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Mr. MINETA. I would like to call on David Capozzi, Vice President, Project ACTION, Jim Massara from the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans of America and Ellen Daly of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
I believe Mr. Jenkins wanted to get back to Pennsylvania this evening, so let me call on the General Manager of the Cambria County Transit, Harold Jenkins, to also come forward at this time. TESTIMONY OF A PANEL CONSISTING OF DAVID CAPOZZI, VICE
PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EASTER SEAL SOCIETY AND MANAGER, PROJECT ACTION; JIM MASSARA, EASTERN PARALYZED VET. ERANS OF AMERICA, ELLEN DALY, LEGISLATIVE ANALYST, PRESIDENT'S COMMITTEE ON EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, AND HAROLD JENKINS, GENERAL MANAGER, CAMBRIA COUNTY TRANSIT
Mr. MINETA. Mr. Capozzi, we have your statement. It will be made a part of the record. Please proceed in your own fashion.
Mr. CAPOZZI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is David Capozzi. I am the Vice President of Easter Seals, and I manage Project ACTION. I just want to give you a little bit of background about myself to explain my knowledge about transportation and my interest in this bill. Prior to coming to Easter Seals, I was with the Paralyzed Veterans of America for four years where I served as the Advocacy Director where we worked very closely with Mr. Mineta in passing a very important bill a couple of years ago called the Air Carrier Access Act.
I was somewhat happy to hear that the American Bus Association and Greyhound want to be treated just like the airlines as far as private transportation because, as you know, airlines are required to have vertical lifting devices and level boarding changes in all the airplanes, since 1978. Many of them do not do that, but they have been required to do that. That is irregardless of the Air Carrier Access Act.
We don't know what the final regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act are going to say, but they do have that requirement. So it is great that they want to be treated the same.
My predecessor, that I took over from with Project ACTION at the National Easter Seal Society, was Bob Bergdorf. Bob, as many people in the room know, was the principal draft person of the original Americans With Disabilities Act that was introduced in the last Congress. So Project ACTION has considerable interest in transportation
I would like to just tell you a little bit about Project ACTION. Project ACTION stands for Accessible Community Transportation in our Nation. It is a $3 million, multi-year demonstration project that is funded through UMTA. Its basic concept is cooperation.
A lot of what you have heard today and what you are going to hear today is that there are problems and that there are successes with transportation. Many of the problems and many of the successes can be keyed to whether or not there was cooperation between the disability advocates and a local community, and the transit providers in that community. If there is good cooperation, there is generally satisfaction with the transportation that is being offered.
If there has been discord, there hasn't been cooperation, it re sults in problems. Project ACTION is an effort to provide cooperative efforts at the local level between transit operators and the disability community to improve access. We will do that through a demonstration project which will channel money to local communities. Like I said, it is a $3 million project. We intend on spending at least 65 percent of that money in the local areas, so we are looking at about 15 demonstration projects all over the country to improve transportation through a cooperative process.
We are looking at, specifically, five areas: one, how do you identify people with disabilities in the community; second, improving training for transit operators so that they can be more sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities; third, training disabled people so that they get over some of their fears of using public mass transportation and to teach them how to use it more effectively. How do you use a lift, how do you read a bus schedule? How do you get to the bus stop? How do you access transportation; fourth, marketing transportation, developing cooperative programs to market accessible public transportation; fifth, finally, developing technologies that will break down many of the barriers to transportation.
Those five areas, all five areas, will be critical to helping with the implementation of the ADA. Chairman Anderson of the full committee said he was interested in the implementation or the ADA. Project ACTION will specifically help out with the implementation of the ADA.
As part of our research in developing the Request for Proposals for these cooperative niodel program, we have done a reconnaissance survey of 119 transit districts all over the country, and we have identified 59 transit districts—I have attached that as Attachment B to my testimony-59 transit districts that either have 100 percent accessible fixed route systems, or have a commitment to achieve 100 percent fixed-route systems within a reasonable time period.
That is only 59 systems that we have surveyed. I am sure that there are more that I am leaving out. Those are 59 that we have identified that are providing accessible transportation in their communities already. They do it in a multi-modal approach. There are large rural and medium-sized cities, anywhere from New York City to Los Angeles and Greensburg, Pennsylvania to Columbia, Maryland, a variety of city size and a variety of inclement weather and sunny-weather cities, places from Long Beach, California to West Palm Beach, Florida, Buffalo, New York and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In fact, I have a letter from the Mayor of Oshkosh that I would like to insert into the record. Mr. MINETA. No objection. [The letter referred to by Mr. Capozzi follows:]
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I am writing in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act and to dispel the notion that problems with main line transportation for persons with disabilities militates against passage of the legislation. For nearly a decade we in Oshkosh have provided public transportation for persons with disabilities and others having mobility iimitations. Our buses are equiped with wheelchair lifts and have "kneeling" capability to accommodate the needs our our traveling public.
Our winters can be harsh and the snow deep and persistent yet we have encountered minimal difficulty in serving our customers. The Oshkosh Public Works Department is sensitive to the special concerns of persons with disabilities and do a yeoman's job in keeping curb cuts free of snow and in maintaining other areas to ensure that all individuals have access to public transportation.
I urge you to support the Americans with Disabilities Act to allow all citizens equal opportunity of access to the quality of life offered by this great nation of ours.
James A. Mather, Mayor
Mr. CAPOZZI. The mayor says that he is writing in support of the Americans With Disabilities Act and to dispel the notion that prob lems with mainline transit for people with disabilities mitigates against passage of the legislation. He goes on to say, “Our winters can be harsh and the snow deep and persistent. Yet we have encountered minimal difficulty in serving our customers."
That was one of the 59 cities that we identified that have 100 percent accessible systems.
In addition, one thing was mentioned earlier about, “doesn't it make more sense to go back to the local option policy of providing service to people with disabilities because it might be too costly to provide lifts on buses?” As part of our research, we looked at the effects of different federal policies on the provision of accessible transportation.
The local option policy and the special effort policy which was, really, the same as local option-the special effort policy of the Federal government resulted in less than 5 percent of new buses being made accessible. 95 percent of the buses that were bought during the special effort phase of Federal regulations were inaccessible.
During the local option phase, only 42 percent of the buses bought during that phase were accessible. So if we go back to that, the result will be fewer buses being purchased accessible than are being purchased today.
Another question was asked to a witness earlier, how many buses last year were purchased that were accessible? In our re search, we identified about 42 percent of the buses purchased in the last two years were accessible buses. So, in city after city, the trend is to provide a multi-modal approach, buses with lifts and paratransit as a supplement for those who can't use lifts.
I want to give you just five examples of how Project ACTION can help in the implementation of the ADA. First is in the area of paratransit. One of the things that Project ACTION is going to do is, identify people with disabilities in the community, and develop marketing tools. Those two things, tied together, will assist in the concept of who cannot use public transportation.
We will identify people with disabilities in the community, target marketing to those individuals in an effort to move them from paratransit onto fixed-route accessible buses. A number of the comments that we received in our research to the 119 transit operators were, “Paratransit is a very burdensome thing for us to do because it is a very time-intensive, labor-intensive, process.”
We need to, somehow, craft a way to move people onto fixedroute buses. Project ACTION is very well positioned to help in doing that.
Also, one of the things that was raised in testimony earlier was that ridership levels are very low. Project ACTION will help increase those numbers, but ridership levels are, in fact, not that low in many cities. It is based on how you count riders. In Seattle, last year, it was reported to us that they had 1,400 lift usages in their fleet. They have 770 accessible buses.
So the number of people using accessible vehicles is growing. It is a question of encouraging them to use it more through a coopera. tive process between transit and disability folks. Project ACTION can help in that.
The other thing that we are going to be doing is institute training programs, for transit operators and for disabled people. That will help. We also have a commitment to improving lift reliability: One thing that hasn't been mentioned here today, UMTA had funded and did a research project on lift reliability two years ago in Syracuse, New York. It was funded by UMTA. It was an accelerated lift cycle testing process where they exposed a variety of lifts to severe weather conditions, snow, salt, rain and ice in a compressed time period so that you could determine how a lift was going to withstand winters for a ten-year period, and study it in about a ten-week period.
The result of that study is that lift manufacturers now incorporate the recommendations that came out of the study into their design of lifts. So what we have now is, really, state-of-the-art lifts that are coming out. So what may have been true ten years ago, that there were problems with lift reliability, will not be true subsequent to the ADA because you have state-of-the-art lifts coming out.
We have a commitment to making those even more reliable. I want to see lifts that produce a lift every single time it is used. We don't want to see a breakdown. We are committed to helping with that.
Also, we have collected some information on maintenance figures for lifts. DOT, in their regulatory impact analysis back in 1986, assessed the cost of maintenance at $650 per lift rather than $2,000. In Seattle, last year's cost for maintenance was $471. Many cities don't even keep track of the lift maintenance cost because it is either very negligible or it is just not worth their time to keep count of it because it is such a low cost.
What we have found is that if you integrate the lift maintenance program with the regular maintenance of the bus, the cost is marginal. If you have a person that is responsible for maintenance of the bus, and make one of their tasks maintenance of a lift, as opposed to identifying one person who is just going to be the lift repair person, it makes a lot more sense to do it the other way as opposed to single out lifts as a special component. That jacks the price up considerably.
W? are going to try to replicate cost-effective ways of maintaining lifts all over the country.
Securement has been raised, and I believe it is going to be raised in later testimony by the American Public Transit Association. Securement has been raised as an issue in a lot of transit districts that we have contacted in our research. As Dennis Cannon from ATBCB reported, the securement problem is not a major problem. It is a problem with matching different kinds of wheel chairs up to the current securement devices.
Project ACTION will work with transit operators and manufacturers of transit equipment and disability organizations to come up with a securement device that can be used affordably around the country that will be safe.
Finally, I want to point out a really innovative program that is starting up in Detroit. If I were in Detroit right now, I would be a