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responsible for paratransit. That requirement is inconsistent with the legal framework for existing paratransit operations in New York. In New York City, the city of New York is by State law, responsible for paratransit operations, not the transit authority.
With regard to key stations, both of our railroads have been retrofitting stations. We would urge the-given the age, scope and diversity of the stations in our system, we believe it is critical that the criteria used to determine key stations not follow a rigid formula, and we have a number of criteria that are included in our written testimony that we believe are important in determining what key stations are.
With regard to vehicles, there are certain provisions in the Senate bill and certain operational realities that we face which will make it difficult at bet to meet the deadlines for rail car accessibil. ity.
First of all, the Senate bill refers to a requirement of one accessible car per train. That requirement, especially if it is interpreted to include securing devices and accessible bathrooms, is far more difficult to achieve from an operational standpoint than it sounds. Cars are switched constantly and in order to ensure that one train has one accessible car, means far more than one.
Second, the retrofitting of cars for accessible bathrooms would be a substantial loss. They include loss of seating and on route already filled to capacity, an increase in standees or where operationally feasible, the purchase of additional cars to make up that loss.
Third, on both railroads many of those cars which cannot presently be entered by wheelchairs and would thus be most difficult and expensive to retrofit, are scheduled to be retired within 10 years. In some cases, in order to meet the deadline contained in the Senate bill, we would be compelled either to undertake the expense of retrofitting the cars only to use them for an additional year or two, or forego the remaining years of the car's projected service.
Mr. LUKEN. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Miller follows:) PREPARED STATEMENT OF HENRY MILLER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNI
TY RELATIONS FOR THE NEW YORK METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, my name is Henry Miller, and I am Director of Government and Community Relations for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA is a State Chartered Authority which oversees the operations of the largest public transportation system in the nation-a system which provides the vast majority of public transportation in the New York City metropolitan area. The MTA system includes, among other elements, the New York City Transit Authority, the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, an well as the Metro-North Commuter Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road, the two commuter railroads on which our attention is focused today.
Before I address specific aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I would like the Committee to know that the MTA has been working aggressively for years to achieve an accessible transportation system which meets the principles of the proposed Act. We have committed substantial financial resources to theme efforts. We support the goals of the Act, and we believe that, with the efforts we have made to date coupled with future activities, the MTA can meet the objectives of the Act.
As examples of our efforts, I would cite the following: One, at present, our bus fleet includes 2,898 wheel chair lifr equipped buses; this represents 80 percent of the bus fleet. By 1990, 89 percent of our bus fleet will be lift-equipped and this level will increase steadily until 100 percent is reached, assuming the availability of projected capital funds.
Two, 100 percent of our subway fleet can accommodate wheelchairs, meaning that the platform gap is small enough to permit wheelchairs to enter and a program is under way to make key stations in the subway system accessible. We do not have securing devices on subway cars.
Three, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad operates 772 commuter rail cars, and 93 percent of them can accommodate wheelchairs. The Long Island Rail Road operates 1,116 commuter rail cars, and 84 percent of them can accommodate wheel chairs. These figures do not reflect the availability of securing devices or accessible bathrooms on the cars.
Four, 46 of Metro-North's 117 commuter rail stations (39 percent) are accessible. Forty-seven of the Long Island Rail Road's 134 commuter rail stations (35 percent) are accessible.
Five, on the Long Island Rail Road, two stations serve well over 90 percent of the ridership: Jamaica Station, the key transfer station, will have new elevators for full access in 1990, and Pennsylvania Station, the main terminal, is currently undergoing a major reconstruction, including the introduction of elevators, targeted for completion in 1994. The reconstruction is being conducted in conjunction with Amtrak, the owner of the Station. At Grand Central Terminal, the main terminal for Metro North, virtually every platform is accessible due to the foresight of its designers who included numerous ramps and elevators during its construction in 1914.
While there is still much to do, we believe that our commitment to accessible main line public transportation has shown real and substantial progress.
Our support for the goals of this Act, however, does not mean that we do not have substantial concerns with the bill in its current form. Our concerns are primarily definitional or operational in nature. They focus on three areas: The paratransit requirements; the "key station" determinations, and the vehicle requirements
As the Committee requested; our concerns today will focus only on the impact of the Act on the commuter rail services that we provide on the Metro-North and Long Island railroads.
Our concern with the paratransit requirement contained in the Senate bill is primarily with the comparable level of service provision. While the Senate recognized that, as systems become increasingly accessible, the need for alternative service will diminish, we would like to see it made clear that paratransit should feed into key stations in main line accessible service rather than run parallel to it. We would also like to see a clearer definition of precisely who is “unable to use main line accessible service”. We would hope that the Congress could provide more detailed guidance in these areas.
In addition, the requirement that the transit authority in any given service area be responsible for paratransit service is inconsistent with the legal framework for existing paratransit operations in Now York. Current State law requires the City of New York to assume this responsibility in the New York City Transit Authority service area. Consistent with this policy, we believe that it would be moot effective if the responsibility for operating paratransit service continued to rest with units of State or local government, as established by State law or executive determination.
The Metro-North Commuter Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road operate in two distinct service areas, in Metro-North's case involving multi-State operations and in both cases involving travel distances in excess of two hours. Should the MTA be required to coordinate alternative service, it would divert our attention and resources from our primary responsibility: accessible main line service. So long as service is provided, there is no compelling federal interest in determining which unit of local government provides it.
Consistent with the MTA's overall commitment, both the Metro-North Commuter Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road have been retrofitting stations on their routes as part of their capital improvement programs. As indicated above, more than one-third of those stations are accessible. As the capital program continues, the number of accessible stations will continue to increase.
In determining which stations are “key” stations, both Metro-North and the Long island Rail Road consider the following criteria to be important: The volume of passengers using a station; the role of a station as a transfer point within the system; the role of a station as an intermodal transfer point; the extent to which a station serves a major activity center; the location of a station at the end of a rail line; the proximity of a station to other accessible stations, and the extent and feasibility of structural reconstruction that would be required.
Because of the age, scope, and diversity of the stations in our system, we believe that it is critical that the criteria used to determine key stations not follow a rigid formula. Each station should be judged on site-specific characteristics including the cost and feasibility of accessibility provisions.
We would also suggest that the Committee go a stop further. We believe that when a transportation authority develops a "key station" plan for meeting the re quirements of this legislation-a plan which would be developed in consultation with representatives of the disabled community-that plan should be approved by the governing entity of the authority with responsibility for the operation. The governing board should be required to hold a public hearing before any such approval.
There are certain provisions in the Senate bill and certain operational realities that we face which will make it difficult, at best, to meet the deadlines for tail car accessibility detailed in the bill. First, while the Senate bill refers to a requirement of one accessible car per trains that requirement (especially if it is interpreted to include securing devices and accessible bathrooms) is far more difficult to achieve from an operational standpoint than it sounds. Cars are switched constantly, and in order to ensure that every train has one fully accessible car, far more than a small portion of the fleet will have to be retrofitted. This could require almost all cars or multicar sets to be retrofitted.
Second, the retrofitting of cars to include accessible bathrooms would result in substantial hidden costs. These include the loss of seating and (on routes already filled to capacity) an increase in standees or, where operationally feasible, the likely purchase of additional care to make up that loss.
It should be noted that Metro-North currently operates coaches with accessible bathrooms on certain of its long-distance routes. The Long Island Rail Road is currently awaiting delivery of a prototype bilevel coach which is fully accessible, including bathrooms, for use in similar service.
Third, on both railroads, many of those cars which cannot presently be entered by wheelchairs, and would thus be most difficult and expensive to retrofit, are scheduled to be retired within ten years. In some cases, in order to meet the deadline contained in the Senate bill, we would be compelled either to undertake the expense of retrofitting the cars, if that is indeed possible, only to use them for an additional year or two or to forego the remaining years of the cars' projected service. In either case there is an added cost to the system.
For all of the above reasons, we believe that the legislation should provide flexibility and discretion in requiring existing vehicles to meet the standards of this Act and give particular consideration to the normal retirement schedule for cars.
The MTA in committed to creating a system that is safe, reliable, and available to all of the residents of our service area. While we have accomplished a great deal towards that end, there is much more to be done.
As you continue your deliberations on the legislation that is before you, we would hope that we could work with you to address the operational and definitional issues that we have raised today. We would also hope that you would consider the possibil. ity of increased federal funding to expedite our ongoing efforts to make our main line service accessible.
We feel compelled to note that complying with this legislation, as currently passed by the Senate, is made all the more difficult by the fact that federal funding for mass transit has been reduced by 50 percent since 1981. It is our hope that you will consider the capital costs, both direct and indirect, required by this legislation and will consider providing additional federal aid to assist with those costs.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you and I would be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
Mr. LUKEN. I think the alternatives are if you would each take about 4 minutes, and much of the material we have gone over, we can wind this up. Of course, we may have to have an hour or two lunch hour, and I don't think any of us want to come back. I don't think I do, nor do we have the time, so Mr. Fazekas, would you try to do that?
Mr. FAZEKAS. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF SCOTT FAZEKAS Mr. FAZEKAS. My name is Scott Fazekas. I am a member of the American Institute of Architects, whose views I represent, and I also have served as a building official for five different California jurisdictions. We appreciate the opportunity to appear. I will summarize my statement and request that the full text be printed in the record.
Mr. LUKEN. Okay. You may proceed.
Mr. FAZEKAS. The American Institute of Architects are no strangers to the challenges of disability. AIA public policy has long endorsed improved handicapped access. The AIA recognizes the human resource and the humanity of handicapped people, the ADA and congressional action to accomplish it, but we want this legislation to work, so its requirements must be clear, understandable, and achievable, or else it fails.
I feel a number of them would erect barriers to compliance by good people intending to do the right thing. This would also significantly increase the liability problems for architects. It is not sufficient to leave some of the ADA's policy specifications to the regulations and the people who will have to write them.
The AIA is concerned that title II's provisions for alterations of existing facilities in rail stations are confusing. Neither existing facilities nor new stations are defined in this legislative language, but separate requirements are apparently set forth for each. For example, the legislation should say that the alteration of exiting public transportation facilities-emphasis on "except for rails, which are addressed separately and effectively upon enactment as soon as capable. If this is intended by the committee, ADA requires removal of architectural barriers if the removal is readily achievable.
The provision fails to distinguish between the removal of a single barrier and removal of many barriers of the same type in a single facility. The legislation should provide that if a facility has many repetitive and similar barriers that singly aren't difficult or costly to remove, the removal should either be phased or take place when the facility, or portions thereof, is renovated.
The alteration section of title III suffered from the same problems as in title II. There is no way of telling when a readily achievable removal and architectural barrier becomes an alteration and when an alteration also becomes a major structural one. Our statement notes Pennsylvania law provides welcome guidance in this area.
We are concerned that the legislation makes no provision for historical properties as well. The AIA is also concerned that the new construction provisions fail to account adequately for projects under design prior to the enactment of the bill.
Architects must comply by the effective dates. but may be subjected to costly, often complicated, redesign without knowing precisely what they must do to ensure compliance. To handle the problem we propose retention of the effective dates for alterations in new construction, but application of the new projects that receive a design contract prior to the day of enactment. Are you looking for a summary? Am I at the 4 minutes?
Mr. LUKEN. You are about a minute away.
Mr. FAZEKAS. To assure smooth transition between the date of enactment and the promulgation of regulations, the law should provide architects with a safe harbor. We proposed adherence in the interim to an appropriate standards of the American National Standards Institute standard 117.1, be deemed sufficient for compliance. A safe harbor could also be the uniform Federal accessibility
standard, which is based on ANSI, but also contains a scoping ele ment.
This provides architects with a readily accepted handicap access standard that they can refer to with confidence, and reduce their concerns about liability.
The ADA's new construction provisions exempt handicapped access features that are structurally impractical to incorporate. Unreasonable hardship terminology has been effectively used in the California handicapped laws to accommodate legitimate economic concern. AIA would support this type of wording.
To summarize how the Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board can do the writing of regulations with only two and a half additional employees, and to provide the technical assistance, and to spread information about the bill, that is something that would be difficult to accomplish. The AIA is mainly interested in seeing the bill proceed and hopes that our suggestions are constructive and will help the bill to be the bill it deserves to be.
Mr. LUKEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Fazekas. We will continue to work with you and solicit your assistance perhaps to draft the amendments and so on.
Thank you very much.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF Scott FAZEKAS, AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS Mr. Chairman, my name is Scott Fazekas, AIA, a principal in the firm of BSI Consultants, Inc., of Santa Ana, California. I am a member of the Building Performance and Regulations Committee of the American Institute of Architects, whose views I offer today. I have also served as the building official for five separate California jurisdictions. The AIA is the professional association of 56,000 members which represents the nation's architects. This year, the AIA celebrates its 132nd anniversary. We commend you for holding these hearings and appreciate the opportunity to appear.
American architects are not strangers to the challenges of disability. The architectural profession seeks to serve the diverse needs of people through the buildings and other structures they occupy and use. The design of each of these places should be sensitive to the problems of people with special needs. Too many people live isolated and unfulfilled lives because too many places fail to accommodate their disabilities. As technology has advanced, as society has paid more attention to the rights of disabled citizens, and as law has increasingly specified standards to guarantee those rights, architects have become more successful in meeting the design challenges that disabilities pose.
Ending the isolation of handicapped people, and expanding their opportunities for fulfillment have been part of AIA public policy for a long time. Such a policy makes sense not only from a humanitarian standpoint but from an economic one as well. Our nation's population is aging, and between now and the end of the century we face the likelihood of serious labor shortages. The 43 million disabled Americans can swell the ranks of workers and enlarge the pool of consumers—both essential to economic prosperity-but only if we expand their access to workplaces and public accommodations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes the human resource and the humanity of handicapped citizens. It seeks the same opportunity for handi. capped people to secure a job, enter a workplace, use transportation, or visit a park that nondisabled people enjoy. The AIA supports the intent of the legislation and we support Congressional action to accomplish it. Because we do, we want this legislation to work. Its requirements must be clear, understandable, and achievable, or else it fails. Civil rights law trapped for years in costly litigation denies justice and opportunity for the very people it is designed to uplift.
Since the ALA bill would reach into so many aspects of national life, its effects are profound and complex. Unfortunately, the lack of clarity and the uncertainty of many important provisions would compound its complexity, would unfairly erect barriers to compliance by people who undertake to comply in good faith, and could