The nation's transportation system must be made more accessible to the handicapped, according to the Department of Transportation, which has just proposed a phase-in program to accomplish that goal.

The three-year plan proposed by DOT is designed to "ensure that handicapped persons are not discriminated against in transportation programs receiving DOT financial aid.

DOT is soliciting public comment on its proposal, and in some cases will pay costs incurred by interested parties who come to Washington to testify on the plan.

Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams, in filing a proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register yesterday, called the regulations "a response to the needs of the estimated 13 million handicapped persons in the United States." He said the benefits to those persons "would include increased mobility, independence and job opporturities."

Some of the proposed regulations include:

Making all new fixed transportation facilities, including airports, rail terminals, mass transit stations and highway rest areas, accessible to handicapped.

Allowing existing transportation facilities three years to become accessible, except for intercity rail terminals (five years to comply) and mass transit system stations (longer periods, variable.)

Rail systems must have at least one accessible car for the handicapped within three years for intercity train and five years for commuter and rapid rail systems.

Transportation industry employers receiving DOT aid would be required to make "reasonable accommodation" to the needs of their handicapped employees.

The overall industry-wide plan is expected to cost $1.7 billion in 1977 dollars over several years.

Hearings on the proposal will be from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 26 in Room 2230 at the Department of Transportation.

DOT has limited amount of money to provide travel funds for persons who wise to testify at the hearings. Applications for travel assistance should be mailed by June 26 to the Office of Environment and Safety, Room 9422, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 7th St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. Include the amount of money needed, and the reason for the request.