Transportation Options through SDS
Transportation assistance is available through Student Disability Services (SDS) if you have a temporary or permanent mobility-affecting disability.
The accommodations available include:
- free bus passes
- the approval to purchase an accessible parking permit for campus
- the use of CULift (the Cornell paratransit service that provides pre-scheduled rides to on-campus classes, appointments, and extra-curricular activities).
Bus passes provide enough flexibility for getting around campus for many people. SDS can provide short- or long-term passes at no charge if you are approved for this accommodation. If the needed accommodation period is two months or less, monthly TCAT bus passes may be provided. If an OmniRide pass for TCAT is granted (generally when the accommodation period is longer than two months), SDS will arrange for OmniRide activation on your Cornell ID card for use on TCAT buses. These passes would allow you take TCAT buses anywhere on campus, as well as throughout the Ithaca area, seven days a week.
Please note: Cornell University provides all first year students (including transfer students) a free bus pass their first year on campus.
If you have a car, accessible parking may be an appropriate option.
If you are approved for accessible parking, SDS will provide you a letter to take to Commuter & Parking Services at 116 Maple Avenue to purchase an accessible permit for campus. Campus parking passes can only be purchased for a vehicle that belongs to you or an immediate family member.
Please note that all students must pay for a parking permit, including an Accessible Parking permit (AP Permit). AP permits are sold at an equivalent cost to other central campus accessible parking permits. Additional information on accessible parking on the Cornell campus can be found at the Commuter & Parking Services website.
SDS cannot approve accessible parking for more than two months unless you have a municipality-issued accessible parking hangtag or license plate.
The CULift is an on-campus, pre-arranged transportation service for students with mobility disabilities, whether permanent or temporary. The CULift is provided free of cost. The CULift runs on campus, to nearby housing, and to peripheral parking lots. View the CULift Service Area Map.
CULift is a service provided by Cornell to supplement the paratransit resources available in the county through TCAT. The CULift runs on and near campus, and runs limited hours. The CULift may not meet all your needs. If you need to travel outside of the CULift’s service area, or outside of its operating hours, you should consider signing up for paratransit services through TCAT.
It operates from 7:45am to 10:00pm, Monday through Friday during the fall and spring semesters (and on a more limited basis during summer and winter). No on-call service is available. Due to the large volume of use, all ride requests must be made by 10:00am the business day before the ride.
If approved for use of the CULift, service will begin 1-2 business days after your registration with SDS.
For more information: Review the CULift Guidelines. To use the service, you must agree to abide by those guidelines. Failure to comply with those guidelines may jeopardize your access to it.
Other Transportation Resources
TCAT is the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit system that serves Ithaca and Tompkins County. Buses can kneel to make it easier to board and deboard. They are also wheelchair accessible. Information and schedules can be found at: tcatbus.com.
TCAT ADA Paratransit
If you live off campus or need to travel to off-campus locations (e.g., doctor or physical therapy) and are prevented from using fixed-route TCAT buses because of a disability, you can sign up for TCAT's ADA Paratransit service.
TCAT's ADA Paratransit service is operated by Gadabout, and is a curb-to-curb, demand-responsive public transportation service. Approval and scheduling of rides is coordinated through TCAT. Call the ADA Paratransit coordinator at TCAT (607-277-9388, extension 450). Fees charged depend upon points of travel. More information is available on the TCAT ADA website.
Taxi and Ride Hail Services
Ithaca is also served by ride hail services (Lyft, Uber).
FISH (Friends in Service Helping) is a Tompkins County non-profit providing free local medical and health care transport for county residents in need of assistance.
State/Municipal Accessible Parking Permit Information
SDS cannot approve accessible campus parking permits for more than two months unless you have obtained a municipality-issued accessible parking hangtag or license plate from NY or another state. These state or municipal permits are not valid on the Cornell Campus without an additional Cornell parking permit.
If you are residing in NY while attending Cornell, you are eligible to apply for a NY accessible parking permit. To do so, you must complete Part I of the permit application and have the appropriate doctor either complete Part II (the medical certification), or provide you with a note detailing the nature of your disability, and whether it is a temporary or permanent disability. If your disability is temporary, the doctor should also state how long you will need the permit. You must submit the completed permit application (or note from doctor) to the NY municipality in which you live, and not to Cornell or to the DMV.
- Instructions and Application for a Parking Permit or License Plates, for People with Disabilities (pdf)
- Information and Application for Metered Parking Waiver for Persons with Disabilities (pdf)
To obtain from the City of Ithaca:
If you live in the City of Ithaca (not the Town of Ithaca), the City Clerk's Office, located at 108 East Green Street, issues New York State Parking Permits for People with Disabilities to City of Ithaca residents.
If you reside outside the City of Ithaca (Town of Ithaca, Dryden, etc.), will need to follow their process to obtain a license plate or hang tag. Information will be available on their website about where to go.
If you are unsure which jurisdiction you live in, contact one of the Town or City Clerks' offices to verify.