People accompanied by guide or service dogs would not be prohibited by New Jersey Transit from boarding a public bus or train under a bill that's been approved by an Assembly panel.

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"These dogs provide an invaluable service to individuals who may otherwise not be able to get on their own.  Not allowing these dogs on a bus or a train essentially denies these individuals access to transportation services that are meant for public use," said Assemblyman John McKeon, a co-sponsor of the bill.

"These dogs are specifically trained to make routine tasks like riding the train possible for individuals with disabilities.  There is no reason why individuals who rely on these dogs for assistance should not be allowed to use a public service like other residents," said bill co-sponsor Assemblyman John Wisniewski,

The measure prohibits New Jersey Transit from denying any person the use of or entry to any vehicle used for public transportation services or any vehicle used for providing transportation to persons with disabilities because the person is accompanied by an appropriately controlled guide or service dog.  The person must keep the dog controlled and in their immediate custody.

NJ Transit would be required to designate an Access Link Customer Service Group to handle complaints and establish procedures on how complaints would be processed and resolved under the legislation.  It would also require the NJ Transit Director and ADA Services to report semi-annually to the NJ Transit board.

The bill was released by the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities on January 17.