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Mr. MINETA. The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Clement.
Mr. CLEMENT. Mr. Chairman, I would just request unanimous consent that my opening statement be admitted into the record.
Mr. MINETA. Without objection; so ordered.
[Mr. Clement's prepared statement follows:) STATEMENT OF HON. BOB CLEMENT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM TENNESSEE
Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening today's hearing on the Americans With Disabilities Act. I am proud to join you and 21 of our Public Works Committee colleagues as a cosponsor of this important measure.
I am proud to join you in supporting legislation which will end discrimination against disabled individuals. Twenty-five years after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is time to make all citizens of the United States full and participating members of our society.
Despite some reluctance, I believe that the business community will share our view that disabled Americans are as talented and skilled as the non-disabled and that they are excellent and hard-working employees. Businesses will also share our view that the disabled are consumers with desires, wants, and appetites as voracious as the non-disabled. All they need is access, all they deserve is equality.
While our goals are lofty, crafting the most appropriate legislative solution is problematic. As in all areas guaranteeing the civil rights of one group of citizens, we are often asked to strike a legislative balance. And such a balance is a particularly delicate issue in the areas of public and private transportation.
As a former public service commissioner, I understand the cost-sensitive basis on which transit service decisions are made. And while my service was prior to Congress' deregulation of much of the transportation industry, the cost-sensitive nature of these decisions has not changed, only the flexibility with which industry can implement them without State or Federal intrusion.
Like you, Mr Chairman, and the other members of the subcommittee, I look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses and getting a clear understanding of the problems which confront the disabled community and an understanding of the issues which confront providers of transit.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MINETA. Mr. Parker, Mr. Payne, any other members seek recognition?
[No response.] (Mr. Payne's prepared statement follows:] STATEMENT OF Hon. LEWIS F. PAYNE, JR., A REPRESENTATTVE IN CONGRESS FROM
VIRGINIA Mr. Chairman, I applaud your leadership in calling for hearings on Americans with Disabilities legislation.
In addition to serving on this Committee, I also have the pleasure of sitting on the Committee on Veterans Affairs. In that capacity, I am acutely aware of the difficulties disabled individuals must cope with in order to function in our society. I appreciate this Committee's interest in this matter, and I welcome this opportunity to explore possible avenues of improving transportation for this nation's disabled.
I also thank all of the witnesses who are joining us today, and I look forward to hearing your views on the legislation before this Committee.
(Mr. Costello's prepared statement follows:] STATEMENT OF HON. JERRY COSTELLO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM ILLINOIS
Mr. Chairman, as a cosponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I look forward to today's hearing and how it will affect the transportation of disabled individuals across the nation.
This bill is an attempt to include the members of the disabled community into everyday life by making a variety of public facilities convenient to the disabled. In particular, it is my interest to see what direct impact this will have on transit authorities and transportation companies in Illinois and throughout the country.
For years, a lack of good transportation has been a constant complaint from representatives of the disabled community. The Americans with Disabilities Act takes large steps toward making very transportation vehicle in the country accessible to the disabled, so that they can share the convenience of public transportation that is shared by many other non-disabled individuals.
Through greater access to transportation, the disabled can have the same access to their workplace that is now enjoyed by others. That will enable many disabled workers to put their skills to work for America's businesses and other employers.
Mr. MINETA. At this time, I would like to call together our first panel: Mr. Roland Mross, Deputy Administrator, Urban Mass Transportation Administration, Department of Transportation, accompanied by John Cline, the Associate Administrator for Budget and Policy of UMTA as well as Don Trilling, the Deputy Director of the Office of Transportation Regulatory Affairs of the Department of Transportation.
If you would please come forward to the table.
TESTIMONY OF ROLAND MROSS, DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR,
URBAN MASS TRANSPORTATION ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN CLINE, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR BUDGET AND POLICY, URBAN MASS TRANSPORTATION ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, AND BY DON TRILLING, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF TRANSPORTATION REGULATORY AF. FAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Mr. MINETA. Mr. Mross, your full statement will be made a part of the record. So you may go ahead and proceed in your own fashion, sir.
Mr. Mross. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. My name is Roland J. Mross. I am the Deputy Administrator of the Urban Mass Transportation of the U.S. Department of Transportation. I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of Transportation on the Americans with Disabilities Act which the Senate passed on September 7, 1989. As I am sure you know, the Administration strongly supports enactment of Federal legislation extending civil rights to Americans with disabilities.
Appearing with me today to discuss this bill are John Cline, the Associate Administrator for Budget and Policy in the Urban Mass Transportation and Mr. Donald Trilling, Director, Office of Transportation Regulatory Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs.
Despite the best efforts of all levels of government and the private sector, and the tireless efforts of concerned citizens and advocates everywhere, many persons with disabilities in this nation still lead lives in a state of isolation and dependence.
Sixteen years have gone by since the Rehabilitation Act was passed. In that time the doors of educational opportunity have been opened to persons with disabilities. Nevertheless, persons with disabilities are still, too often, shut out of the economic and social mainstream of American life. The Americans With Disabilities Act would directly address this problem.
In brief, the purpose of the Act is to provide a clear national mandate to end discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and to bring persons with disabilities into the economic and social mainstream of American life, to provide enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities and to insure that the Federal government plays a central role in enforcing these standards on behalf of individuals with disabilities.
Let me, now, briefly summarize for you some of the key provisions in the Americans With Disabilities Act as passed by the Senate and which affect transportation. Under that bill, public entities must purchase or lease accessible vehicles-bus, (NAIL) and other fixed-route vehicles-in any solicitation made thirty days after the enactment of the Act.
The Department of Transportation may temporarily relieve a public entity from purchasing a lift equipped bus if a lift is unavailable and the public entity has made a good-faith effort to locate a lift equipped bus.
A public entity providing fixed-route transit service must provide a comparable level of paratransit service to handicapped individuals who cannot use the fixed-route service. The Department would issue service criteria in this regard. If providing such service presents an undue financial burden, the Department may allow the public entity to limit its service pursuant to a flexible numerical formula.
A public entity only providing demand-responsive service must buy or lease accessible vehicles unless it can demonstrate that its system provides a level of service to disabled people equivalent to that provided the general public. New facilities built by a public entity must be accessible. Existing facilities with major alterations will, to the maximum extent feasible, be made accessible in the altered areas.
Regarding rail systems, at least one car per train must be accessible as soon as practical, but in no less than five years. Existing key rail stations must be made accessible within three years, except that the Department may extend that time to twenty years for extraordinarily expensive structural changes necessary to achieve accessibility.
The proposal that public transit agencies purchase only liftequipped buses is necessary to accomplish the goal of the legislation to provide civil rights to individuals with disabilities; that is, to mainstream them into daily American life. For disabled people who lead, or who want to lead, independent lives and to be integrated into their communities, the availability of lift equipped buses provides the broadest and most immediate benefits.
Such accessibility can be accomplished relatively easily since more than 35 percent of public transit buses already are liftequipped. We estimate that it would take ten to twelve years for all public transportation buses to be lift equipped. Disabled persons want to use lift equipped vehicles once they become widely available. This demand should lower costs and advance the technology and the reliability of the lifts. Regarding current costs, adding lifts to buses costs approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per bus and adds annual maintenance costs, per bus, of approximately $2,000.
The ADA legislation would also require that paratransit buses be made available to those individuals who cannot use accessible, fixed-route transit. The Senate-passed legislation recognizes, however, that in some cases the provision of unlimited paratransit service may be an undue financial burden on the transit provider. The Senate passed bill thus would allow the use of a flexible numerical
formula that incorporates appropriate local characteristics such as population, interim degree of accessible bus service, and residential patterns to determine when provision of paratransit reaches a level of undue financial burden and limits the provider's required paratransit to that level.
If the bill is enacted, the Department would look forward to working with the disabled community, and providers of transit services, through the regulatory process to establish a workable formula in this regard. It is important to note, moreover, that if another entity in the area provides paratransit services that meet the requirements of the ADA, the local transit authority would not be required to duplicate that service.
In those urban areas where rail transit is available, it is just as important to provide access for the disabled to that system as it is to provide access to the fixed-route bus system. The ADA requires that, within five years, all rail systems have one car per train that is accessible to the disabled. New construction of transit facilities would be made accessible. The bill also provides for retrofitting of existing key stations in light-rapid and commuter rail systems.
The transit agencies and members of the disabled community would work together to plan the strategy for key station accessibility. The pattern of New York and Philadelphia, which already have worked out agreements to retrofit key stations, would serve as an excellent model in this regard for other cities. The ADA, as passed by the Senate, would require no incremental effort by the cities of New York and Philadelphia.
Entities that operate only demand-responsive systems for the general public are, for the most part, small rural communities. Therefore, it is appropriate that in those areas a new vehicle need not be lift-equipped if the entity can demonstrate that its system, when viewed in its entirety, provides a level of service to individ uals with disabilities equivalent to the level of service provided to the general public.
The ADA also extends to transportation provided by private entities. Hotel and airport shuttle services and around-the-mall parking lot vans, when they offer demand-responsive services, would be required to provide adequate levels of service to individuals with disabilities and need not equip all vehicles with lifts.
Private intercity bus companies, clearly, provide an important transportation service. They are a transportation safety net providing service to regions not otherwise serviced by other modes of transportation and to people who do not generally have other transportation options available to them. Therefore, the Senate passed legislation would require these operations to be made accessible within seven years for small operators and six years for all others.
The Department must issue regulations within a year of enactment to implement these requirements. This legislation also calls for a three-year study of how best to achieve this accessibility for intercity carriers. The rule promulgated by the Secretary will, thus, be available to serve as a baseline against which other approaches can be compared.
This study required by the bill should indicate cost-effective methods for making over-the-road buses accessible within the statutory time period.
Finally, the Department supports provisions adopted in the Senate
passed bill that appropriately distinguish the obligations of employers with respect to active alcoholics and drug abusers, on the one hand, and those who are no longer using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol, on the other hand. Moreover, these provisions would allow an employer to prohibit the use of illegal drugs by an employee and prohibit the use of alcohol at the work place.
Mr. Chairman, twenty-five years ago Congress and the President were finalizing enactment of the Civil. Rights Act of 1964, one of the most comprehensive civil rights legislation ever passed. We now have the chance to extend the nation's civil-rights guarantees to the disabled community. The Department and the Administration are pleased to support this landmark legislation.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks and we would be pleased to respond to any questions that you might have.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Mross. Either Mr. Cline or Mr. Trilling, do you have statements to submit for the record or any comments?
If not, thank you very much, Mr. Mross, for your very fine statement. Let me ask, first of all, what is the Department's current policy as it relates to accessibility?
Mr. CLINE. Currently, the Department is abiding by the regulations that were issued under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. As you may be aware, there was a court decision of the Third Circuit which may have an impact upon that. But we are still operating under the original 504 Regulations.
Mr. MINETA. Plus any requirements from the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. Are there any provisions in that Act that deal, also, with accessibility or had it generally been Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act?
Mr. CLINE. Those requirements are reflected in the regulations, also.
Mr. MINETA. The recent court decision in the Third Circuit did affect the Department's accessibility regulations, did they not?
Mr. CLINE. Yes.
Mr. MINETA. Could you, briefly, describe what that impact is from that Third Circuit's decision?
Mr. CLINE. My recollection of the initial decision was that the 3 percent cost cap that was used for paratransit was overruled by the court, as was the local option, which refers to the choice of either lifts on buses or paratransit.
Upon the en bank review by the full court, however, the local option was restored but regarding the 3 percent cap, the court maintained the position that that was to be changed.
Mr. MINETA. Do I assume that, regardless of whether the Third Circuit Court had ruled this way or not, as it relates to the 3 percent accessibility or as to whether or not agencies were meeting their obligation to provide accessibility, that because of the Third Circuit Court decision, the Department would have revisited this whole issue regardless of this ADA bill or not?