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and towns throughout the country in a relatively short period. In the case of

the rail systems, within 5 years, at least one car per train would be required

to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use

wheelchairs. Stations on intercity rail systems, including Amtrak, would have

to be made accessible within 20 years. Key stations on rapid rail, commuter

rail, and light rail systems would have to be made accessible within 3 years,

with the Secretary of Transportation being authorized to extend the period up

to 20 years for extraordinarily expensive structural changes.

In addition, the Americans With Disabilities Act would require public

transit agencies to ensure the provision of paratransit services for individuals

with disabilities who cannot otherwise use accessible fixed route

transportation. Public transportation services provided by private entities and

over-the-road buses would also have to be made accessible.

The Access Board would be required to supplement its Minimum

Guidelines and Requirements for Accessible Design to include accessibility

standards for transit vehicles and stations, as well as public accommodations.

Regulations issued by the Department of Transportation ana Attorney General

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under the Act would have to be consistent with these standards.

Representatives of the Department of Transportation and the Department of

Justice are members of the Access Board and have enjoyed good working

relationships with the other Federal agency and public citizen members of

the Board. We look forward to continuing this close relationship in the days

and months after the Americans With Disabilities Act is enacted in developing

accessibility guidelines and standards for public transportation and public

accommodations; educating covered entities about their responsibilities under

the Act; and providing information and technical assistance for achieving

cost-effective compliance with the Act.

The public transit industry has expressed some technical and financial

concerns about the Act's provisions. To accommodate those concerns, some

amendments have been incorporated in the Senate passed version of the Act

which we would like to further discuss with you. The Administration

endorses the Senate approach which includes a narrow, temporary exception

to the lift requirement for new buses in the case where a public transit

agency can demonstrate that manufacturers are unable to supply lifts for the

new buses. The Access Board maintains extensive files on lift manufacturers

and their products. There are several qualified lift manufacturers and with

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the passage of the Act, the Access Board believes that the American industry

will respond to the increased demand for lifts and that exceptions will be

unnecessary.

Consistent with the Senate passed version of the Act, the

Administration also recommends that if the provision of paratransit services

would impose an undue financial burden on a public transit agency, such

services should be required only to the extent that they would not impose an

undue financial burden. The Access Board believes that a flexible approach

should be used for determining what constitutes an undue financial burden

which takes into account such factors as population, service area size and

characteristics, current level of paratransit service, and interim degree of fixed

route accessible services. As fixed route accessible services are substantially

achieved, the use of paratransit will shift to feeder-distributor systems which

will be more cost-effective than alternative services presently provided.

The over-the-road bus industry has also expressed concerns about the

Act's provisions based on a lift which costs about $35,000 and takes up one

luggage bay and seven seats. There are other lifts which cost between

$7,000 and $10,000 and displace no luggage space and only two seats. The

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Act, as passed by the Senate, would require the Office of Technology

Assessment to conduct a study of the most cost effective means for making

over-the-road buses accessible and extending the period of compliance to 7

years for small providers and 6 years for other providers, with the possibility

of an additional year extension based on review of the study. The Access

Board would be involved in reviewing and commenting on the study. We

believe that this study will provide a firm basis for establishing minimum

guidelines and requirements for access to such vehicles.

Finally, there is a technical assistance provision in the Act, as passed

by the Senate, which we would especially recommend to you. The provision

would require the Attorney General, in consultation with the Access Board

and certain other agencies, to develop a plan to assist entities covered by

the Act to understand their responsibility under the Act and to provide

information and technical assistance on cost-effective means for achieving

compliance with the Act. The Access Board currently has an extensive

technical assistance program and believes that such a program is important

to help public agencies and private businesses to fully understand the

responsibilities under the Act and achieve compliance. The Access Board

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and other agencies have developed long and varied experience in cost

effective approaches for applying the principles of "readily accessible" and

"reasonable accommodation" which are embodied in the Act. By making this

expertise available to all who must comply with the Act, we can hasten

implementation of the Act; prevent unnecessary litigation; and most

importantly, avoid unnecessary costs to those entities covered by the Act.

We strongly urge the House to include a technical assistance provision in the

Act.

The Access Board looks forward to working with Congress, the

Administration, and other Federal agencies in crafting and implementing a

workable law that will ensure the full protection and guarantees of civil rights

and an accessible environment for Americans with disabilities.

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