Saturday, April 26, 2008

Train to commute will help the visually impaired

As an organization that is dedicated to the creation of a seamless, statewide, intermodal system of transportation in the state of Florida, the Florida Council of the Blind, Inc. has been monitoring the forward progress of the Central Florida Rail Project. Approval of the deal will greatly benefit members of our organization, as well as all visually impaired citizens of our state.

The goal of the Florida Council of the Blind is to better the lives of Florida's citizens who are blind and visually impaired through public education, legislative action and the distribution of statewide information and referral services. The implementation of the Central Florida Rail Project is an important first step in the creation of a seamless, statewide, intermodal system which contributes greatly to an enhanced quality of life for the blind.

I presume all Floridians would agree that people who do not drive because of fiscal constraints, disability, illness, age or choice, have the right to access the state's streets and highways. Supporting this project is both morally and fiscally responsible, as it will help to meet the transportation needs of citizens who do not drive.

The commuter rail project not only enhances Central Florida's economic viability and transit alternatives, but offers important benefits for the entire state. Additionally, the Central Florida project could provide future connections to other areas in the state, including connecting rail passenger services between Tampa and Orlando -- and beyond. This is especially important in light of the dwindling transportation options for people who are blind and visually impaired, as bus operators are reducing service in our state.

By providing a mode of transportation that is accessible to the blind community, we are in fact allowing these Floridians to pursue their vision of the American dream. While the ability to go to and from work, to doctor's appointments and recreation activities is taken for granted by many, the opportunity that the rail project will provide will not only improve our members' lives, but will enable them to participate fully as citizens of this great state.


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