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1,100 people. Cincinnati Queen City Metro bought 87 lift-equipped buses in 1981, over 100 in 1986. Over half their fleet is now liftequipped, but Metro doesn't choose to use their lifts. It is their option and it is legal.
The general manager of San Antonio told a group of people with disabilities, “Lifts? Over my dead body." Well, you heard earlier testimony that someone must have died in San Antonio because San Antonio has made a commitment to total access.
Washington, D.C., continues to insult its disability community, with a 50 percent policy. One out of every two buses will be liftequipped until they get to 50 percent which added to the insult. To even add to the insult, they raised the 50 to 75 recently. It makes no sense. I can go out to the bus stop with you. You can catch all four. I can catch three of the four. It makes a lot of sense.
Atlanta, Georgia, which I moved to in July of 1986, had no commitment, made a commitment to 100 percent in 1987. Llowever, it will be the year 2000 before I can ride the same buses that you do—the year 2000—twenty-seven years after the passage of 504.
I am not aware of any city whose paratransit-only approach accommodates out-of-town guests. I am only aware of people who, one, haven't taken jobs, have taken certain kinds of jobs, have been denied promotions, or are not looking for work because of paratransit-only approaches.
None of Greyhound's vans or buses—there had been no disussion about the fact that Greyhound has vans-over 4,000 have no lifts. Instead, they have their "helping hands" program. In other words, you bring someone to carry you on and then they can refuse to transport the chair that I am sitting in. That is Greyhound's commitment to people with disabilities and Greyhound's commitment to providing access.
Hotel shuttles from airports don't exist. When is the last time you took a trip on an accessible tour bus?
In summary, clearly local option means no option. Clearly anybody who supports local option believes in inequality.
I am going to summarize, finally, by reading one article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal paper on Friday, July 14, 1989.
Wheel Chair Rolls into Lake Carrying Man to his Death. A 38-year old man with cerebral palsy, in a rickety motorized wheel chair rolled into a Snellville lake Thursday, drowning him only months before he was to receive a custom-fitted chair purchased with local donations. Gwinnett County rescue teams struggled in vain to resuscitate Dwayne Jones, who was found submerged near the bank of Brisco Park Lake by passers by at about 2:15 p.m., Gwinnett police said.
Mr. Jones, who was almost completely paralyzed, was still strapped in his chair, police said. Mr. Jones was rushed to the hospital in Snellville and pronounced dead at 3:09 p.m. Police said Mr. Jones' wheel chair, which had a history of breakdowns, was examined for signs of malfunction. Staff members at the Snellville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where Mr. Jones had lived for two years discounted the possibility of suicide but said he had been depressed recently.
They said Mr. Jones had become close to a nurse who moved to Florida two months ago. "He has always gone in and out of depression," said the Director of Nursing, “and he had lots of friends and we loved him."
Mr. Jones captured the hearts of Snellville residents two months ago with his efforts to buy a $9,000 wheel chair to replace his eight-year-old chair. This year's annual Snellville Days Spring Festival raised money for him and caught the attention of several Atlanta Falcons football players. Donations which poured in from all over the county totaled $11,000, enough to have some special features built into the chair, which had already been ordered.
The chair was custom built and delivery was not expected for months. Ms. Cobol said she and other staff members began worrying about Mr. Jones unaccompanied visits to the park after he began having gastrointestinal difficulties this winter. “They feared he might choke without help nearby," she said. But Ms. Cobol said Mr. Jones valued his freedom more than anything else.
The reason I read that article into the minutes is nobody asked “What is a 38-year-old man living in a nursing home for?” Nobody asked, "Why did he have the wrong chair in the beginning?” Nobody asked, "Why did he have to beg his community for $11,000 to buy the chair that is rightfully his?" Nobody asked a lot of questions about Mr. Jones.
If you think your decision about the Americans With Disabilities Act is difficult to come to grips with, wait until you have to answer these questions and wait until you have to provide the kind of support so that we can live in our communities.
Atlanta is not only, and Georgia is not only, blessed with folks that are dying. We have got people who want to commit suicide. Why do they want to commit suicide? It's because they continue to be treated inequal. And it beats you down. And it holds you down. And it makes you feel less than whole.
To pass the Americans With Disabilities Act that is not whole will only continue to perpetuate those personal feelings of inadequacy.
Thank you. Mr. MINETA. I have no questions. Do any members have any questions? If not, again, thank you, Mr. Johnson, very much. We will go ahead and excuse you so you can get to your plane.
Mr. JOHNSON. May I add one thing?
Mr. JOHNSON. If you look at APTA's statement, it says paratransit costs a whole lot of money, and they are the people that have been providing it. Second of all, to imply that if there are not enough of you to ride, we are not going to do it is, once again, offensive.
I can remember the days when building owners would say, “Unless you prove to me that you are going to come into this building, we are not going to build a ramp?” Isn't it interesting today that you cannot build a new building unless it has a ramp.
Mr. MINETA. Thank you very much, Mr. Johnson.
At this time, I would like recognize our colleague from Minneso ta, Mr. Stangeland.
Mr. STANGELAND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a statement that I would like to have made part of the record. I am not going to go through it, in the essence of time. Mr. MINETA. No objection; so ordered. [Mr. Stangeland's prepared statement follows:) STATEMENT OF HON. ARLAN STANGELAND, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
MINNESOTA Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me commend you for your leadership in holding today's and next week's hearings on H.R. 2273, the Americans with Disabilities Act. This legislation will affect how we live, work and travel in immeasurable ways. It may be one of the most important bills we address this year.
As the House's Transportation Committee, we need to look long and hard at H.R. 2273's far-reaching impacts on public and private transportation. I recognize the bill is widely supported and, as they say in Washington, on a "fast track.” I also support
the basic aim of the legislation and many of its proposed reforms. But there are some potential problems and pitfalls in the transportation titles. These hearings should be helpful if we can put aside some of the rhetoric and platitudes and focus on specific concerns raised by a broad spectrum of interests. Then we'll be in a much better position to improve the bill-making it more workable-while not de laying its progress or lessening our commitment to the disabled.
Some of the concerns I have, and that many of our witnesses will explain, involve cost, flexibility, and implementation. This has the potential to become landmark leg. islation, Mr. Chairman. But if we don't address its far-reaching and controversial transportation provisions, it could eventually undercut our efforts to remove bar. riers and end discrimination.
Mr. Chairman, I want to personally thank you for accommodating my request to allow two witnesses from St. Cloud, Minnesota, to testify. Because of their expertise and involvement, David Tripp of the St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission and Kathy Wingen of Advocacy Plus Action are in positions to offer valuable insight. They have unique perspectives on the transportation needs of the disability community in rural America-specifically in Minnesota.
David will describe St. Cloud's highly acclaimed paratransit program which is tai. lored to the disability community's particular needs. St. Cloud's door-todoor, spe cialized service has a $215,000 annual budget, offers maximum opportunities for increased mobility, and enjoys broad support among the disability and non-disability community. He will also mention some concerns about the House and Senate legis lation involving cost and local flexibility.
The Metropolitan Transit Commission fears that a Federal mandate to equip every new fixed-route bus with a wheelchair lift regardless of the localized factors will adversely impact their paratransit program, and ultimately decrease transportation opportunities for both disabled and non-disabled passengers. It becomes a question of cost effectiveness and flexibility of local governments to design programs that the disability community is confortable with and that addressa special factors such as winter conditions and elderly passengers.
Kathy will testify about St. Cloud's disability community and its transportation opportunities. Kathy has a long list of accomplishments. She is the leader and founder of Advocacy Plus Action. She is an advocate for improved transportation and recognizes that mandating both paratransit and specially equipped fixed-route service may be unrealistic in given circumstances.
So, I want to welcome both Dave and Kathy to Washington and to the Public Works Committee. I think our members can benefit from their views and ultimately improve the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Finally, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership, cooperation and willingness to listen. This legislation is too important for us not to address the concerns of transportation experts and impacted citizens.
Mr. STANGELAND. But I would like to introduce two of my constituents from Minnesota. I want to thank you personally, for accommodating my request to allow them to be here to testify.
First of all, I would like to introduce Mr. David Tripp, who heads the St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission. I am not going to tell you what he is going to say because he can articulate that far better than I. With him is Ms. Kathy Wingen. Let me say that I have known Kathy for about seven, going on eight, years, now, when I first got St. Cloud into my district as a result of redistricting.
Kathy Wingen is one of the people in St. Cloud that heightened my consciousness and my sensitivities to the problems of the handicapped. St. Cloud has an extremely active, extremely aggressive, handicapped community. Kathy Wingen is a leader in that community and has been for years, and in Minnesota as well.
I am going to ask unanimous consent as well to submit for the record Kathy's resume so that you know that she comes here with very, very high credentials.
I think they are going to give you some testimony that is a little different than what you have heard as to what St. Cloud has done
and, possibly, to what this legislation could do to a program such as St. Cloud where the handicapped community created a sensitivity to the city government of St. Cloud fifteen years ago.
The City of St. Cloud has been providing for fifteen years good transportation for the handicapped. It is a real success story, and I hope the committee will take note of what they say, certainly ask them any questions you would like. They are here to give you a very candid view of what St. Cloud has done and how they feel that, without some exceptions, exemptions or recognition of what some small rural, northern communities have done to provide service to the handicapped, this legislation could cause some irreparable harm to the handicapped and to the transit commissions in northern parts and in small towns.
So, with that, Mr. Chairman, I would certainly welcome the testimony of Mr. Tripp and Ms. Wingen.
Mr. MINETA. Ms. Wingen, we have your statement for the record. Mr. Tripp, proceed in your own fashion. Then we will hear from Ms. Wingen.
Mr. TRIPP. Good afternoon, Chairman Mineta, Congressman Stangeland, distinguished members of the subcommittee. I believe a written copy of my testimony is now being presented.
Again, my name is David Tripp. I am the Executive Director, Chief Executive Officer, of the St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission, a political subdivision of the state of Minnesota. As the expression goes, every coin has two sides. I guess I am here, today, to talk about the other side, of some concerns that we have in Minnesota.
For your information, the St. Cloud MTC, as we call it, serves a three city service area of about 54,000 population with two services; a fixed-route fleet, seventeen peak hour, 21 buses with nine routes transferring in downtown and a specialized service fleet of four buses for mobility-impaired citizens utilizing driver-assisted door-todoor service.
More specifically, our MTC special service was Minnesota's very first door-to-door system in 1974. The six service criteria for a spe cialized service as established by the United States Department of Transportation have been exceeded by far means and including the 3 percent minimum expenditure, has been far exceeded by an almost 13 percent expenditure of the total operating budget of the MTC.
Not included within that 13 percent operating budget are two very modern state-of-the-art accessible minibuses from a photograph that you will be seeing soon. Also, for your information, there are approximately 1,100 registered passengers in our service. We carry about 190 passenger trips each weekday for an annual total of 50,000 trips.
These are not necessarily eldrly trips. However, the great majority of registered passengers 65 and over, are elderly. You have got to be transportation-disabled in regards to utilizing the fixed-route service to be eligible for the specialized service.
But 50,000 trips a year is a pretty good figure when you consider we have a 54,000 population area. The average fully-allocated, (including the cost of the vehicle) cost per trip for 88–89, is $4.10 per trip, which I think is a relatively low figure from figures you have, perhaps, heard of elsewhere. The total annual operating budget is $210,000. That compares to the total annual operating budget for the fixed-route system of $1,430,000.
The fixed-route has an annual ridership of 1.4 million at a fullyallocated cost-per-trip of $1.09. The reason I am here today is that I am concerned about the mobility of all citizens of the St. Cloud area. I, as a public transit professional, having worked with the disabled communities and the non-disabled communities, citizenry, in our area, to design their transportation programs that are requested, that they request, that they need, I am here to inform you of some facts that I believe are being overlooked or overshadowed by discussions to date on mainline transit accessibility.
In particular, some factors regarding small urban cities such as the size that St. Cloud has, and I will have to refute or, at least, disagree with some earlier comments in regards to some of the climatal conditions of the North and how we see that in St. Cloud.
St. Cloud MTC and-and I put an emphasis on "and"-its disabled citizenry has continually, in the last fifteen years, put its money and its efforts into the specialized service system because in Minnesota we all feel that a fixed-route accessible transit system would, realistically, be unaccessible five months of the year.
St. Cloud does have some very real conditions that laws are not able to change. For example, the very health-endangering frigid temperatures that Minnesota does experience; neighbors who don't shovel their sidewalks one or two or three or even more days after heavy snowfalls or even light snowfalls and make mobility very difficult to impossible; snow-plow hills and ridges that border every street and every intersection among our three cities.
If a disabled citizen depends on public transit for their job, for school, for college, for physical therapy or for whatever on a daily basis, they need reliable and safe mobility, the type of mobility our specialized service provides and a fixed-route accessible system in St. Cloud, we feel, cannot provide: reliability.
St. Cloud's disabled citizenry realizes this statement and, since 1980, with the meetings and public hearings on 504, has argued that with the limited governmental subsidies and local efforts, monies and efforts should be expended on the mobility service needed and requested by St. Cloud's great majority of disabled citizens.
Accessible fixed-route transit will cost additional local funds for lift purchase, lift maintenance, driver training and whatever. There is a very legitimate fear that, with this additional fixedroute expenditure, decisions in the future to either decrease or to not increase the specialized service may be made.
I do realize that in the ADA bill, fixed-route accessibility also re quires a level of paratransit or a level of specialized service; but, at what level? Again, we are providing 13 percent right now, with a federal minimum of 3 percent. If the Commission, in future years, decided with an accessible fleet, and the budgets are tight, that maybe we can drop the specialized budget 3 percent, to go to 10 percent; that $45,000 to $50,000 means a lot of mobility. It would definitely decrease the mobility for disabled citizens with that kind of a decision.