Title 49 USC § 5317 declares that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may make grants to encourage services and facility improvements to address the transportation needs of persons with disabilities that go beyond those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The program, also known as New Freedom, provides grants for capital and operations assistance.
New Freedom funding was repealed under MAP-21 and merged into the Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program.
With the passage of the ADA, it has become a civil rights violation to deny public transportation access to persons with disabilities. The New Freedom formula grant program provides additional tools to overcome existing barriers facing Americans with disabilities seeking integration into the work force and full participation in society. Lack of adequate transportation is a primary barrier to work for people with disabilities. The 2000 Census showed that only 60 percent of people between the ages of 16 and 64 with disabilities are employed. The New Freedom formula grant program expands the transportation mobility options available to persons with disabilities beyond the requirements of the ADA. The specific goal of the program is to:
FTA requires a grantee of New Freedom funds to coordinate the New Freedom program activities with other related program activities of other Federal agencies. A grantee will also be required to certify that projects selected were derived from a locally developed, Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan and that the plan was developed through a process that involved individuals of the public, private, and nonprofit transportation and human services providers.