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Senator Harkin on May 15th of this year which contained three different estimates ranking from 5,000 to 13,000.
I also have another letter here from one of your colleagues at the Denver RTD, Mr. Larry Joe, who was a warranty administrator, addressed to an Illinois bus company in my district dated June 1, 1989. In this letter you estimate the cost of the lift to be 17,000. There are some discrepancies here. Certainly not 17,000.
Is it different costs for different buses or do the lift manufacturers know that lifts can be applied to a typical over-the-road coach, or how do you see this? What are the discrepancies?
Mr. HERMAN. R&D Denver paid all the engineering costs for this lift, including the transport back and forth to Germany on various versions. Along with the original cost for the lift was a lift that was purchased for the inter-city coaches from EEC Corporation through Neoplan, a lift that did not work. Because we had a contractual relationship with Neoplan, we had to fulfill that obligation.
It just kept driving the cost of the lift up. The latest version on the MCI coach was a total of 15,000 with engineering, If you deduct the engineering, if you went in and bought a lift for an application, we are looking at 7,000 to 9,000.
I don't think there has been an exact price on it. It may even be less than the 7 at this point in time. I realize it is very confusing, but again it was a confusing project.
Mr. HASTERT. I understand. Thank you very much.
Mr. Cook, I want to be sure I understood your testimony, and then I have another question. As I understood your testimony, and perhaps Ms. Golden also, it is not your position that this act requires all inter-city buses to be equipped with lifts. Did I understand your explanation correctly?
Mr. Cook. That's correct, not a single intercity bus presently out there ever has to be made accessible under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and not a single bus that is purchased over the next seven years has to be made accessible. It is only in 1998 at the earliest that accessible buses must be purchased, and then only if new vehicles are purchased.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. 'What I want to be sure about, though, is you are not saying that buses in the future, and I don't want to put double negatives in and confuse the question-are you saying that buses in the future after 1998, all of those buses must be equipped with lifts?
Mr. Cook. That's correct, if a new bus is purchased, it must be an accessible bus, but not necessarily with lifts. It could be a lowfloored bus with a ramp. You could use a lift at the station. There is, again, a wide variety of ways that you could provide accessible services.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. The reason I asked that question is I did understand you to say that what you are really asking and what you expect is that all buses be accessible.
Mr. Cook. Eventually over time, by the year 2010 I am talking about.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. Buses purchased in the future.
Mr. COOK. That's correct.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. Be accessible. By being accessible, you are not saying that they must have lifts on them?
Mr. Cook. That's correct.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. But in some manner enable persons with disability to be able to get on them?
Mr. Cook. The Congressman is correct.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. All right. I wanted to be sure I understood that, and that is how I understood. Now, the other thing I want to ask you is, I understood Mr. Currey's testimony this morning was that under the Greyhound plan, in two years, 85 percent of their-I am going to call them bus stations because that is what I called them growing up-85 percent of the Greyhound bus stations would be equipped to assist a person with a disability to gain access to the bus without any notice, without a phone call, without a telegram or anything.
Did you understand that that way? Mr. Cook. I wasn't quite sure what Mr. Currey was talking about when he talked about his specially equipped chair. Now, if that is a lift-type of device where the wheelchair user does not have to be carried, then it may well be a feasible means of complying with the Act, and this is something which I think the OTA and Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board study should look at, as one of the possible ways of providing access.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. Well, I asked him and he agreed, as I appreciated his testimony, that the disability community would be consulted with, and we would have their input on the chair that–because I don't know what it looks like, and for it to work, and I think it is going to have to be acceptable to the disabled community.
The point I wanted to get to is, assuming that at 85 percent of the bus stations in America that without notice a disabled person can
Mr. MINETA. Could I correct something. As I recall, I think Mr. Currey said 85 percent of the passengers at those two hundred locations. I don't think it was 85 percent of the 200 locations. I think that is where his 85 percent-I had a question in my own mind about that at the time you said that, and so I asked him about it later, and as counsel reminds me, it was 85 percent of the passengers at those 200 locations.
Is that correct?
Mr. LAUGHLIN. Then I misunderstood it, and I am glad the Chairman got it clarified.
Mr. MINETA. No, I thought I heard it the same way, that's why I asked him about it.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. Then I can take up with the Chairman then what happens to the other 15 percent. But then Greyhound certainly has more than 200 bus stations around.
Mr. MINETA. He has got, as I recall, how many, 5,000 locations? Ten thousand locations, and those you would call in advance 24 or 48 hours, as I recall.
Mr. LAUGHLIN. But that accounts for only 15 percent of the disabled riders, then?
Okay, well, then I have no further questions, Mr. Cook. You have helped me get clarifications in the areas where I needed. Thank you very much.
Mr. Cook. If I could interject just one very brief comment about carrying. The reasons for our concern about having people with disabilities carried are two-fold. One is, it is an enormous indignity to a person with a disability to have to be carried instead of being able to just stay in their chair, and the second thing is, it is a very large safety hazard, not only for the wheelchair user, but also for the person doing the carrying, unless they have received specific training on how to carry a person in a wheelchair.
And I think Mr. Currey may not have considered that as a cost of the possibility of having to carry passengers through the use of his suggested device.
Mr. MINETA. I think that is why, Ms. Golden, you could understand why the employee would say or the company would say, our workers compensation wouldn't allow us, or a liability problem involved.
Ms. GOLDEN. That is right. And just to further clarify, Mr. Laughlin, the original statement in terms of just clarifying the Act's requirements, it is correct that every future bus has to be accessible, as Tim was responding, for fixed route system, including Greyhound normal inter-city coach service, but the Act doesn't require that of demand response systems, like charter and tour services, and that was one of the misunderstandings this morning.
The Senate compromise only requires every new bus to be accessible in those systems unless the system is not now accessible when viewed in its entirety, which means unless the system cannot handle its disabled customers that call in at the current time. If they need more accessible vehicles, they need to get them, so char: ter and tour services aren't under as strict requirements as fixed route.
Mr. MINETA. Mr. Duncan.
Mr. DUNCAN. I will be very brief because we have other witnesses who have been waiting a long time to testify. But, Mr. Markward, you said in your testimony how important the Greyhound transportation system was to people in New Mexico to get to the airport and so forth.
Do you simply not believe Mr. Currey, the Chairman of Grey. hound, when he testified this morning that many of those routes in New Mexico would be—that they would eliminate many of those routes if this Act passes?
Mr. MARKWARD. I believe my answer would be, yes, I do not be lieve his statement this morning. Past experience has told me that in other items, especially with construction contractors, that that simply was not the case.
Mr. WINSKE. If I could, Mr. Duncan, one of the things that concerned me this morning about Mr. Currey's testimony was I think he vastly underestimated, first of all, the number of new riders he would generate. I don't think he comprehends that 70 percent of the people in America live below the poverty line and therefore would be inclined to use buses.
He made a statement that most disabled people own their own vehicles. That is factually not true. Most disabled people cannot afford their own vehicle. A new lift-equipped van is anywhere from 20 to 35 thousand dollars plus the insurance. Not many disabled people can afford that.
So I think Mr. Currey overestimated the cost because he was going by the cost figures of lifts today of 35,000 when it is a new technology, and I think he underestimated the new ridership.
Mr. MARKWARD. Mr. Congressman, if I may, Mr. Currey, this morning, asked an additional two years to study this problem. Why wasn't Greyhound Bus Company studying the problem two years ago? This subject has not just come up within the past two years.
Mr. DUNCAŅ. Well, that brings up another point. You know, I really don't know whether I am for or against this bill, but it does concern me when I read the lead editorial in the New York Times, which is not a conservative publication or particularly pro business, an editorial that is very unfavorable to this Act.
The editorial they had, I think, on September 6th, said, "blank check for the disabled.” And when I read the column that I referred to in the National Journal, which is probably one of the most objective publications that is in existence today, when I read that they say that this Act is very ambiguous and that no one really understands what it means and that it is being rushed through, you know, out of sympathy for the disabled, which all of us have sympathy for the disabled-and does it concern any of you that perhaps we are-you know, that this is something that we need to do but that we are rushing into this and that we are going to end up with some pretty important legislation because we are putting this on too fast a track?
I know the easy answer to something like that is to say, well, this should have been done many years ago, but all this as far as this legislation is concerned, all of this legislation has come up just fairly recently that it has been given any real attention here in the Congress.
Who wants to-
Mr. Cook. If I may address that briefly, Mr. Duncan, this was a bill that originally was developed by the National Council on the Handicapped, an Executive Branch agency, which took over two years to draft the first version of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This was not just something that was done haphazardly or very recently rushed through.
It was a very painstaking process through an executive branch agency that had input from ail over the country. A body of the House of Representatives, the Select Committee on Education established a body which held hearings in all 50 states on the Americans with Disabilities Act to receive input from not only people with disabilities, but from the people who would be affected by the Act all over the country. And that was the Committee on Empowerment of People with Disabilities chaired by Justine Dart.
In the Senate, there is a thousand-page volume of hearings that were held over three days with several dozen witnesses, including the Attorney General of the United States, testifying in favor of this bill.
I think there have been at least five hearings so far held in the House of Representatives on this bill, and so I think it is a little bit unfair of the New York Times, I think we counted, by the way,
Mr. Duncan, 13 separate factual errors in that one short editorial in the New York Times. They simply have not talked to anyone in the disability community, anyone on the staff of the Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped, before writing that editorial, and I think if they do get their facts straight they will find that this has been an enormously studied issue.
It is something that is way past being due for people with disabilities, and it is time that it is passed.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, if it has been so painstakingly prepared, why does the National Journal and I believe even the Washington Post express some concern about it being too ambiguous and uncertain? Do you know why there is still that concern?
Mr. Cook. I would suggest that they read the testimony and read the Senate report, which is lengthy, on the bill, and I think many of the questions will be answered. I think some people have put the idea in their minds that this is something that is being haphazardly and too quickly done, but I think if they ever sat down and looked at what the process has been, they would see that it is not something that is haphazard, the issues have been addressed, and you know if they would talk to people with disabilities or talk to the people who actually developed the bill on the National Council of the Handicapped, they would get some different answers, I think.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, I am told that these hearings that we are holding now, that we held one day of hearings last week and then this today, that this is the first time that these transportation issues have been really discussed here before the Congress or before the House. Is that correct?
Mr. Cook. That may be true in terms of the House. There is another hearing on Thursday to further discuss transportation issues. That will have been at least three separate committees having hearings on the issue of transportation alone, and I believe the issue of transportation has come up in other hearings, although it may not have been the central purpose of those other hearings.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Herman, I was impressed by something that you said. We had heard earlier that in Seattle that even though the buses were lift equipped that they were used on the average of once every three days, and in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, once every two days or maybe I have reversed that, I am not sure, but you said you had 42,000 handicapped riders.
Now, does that mean more than just people in wheelchairs, is that right?
Mr. HERMAN. That is strictly wheelchairs.
Mr. DUNCAN. That is strictly wheelchairs. Out of home riders is that? What percentage is that?
Mr. HERMAN. We transport about 180,000 people a day, and
Mr. HERMAN. Forty-two thousand a year, yes. I think the direct comparison
Mr. DUNCAN. I can't do math that quickly. Do you know what percentage that is?