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This is, I think, going to be one of the principal bipartisan accomplishments of the first session of the 101st Congress. I am pleased to be here with you, Mr. Chairman, to briefly participate in these hearings.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Hoyer. Thank you for your leadership on this issue.
At this time, I would like to recognize our fine colleague from New York, Mr. Boehlert.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I, too, would add my words of praise to the Vice-Chairman of the Committee for bringing this issue forward. While we are giving out plaudits, I would like to give some credit to the Administration for the enlightened position and leadership it is providing.
I think, as is very evident by the line of questioning today, it is not going to be easy. Like most of us up here, before I do anything, I would like to know the consequences of my action. Do you have any projections on what impact the implementation of this portion of the Americans With Disabilities Act might have on fares and service?
Mr. CLINE. That would be difficult to answer at this point be cause we do not, really, have any solid estimates on what will happen to the demand for the fixed-route lift equipped buses and paratransit in relation to that. So “no estimates" is the answer.
Mr. BOEHLERT. It seems to me that would be relatively easy to get. I would encourage you to try to obtain it.
Mr. CLINE. We have, sir. We have tried to, as best we can, estimate what the shift might be from those individuals who are currently using paratransit services because of the unavailability of lift-equipped fixed-route buses. However, there is such a variation, nationwide, and there are some systems that are substantially liftequipped but still are not nearly 100 percent lift equipped. That impacts the travel for disabled individuals in not knowing that they can complete their trip with a fixed-route lift equipped bus.
So it is still a nebulous issue.
Mr. BOEHLERT. But you are thinking about trying to get that in. formation?
Mr. CLINE. Most definitely.
I notice on page 3 of your testimony, Mr. Mross, you indicate that temporary relief might be provided a public entity from purchasing a lift equipped bus if the lift is unavailable and the public entity has made a good-faith effort to locate a lift equipped bus. Is that possible? How many manufacturers are there of lifts, for example?
Mr. MROSS. Three or four.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Do you anticipate a lot more getting into the business if this becomes law?
Mr. MROSS. More manufacturers?
Mr. BOEHLERT. As a practical matter, if it signed, sealed and de livered at the Oval Office next week-and although we all would like to see it move foreward rapidly, you and I both know it is not going to happen--and then the order goes forward to all the public transit systems, as a practical matter, are they all going to have to stand in line to get the lifts that we require? How long a period will it take?
Mr. CLINE. Currently, there are approximately anywhere from 3,000 to 3,800 buses manufactured each year. It is our belief that the current number of manufacturers of lifts could meet that level of demand. So we would not anticipate that there would be any shortfall of lift production.
Mr. BOEHLERT. How long does the bill require for compliance; how long a period before compliance is required? Mr. CLINE. Within 30 days of the enactment of this bill, all
solicitations for the purchase of new vehicles must include a lift. So any new vehicles solicited within 30 days after enactment of the bill are covered by it.
Mr. BOEHLERT. How about the retrofitting provision?
Mr. CLINE. The retrofitting is only to the extent that the bus goes through a major rehabilitation. That would require a lift to be placed on that vehicle.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Forgive me for being somewhat parochial, but are you familiar with the Orion 2?
Mr. CLINE. Yes, I am.
Mr. BOEHLERT. That wouldn't fall under this, would it, because that is not a lift? It is a magnificent vehicle. If my colleagues have not seen it, I would be glad to extend an invitation to visit my district where it is manufactured. But the whole rear end of the Orion 2 goes down to ground level, so it is easily accessible. It is a magnificent vehicle. I know they just sold 80 of them in Sweden. I would like to see them sell some more in the United States.
Would that meet the requirements of this legislation?
Mr. CLINE. Yes. It is our belief that it would because that vehicle, from what I remember of it, it has a flip-down ramp, and it is a low-floor bus to begin with.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Right.
Mr. CLINE. The current legislation requires an accessible vehicle. So the use of that ramp on that particular bus would meet that requirement.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you for that enlightened answer.
Mr. MINETA. Mr. Rahall? Wait a minute; before I call on you, I just remembered we have a call of the House for a vote. So let me, at this point, recess before I get into your time.
We will recess for responding to this vote on the Rule as it re lates to the Aviation Security Act.
(Recess from 11:50 a.m. to 12:14 p.m.)
Mr. MINETA. Would the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation please come back to order. Just before we had the vote, I was about to call on our colleague from West Virginia, Mr. Rahall. Mr. Rahall?
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I, like many of my colleagues from rural parts of America, are deeply concerned that our areas of the country have adequate access to the major markets. We have seen cutbacks in recent years in airline service, in trucking service. Our roads are, often, very difficult to build because of our terrain. We have seen cutback even in bus service.
What limited bus service we still maintain, we have been told, is threatened by this legislation. I don't buy that but, nevertheless, it is a concern that I don't think can go without being expressed in these hearings as it was expressed in the debate in the other body.
As I understand it, the other body has added language that would provide a three-year study on provision of access for handicapped to over-the-road vehicles; is that correct?
Mr. TRILLING. That is correct, sir.
Mr. RAHALL. In addition, there would be a six or seven year period in which certain bus companies have an opportunity to comply.
Mr. TRILLING. Right; six years for the large ones and seven years for the small one companies.
Mr. RAHALL. So there is no opting out in the Senate provision of any of the requirements of the bill, but just this additional language of a study in which we can find out more answers like access to restrooms or just what the legislation does or does not do; is that correct?
Mr. TRILLING. Yes. There is one clause in there that indicates that if the President finds, from the results of the study, that intercity bus would be curtailed in rural areas, the deadline could be postponed year by year, postponed a year at a time. Mr. RAHALL. This is in rural parts?
Mr. TRILLING. This is in rural parts; right. That is in the Senate bill as it stands.
Mr. RAHALL. Is there any way that study could be speeded up, say, to an eighteen-month period, or is the three-year period supported by you? Is that what is necessary?
Mr. TRILLING. I don't know if I could comment on that. The study is to be done by the Office of Technology Assessment with inputs and review by the Architectural Barriers Board. But it would be a very, very difficult study to do. I don't know whether it could be accelerated or not. There is very little data out there on many of these issues: what the patronage would be, things of that nature.
Mr. RAHALL. The Senate report, as I understand it, but not the bill, says that inter-city buses must be fitted with bathrooms as the technology exists to assist them in this effort. Since the technology appears to be available today, won't that requirement become an immediate requirement for compliance along with other costs that will be incurred by the private bus companies?
Mr. TRILLING. The inference, as we read it, is that technology means a way to put those accessible lavatories in without a major loss of seats because they do take a lot more room. So the reference to the technology applies to being able to do so without a high economic cost because of the loss of seats. That is the way we inter
Mr. RAHALL. Let me ask you another question about complaints that you have received from disabled individuals. In your proposed rule making on airline access, the DOT did state that you had received many complaints from disabled persons in their problems with the airlines.
Are there any available figures in comparison as to the number of specific complaints you have received from disabled persons not being able to ride on inter-city buses and, if so, over what period of time have those complaints been made?
Mr. TRILLING. I do not have any offhand. We could try to get you that for the record, Mr. Congressman.
[Mr. Trilling's answer follows:] The Departmental Office of Civil Rights which investigates accessibility complaints concerning mass transit systems estimates that it has received three such complaints during the past three years. The Interstate Commerce Commission estimates that it receives approximately twenty complaints a year from people who do not think that Greyhound's Helping Hand Service is an appropriate substitute for lift equipped intercity buses.
Mr. RAHALL. Again, referring to the airline rulemaking proceeding, DOT does not require on-board wheel chairs on each plane, but allows the airlines to require the forty-eight hour advance notice by disabled persons for such equipment. If that is a provision in that particular situation, in the airline situation, has thought been given to requiring such advance notice or advance booking, so to speak, for intercity buses to also be able to be accessible to the disabled?
Mr. TRILLING. It is a possible form of a solution. The requirements are a little bit different because the wheel chair that applies to the Air Carrier Access Act would be the on-board wheel chair which the disabled individual would transfer into. If you are talking about a twenty-four hour advance notice that a disabled individual would have the needs for an accessible bus, that is a possibility and I would assume that would come out in the study as to whether that was a feasible solution or not.
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you. I have no further questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MINETA. Mr. Hastert?
Mr. HASTERT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me first say that I really appreciate you and the ranking member, or Vice Chairman, bringing this issue before this Committee. There are a lot of needs to be addressed and, certainly, the needs of all people in this country to be able to move from one point to another point, and have fair and equal access to areas so that they can transfer freely back and forth.
I have some concerns in this legislation. Some questions have arisen during the testimony that I would like to set straight. We were just talking about buses. Do you have any idea what is a seat replacement on a bus; to have two wheel chair positions, how many seats do you have to replace on a bus?
Mr. CLINE. Are you referring to inter-city buses?
Mr. TRILLING. If the standard bus had 47 seats, with the TMC/ MCI, the seating capacity with one wheel chair would go down to 44. With two wheel chairs, it would go down to 41.
Mr. HASTERT. Then with a different configuration of a restroom; what would that extra area be?
Mr. TRILLING. The restrooms are tentative, but with an accessible restroom, the 47 seats would go down to 43. So, according to these estimates, you would lose four seats. However, with a one wheel chair provision, you would only lose two seats. You would go from 44 to 42, with the accessible lav.
Mr. HASTERT. So you would have two wheel chair positions and an accessible lavatory,
Mr. TRILLING. No, that is one wheel chair with an accessible layatory. But the same holds for two wheel chairs. It goes from 41 to
Mr. HASTERT. So, basically, what we have done is cut capacity by roughly 20 percent.
Mr. TRILLING. Two parts on a 40 base. That's not 20 percent.
Mr. CLINE. It would eliminate four seats; that is just, shy of 10 percent.
Mr. TRILLING. Not with the two wheel chair; it would only elimi. nate two. If you had a wheel chair provision and a lav
Mr. HASTERT. If you go from 47 seats to 39 seats with a lav and two wheel chair positions, you have cut, basically, 8 positions out of 50, so you are around 16 percent or 17 percent reduction. Mr. TRILLING. That's correct.
Mr. HASTERT. The cost of that bus would increase by how much? One of those buses is $225,000? Mr. TRILLING. Yes, sir.
Mr. HASTERT. What would the additional cost to outfitting a bus like that be?
Mr. TRILLING. I don't think it is too high. It is probably on the order of $1,000. Mr. HASTERT. So it is, really, in the same ball park; $1,000 to $2,000, you say? Mr. TRILLING. The $1,000 is the estimate I have. Mr. CLINE. That is excluding the lift cost. Mr. Hastert. Not counting the lift cost. Mr. TRILLING. This is only the accessible lav.
Mr. HASTERT. Then in a mass transit situation, I heard you use a phrase before, “key station.” Could you define what a key station
Mr. CLINE. Do you want to know the current
Mr. HASTERT. You said key station. I am a layman. I don't know what it means. Tell me what it means.
Mr. CLINE. The bill's report language states that the determination of what is key is best left to the local community and suggests that the recent agreements that I mentioned previously that had becn worked out in New York and Philadelphia would serve as good models in making that determination. Mr. HASTERT. What is that?
Mr. TRILLING. In New York City, 38 stations out of 465 were considered key while 11 out of 53 in Philadelphia, on a high-speed line, and 31 out of 172 commuter rail stations were considered key. The characteristics that were taken into consideration would be high ridership, transfer and feeder stations and stations near cultural, educational, recreational or entertainment centers.