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Mr. LUKEN. It would apply to light rail, right?
Mr. SHANE. Again, we saw fixed-route bus systems being the principal target, but light rail and fixed-route bus systems essentially serve the same market, so I think light rail would be the exception. That would be one rail system for which the entire transit would be a required supplement.
Mr. LUKEN. Could you give us further written reports on that? Mr. SHANE. We will be happy to, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LUKEN. It would seem like the trolley or the light rail might somewhere conceivably fall in between, and I am not sure what would be the intention. Would it be your thought at this time, or do you want to reserve judgment of whether the bill applies to trolleys or light rail? Subways?
Mr. SHANE. I think it might be better if we took some time and gave you a thoughtful answer for the record.
[The following material was supplied:]
Section 203(c) of the Senate-passed version of the "Americans With Disabilities Act" provides requirements regarding paratransit service for the disabled as a supplement to a fixed route public transportation system. An issue has been raised as to whether these paratransit requirements apply only when a public transportation system provides fixed route bus service, or whether the requirements apply in connection with the provision of rail service by a public transportation system. Since the term "fixed route" is not defined in the Act, the bill itself does not provide specific guidance on this issue. The bill's legislative history, however, is quite clear. The Senate Report, at page 47, specifically defines the term "fixed route" to mean “... a bus system that operates on a continuing and regular basis on a fixed pattern and schedule.”
Reading the language of the bill and its legislative history together, it is thus evident that the intent of the Senate-passed bill is to impose the paratransit requirements under section 203(c) only on those public transportation systems operating fixed route bus service. The requirements of the Senate-passed bill accordingly do not apply in connection with the provision by a public transportation system of rail service, whether commuter, light, or heavy rail.
A question also has been raised regarding which entity is responsible for providing the paratransit service, a transit authority or some other governmental unit. It is clear under the law that the public transportation system, if it operates a fixed route bus system, is responsible for ensuring that paratransit service is provided. In doing this, however, the public transportation system can take into account paratransit services made available by other entities and need not duplicate those services already being provided.
Mr. LUKEN. Not just subways, subways would be one in big cities, but in others there are light rail, and we are even developing light rail more in some areas.
Mr. SHANE. Yes. Usually, you have parallel systems in communities that have either subways or light rail systems. There is also a surface bus system as well. As to the extent they would enjoy the bus system, they would have fixed-route bus system within the meaning of the Senate report language, and therefore, you would have a paratransit facility available to the disabled community.
Mr. LUKEN. We could assume that, but maybe that wouldn't be a fair assumption to make.
Mr. SHANE. That is why I would like to go back.
Mr. LUKEN. Under the bill, does the obligation fall upon the local governmental unit or upon the system?
Mr. SHANE. Mr. Cline tells me it is the transit authority, that is the object of the legislation.
Mr. LUKEN. There could be some vagueness there? There are transit authorities and transit authorities. All shapes and sizes.
Mr. SHANE. Well, my understanding is-
Mr. LUKEN. Put that discussion of that in your written submission.
Mr. SHANE. Yes, sir.
Mr. LUKEN. While we are at definitions, what is a "vehicle" as used in this bill?
Mr. SHANE. So glad you asked, Mr. Chairman. We think that the vehicle within the meaning of the act is a passenger vehicle, so that we don't think, for example, that for purposes of accessibility in the transportation provisions of the legislation, a locomotive would be a vehicle.
There is a locomotive issue; the locomotive, it seems to us, is a workplace issue, but for purposes of providing transportation, the purposes of the obligation to provide accessible transportation, we don't think the locomotive was meant to be included in the legislation.
Mr. LUKEN. I will settle for that.
Any further questions? Thank you very much. We will be interested in your further submission. We appreciate your willingness to testify and help us out in this matter.
Next, if nobody objects, we would like to give Mr. Graham Clayton an opportunity to testify-even though he was listed as the third panel. Those on the second panel will probably recognize it is a more orderly and better presentation to get Mr. Claytor and Amtrak's views on the record first. It would probably help the second panel to know what those are in advance of their testimony.
Mr. Claytor, it is always nice to see you.
AL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, ACCOMPANIED BY
Mr. LUKEN. We are pleased with the House approval of the Amtrak reauthorization bill.
Mr. CLAYTOR. Yes, sir, it is always a pleasure to appear before this committee, Mr. Chairman. I have with me David Carol of our government operations-public affairs department, who is better acquainted with the details of this statute than I am.
Mr. LUKEN. That remains to be seen.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask that my prepared statement be included in the record, and I will try to be as brief as I can and summarize the important points.
Quite apart from any statutory or regulatory requirements, Amtrak as a matter of policy, has been and is committed to avoid ing discrimination against the handicapped to the maximum extent we can. We welcome handicapped and elderly passengers and make every reasonable effort not only to take care if them, but to make their trip as comfortable as possible.
We have special reduced fares for handicapped or disabled passengers. We have a 7-day-per-week special services bureau to help passengers who need help. Last year, some 120,000 disabled passengers used these services, and tens of thousands of others have traveled on Amtrak without assistance.
Mr. Chairman, practically all Amtrak trains now have equipment that meets the bill's accessibility requirements, including sleeping accommodations on all overnight trains. In other words, we already meet the requirement that all of our trains must have at least one handicapped-equipped car.
So, we are in pretty good shape with respect to compliance so far as equipment is concerned. Both the Senate and House bills, however, as has been pointed out already, contain the requirement that all new cars purchased must be handicapped-equipped.
Now, we have no problem with this with our superliners and sleeping cars since that is already our policy, anyway. But it is neither necessary nor feasible for this rule to be applied to all coaches, so long as there are handicapped-accessible coach accommodations on every train, a standard we will have meet and will continue to meet.
I want to make it very clear that the capital costs of building handicapped-accessible toilet and seating facilities into each lowlevel car, and that is single-level car, the kind we make in the East, is quite high. But that is not the big point.
The big point is that when we do that in a relatively small car that seats only 60 to 80 people anyway, we reduce the capacity of that car by a total of five seats. We have to point out we put in a special handicapped toilet and seating accommodation.
This reduces the revenue that we have to count on to meet our continuing objective of ever decreasing our need for subsidy and undermines the economics that justifies the cost purchase.
We feel that we can meet all requirements, over-meet all requirements if 20 percent of the new coaches that we purchase are handicapped-accessible. That actually is our current plan and policy subject to statutory requirement that this statute would have.
So, we have suggested an amendment which is attached to my prepared statement, attachment No. 1, that would allow us to purchase new coaches only that are—20 percent of which are handicapped-accessible. The other 80 percent are not. This will givemore than give us enough cars so that we can always meet the requirement of having one or more handicapped-accessible coaches on every train, a standard we already meet.
I think that is very important from the standpoint of Amtrak's financial future. We are committed to continuing to reduce the need for subsidy every year. This year, we are making about 72 percent of our total-covering about 72 percent of our total cost of our revenues. We hope to make 75 percent next year, and we have an objective that by the end of the century, we will make it 100 percent.
But we can only do that if we have capital funds that will enable us to increase our capacity and cut our expenses, as well as increase our revenues. This type of restriction would have a serious adverse effect on that. I think we ought to get rid of it. I think it is not necessary, and we can meet all the standards without it.
So, we ask that amendment. As Mr. Shane has pointed out, our principal problem is in the station area. We have about 500 stations scattered around the country, 499 I think is the exact figure today, and serve more communities than all the major airlines put together.
Most of these, of course, are not owned by Amtrak, but are owned by the fright railroads or by local communities. We have surveyed these and found that some 88 of the 499 stations used are now essentially in compliance with the bill. That leaves over 400 that will require modification or even total reconstruction.
Of course, these include all categories, fully staffed stations which are the largest stations, stations manned only by a caretaker, some of those with restrooms and some without restrooms, and about 117 totally unstaffed facilities that consist of shelters and platforms.
Now, there has been a discussion about what do you do about these very small, unmanned stations that probably have a handful of passengers using them every day? What would have to be done there in most cases, the platform is accessible, but you have to get the passenger from the platform into the car. These are low-level platforms and, of course, to take a wheelchair into the car, you have to lift it about four feet.
Now, we have manual wheelchair lifts that cost about $3,500 a piece that we are using, and under this bill, we would have to have those at every low-level station that we have. We would be prepared to do this if we get the necessary funding.
The problem of whether or not it really makes sense to have that kind of expense at an unmanned station with practically nothing but a platform is a serious question. One of the difficulties is you not only have to buy the lift, you have got to build housing to house the lift, because the lift has to stay there. It would have to be operated by the conductor from the train, who would get off and operate the lift for a handicapped passenger.
Then he would have to put it back in the little house that is built for it and locked up. That will cost some thousands of dollars on every one of these installations. I agree that there is a serious question in my mind whether a station that is as lightly used as that really should be required to have that kind of expense, but I leave that to the committee.
We think not. We think in truth and in fact, if it were our money that has to be spent on it, we would discontinue the service, we would discontinue the station, looking at all the various circumstances. But the chances are that rather than spend $5,000 to $10,000 on providing a lift there that may never be used, we would just discontinue the station, which we have the right to do in most cases.
Now, we have looked at the roughly 400 stations that are not in compliance, and we think it would cost today in current dollars about $34 million to make them, to meet the requirements of the statute.
It would be totally impossible for Amtrak to do this in the 3 years allowed by the House bill, but if provided with the required capital, we could on a year-to-year basis manage to do this and would provide full accessibility to all the stations in the 20 years provided in the Senate bill.
The problem is that if you extend this over that period of time, the $34 million figure starts to escalate. We figure on a 4-percentassuming a 4-percent annual escalation, the total cost of this over the 20-year period would be about $52 million.
Now, we cannot possibly survive, and I don't think we will survive, unless we continue to reduce our need for subsidy. We can't possibly continue to do that unless we get capital funds for our own needs, expansion of equipment, repair and improvement of shops and the like, which we are getting this year for the first time in about 8 years in substantial amount.
We have go to have that. Now, we can't add to that, just take out of that, this $34 to $52 million for these stations. So, what we are asking is that this bill ought to include an authorization for $52 million available over the 20-year period as appropriated to give Amtrak separate appropriations to take care of these problems.
We could then each year-what we would propose to do would be to submit to the committees our request for operating funds, for Amtrak capital and for special capital to be used to improve our stations.
We would then use that money exclusively to improve the stations on a year-to-year basis. I think that would make sense. It would enable us to keep going. What I am afraid of is that President Reagan was unable to put us out of business after 5 years of trying, but if we started to have to take all this money out of our earnings and appropriations, we could get put out of business by this.
I don't want to take any chance on doing that. I think we are doing well. We have a great future. We have a plan to get self-sufficient in 10 years. But we have got to have Federal money to take care of these extra expenses on all these stations, which so many of you have pointed out, most of them are not owned by us.
Unless the community or a special appropriation is done, I don't think we will make it. Now, I have there one other amendment that I have suggested that is a clarification. The statute doesn't make clear that Amtrak, which is a privately incorporated company with Federal assistance, is not treated in this statute as a public transportation system. It should be.
The Senate bill, the Senate report said that that was what was intended. But as the statute is drawn in both the House and the Senate, it refers only to State agencies and State operation companies. I ask that just to make this clear that Amtrak be included, the National Railroad Corporation be included with the list of State agencies and instrumentalities so there can't be any question that we come under the section that deals with public transportation and not private transportation.
I think that is—we have an amendment on that that is included here, too. So, I have proposed then three amendments. One is to permit us to acquire 20 percent of our coaches that are handicapped-equipped and 80 percent that are not. The second one is an appropriation-not an appropriation, an authorization, over the 20year period of the estimated $52 million we would require to do the work on all these stations.