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incorporating accessibility into the design of those vehicles, operational problems currently effecting accessibility will be
addressed and solved.
Extending the 100% accessibility requirement to diesel commuter trains ignores the difference between high-platform operations and diesel operations. Because diesel commuter trains do not operate off high platforms, they do not have the same problems associated with closing the gaps between trains and platforms as do high-platform trains. Therefore, RTA's plan for accessibility would require that the cab car of each diesel commuter be accessible. Because every train must have a cab car, one car per diesel commuter train would be accessible. We believe that this approach to accessibility on our suburban commuter rail trains will meet the needs of our disabled customers while posing little or no operational difficulties. The alternative - putting a lift on each car would require significant and unnecessary costs to be borne at the local level.
I should re-emphasize, Mr. Chairman, that our plan, which calis for one-car-per-train accessibility is consistent with the Illinois Governor's Task Force on transportation for the disabled a representative group of handicapped organizations. It represents a realistic solution to the difficult problems presented by the need to make commuter rail operations
The RTA's first priority has been and will remain to maintain, rehabilitate and preserve the mass transit infrastructure
throughout the metropolitan Chicago region. Like many older mass transit systems around the country, the Chicago area faces a nassive deficit in resources devoted to infrastructure improvements. It is absolutely imperative that we spend our scarce infrastructure dollars in the most strategic, cost effective manner possible.
We are concerned with the language in H.R. 2273 as regards the retrofitting of key transit stations. Once again, the Senate bill lacks a precise definition of "key stations". Such a lack
determine just what the Congress meant by "key" station. The RTA believes that the determination of which stations will most facilitate the use of the system by the disabled is a decision best left to the local service areas to resolve in consultation with their local mobility limited community.
In closing, I want to point out that we at the RTA feel that as public officials we and the members of the sub-committee share a responsibility to help pass a bill on transit for the disabled which will work. For our part Mr. Chairman, we will comply with
n transit for the dis
the Americans with Disabilities Act even though Congress is
providing no new funds whatsoever to help us meet this mandate. While we prepare to assume the financial and operations responsibility for compliance, we urge Congress to give local transit operators the ability to make important definitional and operational determinations within the parameters of the ADA.
We at the RTA have demonstrated our ability and willingness to serve our disabled riders through the development of the regional policy I discussed earlier. The policy complies with existing federal and state laws and was developed to be consitent with the Governor's Task Force. We believe it is a realistic, compassionate plan.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act becomes law, we hope the final product of your efforts will allow us to play the role for which we are best suited - continuing our new plan for meeting the financial and operational challenges posed by the act. It is our hope Congress will not produce a bill which creates illdefined standards and iron-clad requirements to comply with them.
Local decision-making works best when it is allowed to address local issues. Federal policy making works best when it addresses broad national goals - particularly in the area of redressing wrongs done to the less fortunate.
Mr. Chairman, the ADA will be a triumph if both the federal government and local authorities do what they do best. We hope to celebrate that triumph with you and our disabled community in the coming years.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
PUBLIC WORKS AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
The Subcommittee on surface Transportation
THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, H.R. 2273
LOUIS J. GAMBACCINI
SEPTEMBER 20, 1989