As Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg is proving his dedication to advocacy for accessibility for people with disabilities.
An adage tells us that the journey is the destination, but Buttigieg is recognizing how often the obstacles along the way prevent many Americans from reaching even the most mundane destinations — and he’s working to help fix that.
Accessibility has been one of Buttigieg’s longstanding areas of advocacy and was part of his platform when he ran for President in 2020.
Earlier this month, he announced the first round of grants to make rail and subway stations more accessible, including adding elevators and ramps and updating audio/visual interfaces for accessibility.
Cutting people out of public life because transportation isn’t accessible to people in wheelchairs or other mobility aids, for instance, not only makes it difficult for those individuals to seek medical care, higher education, and pursue interests, but also to access employment and otherwise contribute to a functional society.
Under Buttigieg, the Department of Transportation has implemented its first-ever Bill of Rights for Passengers with Disabilities and is working to make public transportation more accessible and more available.
Buttigieg told the American Planning Association:
“There are gaps for everybody in our transportation system, but most people can more or less assume that there’s at least one way to get to where they need to go. That’s not always true for Americans with disabilities — and that’s particularly something we see for wheelchair users.”
The All Stations Accessibility Program grants approved for FY22-23 amount to $686 million, and improves public transportation systems in 9 states.
In addition to this project, Buttigieg has been passionate about making air travel accessible not only for passengers with disabilities, but for families, calling on airlines to seat minor children with their parents without imposing additional charges to do so, and bringing together wheelchair manufacturers, airport contractors, and organizations representing veterans and people with disabilities to work out solutions.
The DOT is also working to improve response to consumer complaints, and enforce transparency in ticket fees.
You can see him discussing his work to make air travel more accessible below.