues that directly concern how seniors and persons living with disabilities in our State get around!
WHAT THE FATAL REGULATIONS WOULD DO
The proposal would limit the Committee’s purview to a single grant program for county-level community-transportation providers, who are not required to so much as listen to us. We would be prohibited from discussing or giving advice about any other topic. Our By-laws allow us broad discretion to help our vulnerable rider-constituents, as they have since the committee was created 38 years ago. These would be eliminated, along with the ability to modify them.
The proposed changes would violate both our original 1983 mandate and the purpose of the 1979 Act establishing NJ Transit. It would also violate the law that requires administrative regulations to support existing statutes.
Worse yet, the rule would silence NJ Transit’s only public-transportation advocates for seniors and persons with disabilities. A majority of our members depend on the services of concern and our committee has several members with nationwide reputations in the field. We are not high-powered motorists who make decisions about how much mobility is allowed to others, who have fewer resources and options; the majority of us are subject to those decisions.
WE’RE FIGHTING BACK!
The NJ Transit Board of Directors was all set to approve this “poison pill” aimed at our Committee, but 7 of our members expressed our dismay at their meeting on December 14th, and we convinced them to postpone a decision until their next meeting on Wednesday evening, February 8 at 6 p.m. This extra time was intended to allow us to work out a solution with NJ Transit management, but it took almost a month for anybody at NJ Transit to discuss setting a date for such a meeting; we still have not been told who was responsible for the change or who has the authority to reverse it. Since we had that meeting on January 17th, there has been no communication from NJ Transit managers to us, despite an assurance that they would communicate.
We ask for your support in opposing 3 sentences in this rule-making proposal that limits our purview; we encourage you to make your voices heard. Make a statement about how SCDRTAC should survive without change.
Here are our main points:
• SCDRTAC has been advocating for seniors and people with disabilities since 1984 without restriction on its discussions.
• The laws creating both NJ Transit itself and SCDRTAC give the committee a broad purpose, including not merely a single grant program, but any and all items affecting our constituents’ mobility.
• SCDRTAC is an advisory committee only, so our discussions cannot harm NJ Transit or any entity.
• This attack on SCDRTAC harms New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents: senior citizens and persons with disabilities, the latter a protected class under theADA.
SCDRTAC was founded to help senior citizens and disabled residents get better mobility here in New Jersey. We want to keep doing that, but we need you to tell others that we need your help. Please show up or phone a statement into the Board meeting on February 8. Please help us save your mobility!
Photo: MTA NYC Transit/Marc A. Hermann
We, the undersigned, call on Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, CEO Kevin Corbett, Senior Vice President Justin Davis, and the NJ Transit board of directors to prevent the removal free-speech rights to the SCDRTAC by removing the 2nd, 4th, and 6th sentences from the proposed new SCDRTAC regulation, or by modifying the 2nd sentence to replace the word “is” with “includes” or a synonym that does not include a limitation and removing the 4th and 6th sentences, and to then proceed with the rule-making process, including a 60-day comment period.
We recognize the need for a committee within NJ Transit to which senior citizens and disabled residents may bring their concerns regarding public transportation in New Jersey. As SCDRTAC has been that committee since its inception in 1984, we believe that it should continue in that role and ask that you do all you can to restore that capacity with full legal protection.
The 3 sentences to be removed or changed are the following:
2nd sentence: “The mission of the committee is to provide advice and comment on topics related to the Program.”
Recommendation: change Is to Includes.
4th sentence: “The mission of the committee is solely to provide advice and comment on the Program.”
Recommendation: Remove sentence.
6th sentence: “The committee shall not establish by-laws that exceed its mandate under these rules and the Act.”
Recommendation: Remove sentence,
The N.J. Senior Citizens and Disabled Residents Need Your Help Now! petition to NJ Transit CEO and Board of Directors was written by Sally Gellert and is in the category Local Government at GoPetition.