Public transportation is more than a convenience; it is a lifeline for millions in America's bustling cities. But millions of other people cannot easily access public transportation. Vasav Desai, a visionary in public transportation accessibility, dedicated to providing freedom of mobility and equality for disabled individuals, recognises this gap and is striving to provide freedom of mobility and equality for disabled individuals in a country where 61 million adults live with a disability.
“Disability should not be a barrier to enjoying the freedom of independent travel. The inequality faced by disabled individuals in public transportation is a challenge few truly understand,” says Desai.
America's public transportation industry is a behemoth, impacting millions daily, with 9.9 billion trips in 2019 alone, according to the American Public Transportation Association. In a nation of over 335 million people, the industry is valued at $79 billion and employs over 430,000 who help foster connectivity, convenience, and economic vitality daily.
Desai leads the charge in implementing ADA-compliant transit vertical transportation systems in subway stations. These vertical transportation systems are not just functional additions; they represent an aid to independence for disabled individuals. The hydraulic vertical transportation systems allow them to navigate their environment independently and enhance safety, comfort, accessibility, and ease.
A 2004 study by the National Organization on Disability revealed that over half of respondents with disabilities identified inadequate transportation as a significant problem. The study suggested that those with severe physical disabilities experienced “more serious” problems using public transportation. This underscored the need for accessibility solutions.
The problem was accentuated at the height of the COVID pandemic, when using subways became more arduous for disabled individuals. Desai, however, oversaw the installation of a wheelchair and vision-impaired-friendly vertical transportation system in one of NYC's busiest stations, ensuring disabled individuals had equal access to vital facilities.
Beyond accessibility, transit systems face infrastructure issues, congestion, and funding gaps. The work of individuals like Vasav Desai is pivotal in addressing these challenges. Without his commitment to accessibility, countless disabled individuals would continue to face daunting obstacles when using public transportation, exacerbating inequality.
His partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority aims to make 70 stations across the country more inclusive by providing accessibility facilities. This strategic upgrade will improve the user experience for all riders, thereby fostering economic growth and social inclusion.
A Glimpse Into the Future
Technology plays a crucial role in bridging the accessibility gap, with Desai’s innovative solutions showcasing the transformative power of technology in ensuring accessibility.
Vasav Desai envisions a public transportation system that not only supports economic and social inclusion but also respects the rights of all individuals, whether disabled, able-bodied, or elderly. He's committed to creating a world where everyone receives equal consideration and opportunity.
“Everyone deserves equal treatment,” emphasises Desai. “If you can board a train without difficulty, individuals with impairments or disabilities should enjoy the same privilege.”
In the next five years, Vasav Desai envisions a more inclusive public transportation system. The MTA's plan to add accessibility facilities to 70 stations aligns perfectly with his vision, promising an improved user experience for all riders.
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(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 25, 2023 10:43 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).