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Mr. CLINE. Assuming that we receive the order from the court as we anticipate we will, we would have begun to engage in a regulatory process based upon that order.
Mr. MINETA. In Mr. Mross' statement, the figure of 35 percent of the national fleet is, currently, lift-equipped. That is mentioned, but what percentage of buses bought last year, if we have that figure, Mr. Mross, were lift-equipped? First of all, how many buses were purchased last year and, of those that were purchased last year, how many were lift equipped?
Mr. CLINE. There has been a trend over the last few years that approximately 3,000 to 3,700 buses are purchased each year using UMTA Federal assistance. Of those buses that were purchased last year, we do not have a figure as to how many were lift equipped, but I would venture to say that it was substantially higher than previous years.
Mr. MINETA. Higher than that 35 percent that you say are equipped right now?
Mr. CLINE. Yes. It is hard to commit a specific number, but because so many major transit systems have elected to purchase with lift-equipped buses there has been a higher percentage. Exactly what that percentage would be, I really can't say. .
Mr. MINETA. The cost of this lift equipment is, as I understand it, roughly $10,000 to $15,000 per lift. What is the average cost of a transit bus?
Mr. MROSS. $155,000.
Mr. MINETA. As I understand it, we are now in the fourth or fifth generation of lift technology in this country. From your experience within UMTA, what would you say is the reliability of these lift mechanisms?
Mr. CLINE. We do not have specific statistics that indicate the failure rates of lifts. From my personal experience with several transit systems that are lift equipped, though, there was a higher than acceptable rate of failures on the lifts. Many of those were due to poor maintenance at times or just pure mechanical failures-pinched hydraulic hoses, computer command function failures, and the like.
But I would say that it was higher than acceptable.
Mr. MINETA. Would you say that, with each generation of improvement of lift technology, at least to some degree, that there have been improvements in the reliability of the lifts, even though it may be a little higher than what you would like to see?
Mr. CLINE. Yes. I think that there have been some improve ments. They have not been as quick as, I think, the industry would like to have seen, but compared to some of the original lifts that were coming out ten or fifteen years ago, there has been a marked improvement.
Mr. MROSS. If I might, Mr. Chairman, our expectation also is that with the wider utilization of lift equipment, the technology ought to improve and reliability ought to improve, as well as the cost go down.
Mr. MINETA. We have had estimates, I guess, from articles and other testimony indicating that the cost of annual lift maintenance is roughly $2,000. In fact, I think that is what is included in your testimony. At the same time, we have had other estimates given to
us that range anywhere from a third to three times the figures that you have indicated.
I am wondering what do you think accounts for this very wide range of costs attributable to the maintenance of that lift equipment?
Mr. CLINE. Each transit system, I think, has taken a different approach towards maintenance on lifts in recent years; some transit systems have claimed very high maintenance costs. Specifically, what that is due to, I am not sure. I have suspicions that, possibly, the proper level of maintenance was not completed on those lifts. The lifts must be cycled on a regular basis even if there is no malfunction in the lift. Ongoing preventive maintenance can be conducted on them.
I would venture to say that different transit systems have taken a different approach to it and that has resulted in varying degrees of expenses. We, too, have heard of the various expenses.
Mr. MINETA. Would you have any idea how many of those, let's say, roughly about 430-some transit systems across the country that we have—what percentage of them are currently providing some kind of paratransit services-maybe not percentages of the numbers, but maybe if you have some absolute numbers
of all the transit agencies? Do you have any idea what that might be?
Mr. Mross. Three quarters, we believe—75 percent or more.
Mr. MINETA. How will the Department implement this provision that is in the ADA that refers to the flexible formula provisions surrounding undue financial burden as indicated, or as contained, in the Senate passed bill? Any idea as to how UMTA would look at that in the implementation of some kind of a flexible formula?
Mr. CLINE. We do not have any idea at this time. We anticipate engaging in the regulatory process, assuming the passage of the bill. Sitting here today, I really could not give any indication how that will proceed.
Mr. MINETA. To what extent has the Department been monitoring the new, much-less-expensive, wheel chair lift designed for use in over-the-road buses which are being used in Denver?
Mr. CLINE. I assume you are referring to the Hubmatic lift that the Denver
Mr. MINETA. Yes, that's correct, John. Mr. CLINE. We at the Department have not yet monitored that lift mainly because it is a relatively new lift. There are very few of them in use throughout the country. The Hubmatic, as I mentioned, is a German-manufactured lift that currently is installed and maintained, I believe, by Stewart-Stevenson who has, from what I understand, the sole rights for implementation.
The lift, itself, is a very interesting design and substantially different from other intercity coach lifts. We are, obviously, going to take a look at it in the near future. But I would mention that the usage that it is incurring in Denver is not indicative of what a normal, intercity-type coach would incur. So there will need to be, obviously, further analysis on that lift besides the Denver experience.
Mr. MINETA. Is there any explanation as to why it only costs one third to one-fifth of the cost of other over-the-road bus lifts?
Mr. CLINE. I had the lift demonstrated for me when I was in Denver. As I mentioned, it was a very interesting design. It ap pears to have less moving and working parts on it than the other lifts do. That might contribute to its lower cost; the fact that it is a little more simplified.
Mr. MINETA. How adequate is the current policy of accessibility practiced by inter-city bus providers in meeting the needs of the community with disabled citizens.
Mr. TRILLING. It certainly does not provide a level of accessibility compared to what is called for in the ADA. I think the inter-city bus industry has tried to do what it can, but it is, really, just starting to come to grips with the problem and is in its early phases of making accessibility arrangements.
Mr. MINETA. The inter-city bus industry has suggested that the ADA be amended so that they would be treated in the same way that airlines are relative to the accessibility issue. Would you summarize for us the form that the regulations arising from the Air Carrier Access Act will take?
Mr. TRILLING. The air carrier access industry is quite different. There has always been some degree of accessibility in the airline industry, a good degree of accessibility for many. The problem there has been some unfair discrimination and a lot of inconsistency in how those with disabilities are treated when they get on the carriers.
The difference that they cite between what goes on in the airline industry and what would go on in the bus industry is not well-defined. All the regulations that we will be putting in about the airline industry, as far as accessibility goes, are very particular to the kind of aircraft. For large aircraft, we would require more accessible features and for small aircraft, we would require less.
So I am not exactly sure what it is that the bus industry is referring to when they say equal treatment. The situation is quite different as far as the physical constraints of the two different kinds of vehicles.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much. Mr. Shuster?
Mr. SHUSTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a whole series of questions. I will probably run out of time, so if you would, simply, let me know when my time expires then I will, on a second round, continue with my questions.
Thank you, gentlemen, for being here today. The Senate Bill re quires transit authorities, when they are purchasing new buses for their fleets, to buy lift equipped buses. I wonder if you could tell us the following factual information concerning bus fleets and costs for public transit. How many transit buses are there in operation?
Mr. MROSS. Around 50,000, nationwide.
Mr. MROSS. Of a bus is $32,000.
Mr. SHUSTER. The average maintenance cost, per bus, is $32,000 a year. And the increase in that cost with the addition of a lift is what; $2,000?
Mr. MROSS. $2,000; that's correct.
Mr. SHUSTER. Can you estimate the aggregate annual cost to public transit entities to implement the lift requirement?
Mr. MROSS. It is difficult. Our best guess is that it is around $30 million. If the Federal government participates, we would expect, out of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, that would be $24 million of Federal funds, $6 million of local funds.
Mr. SHUSTER. You are saying $30 a year to implement the lift requirement is the total cost, of which $24 million would be Federal?
Mr. MROSS. That's correct.
Mr. MINETA. What are the ridership levels, disability ridership levels? For example, I have heard a story that in Seattle, where they have lift equipped buses, they average only one person using the lift every other day, per bus. Is that accurate?
Mr. MROSS. Again, that figure, nationally, we are estimating to be around 1,500 to 3,000, daily. Mr. SHUSTER. 1,500 to 3,000 users daily? Mr. MROSS. Yes, on a national basis. Mr. SHUSTER. Isn't there great variability between cities? Mr. MROSS. Yes. Mr. SHUSTER. I see people behind you nodding their heads yes when I quoted the Seattle statistic. Can somebody tell me is that an accurate statistic from Seattle?
Mr. CLINE. The Seattle statistic, from 1981 or 1983, is about 0.5 usage per lift.
Mr. SHUSTER. So that is one every other day?
Mr. SHUSTER. Does that suggest that there is great variability, that there may be, in some cities, much greater use of lifts and in other cities much less use?
Mr. CLINE. Currently, Seattle, based on our information, has the highest usage per lift.
Mr. SHUSTER. Seattle has the highest usage per lift, and it is only .5 per day?
Mr. CLINE. That's correct.
Mr. SHUSTER. That is an incredible statistic, is it not? You are saying that Seattle, which has the highest lift use per bus in the nation, has only one person using the lift every other day?
Mr. CLINE. That's correct.
Mr. SHUSTER. Let me move on. The Senate bill also requires private bus companies to purchase new over-the-road coaches within six years for large companies, seven years for small companies. Tell us the following factual information regarding the bus fleets and costs for the private inter-city bus industry? How many over-theroad coaches are in operation?
Mr. TRILLING. There are about 20,000, sir.
Mr. SHUSTER. Of these, how many are currently lift equipped?
Mr. SHUSTER. Practically zero. What does an over-the-road coach cost, the same $155,000?
Mr. TRILLING. No, it is more expensive; about $225,000.
Mr. SHUSTER. Would the lift be the same for it, $12,000 to $15,000?
Mr. TRILLING. This lift would add anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000 depending on which lift they bought.
Mr. SHUSTER. $15,000 to $35,000?
Mr. SHUSTER. Why would they spend more than $15,000, if you can get one on a
Mr. TRILLING. The lift you are referring to, which is the one that is being tested in Denver, has not had heavy over-the-road experience. We don't actually know how well it will fare in an over-theroad environment.
Mr. CLINE. I might also add that there is a substantial difference in the price. Up until recently, before the Hubmatic lift came on the scene, most of the inter-city coach lifts that were available were in the $30,000 to $35,000 range. The Hubmatic lift is substantially cheaper.
Mr. SHUSTER. But that is the one in Denver?
Mr. CLINE. That is the one in Denver and that is the one that is anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000.
Mr. SHUSTER. It is not proven out yet, either?
Mr. SHUSTER. So it is speculative on that. The average annual maintenance cost of an over-the-road coach?
Mr. TRILLING. For the coach, itself, we do not have any statistics. The government does not collect that kind of data.
Mr. SHUSTER. Surely Greyhound or somebody can provide us with those statistics later on today.
Mr. TRILLING. Surely.
Mr. SHUSTER. How much does that cost increase with the addition of a lift?
Mr. TRILLING. It ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 a year per bus.
Mr. SHUSTER. What is an average life of an over-the-road motor coach?
Mr. TRILLING. They very often last ten years, but sometimes Greyhound will sell them off at an earlier point.
Mr. SHUSTER. Of course, it is related to mileage.
Mr. SHUSTER. Can you estimate what the aggregate annual cost would be to the private inter-city bus industry if the lift require ment was implemented?
Mr. TRILLING. It could be in the range of 50 million to 130 million, and that does not get into the area of displaced seats or displaced cargo space and the lost revenue attributable to that.
Mr. SHUSTER. Do I understand correctly, that a lift on an intercity bus would require displacing two seats?
Mr. TRILLING. It could.