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I MIGHT ADD THAT MILWAUKEE IS NOT THE ONLY INCLEMENT WEATHER JURISDICTION WITH THIS EXPERIENCE. IT HAS BEEN REPEATED AGAIN AND
AGAIN IN OTHER INCLEMENT WEATHER JURISDICTIONS. IF THE SUBCOMMITTEE WOULD LIKE, I WOULD BE GLAD TO PROVIDE A VARIETY OF SURVEYS OF THE DISABLED COMMUNITIES' PREFERENCES AND RIDERSHIP FROM
OTHER SUCH JURISDICTIONS.
THE TRANSIT INDUSTRY IS IN GREAT FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES. THE
FAREBOX PROVIDES ONE-THIRD OR LESS OF THE COSTS OF OPERATION. THE
FINANCIAL BURDEN OF PROVIDING AN ACCESSIBLE BUS SYSTEM FOR A VERY
FEW, AS WELL AS AN EFFECTIVE PARATRANSIT SERVICE MAY PROVE TO BE TOO MUCH TO BEAR WITHOUT SUBSTANTIAL REDUCTIONS IN PARATRANSIT SERVICE AND/OR SERVICE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC.
THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THE DISABLED DESERVE TRUE MOBILITY. THERE IS ALSO NO QUESTION THAT THE BUS, AS WE KNOW IT, CAN BE MADE MORE ACCESSIBLE TO MANY DISABLED PEOPLE. WE SHOULD BE EXPENDING OUR EFFORTS TO HAVE LARGER DESTINATION SIGNS AND SIGNALING DEVICES TO AID VISUALLY DISABLED PEOPLE AND VISUAL AIDS TO HELP THE DISABLED WITH HEARING PROBLEMS. INSTEAD, WE ARE SPENDING LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY, LARGE AMOUNTS OF TIME AND ENERGY ON LIFTS THAT, IF OPERATED PERFECTLY, COULD SERVE VERY FEW PEOPLE. A LIFT
EQUIPPED BUS, AT BEST, SERVES BUT A SMALL FRACTION OF THE MOBILITYDISABLED POPULATION. A LIFT CANNOT BE USED BY USERS OF CRUTCHES, WALKERS, THE BLIND, AND MANY OTHER DISABLED PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT DEPENDENT UPON WHEELCHAIRS. AN ALTERNATIVE SERVICE, SUCH AS WE OFFER TODAY IN MILWAUKEE, CAN SERVE ALL DISABLED PEOPLE.
11 A TRANSIT VEHICLE, BE IT A BUS OR RAIL, IS BUT ONE MEANS OF ACCESSIBILITY TO REACH FACILITIES. IT IS MY BELIEF THAT PERSONS
IN MILWAUKEE NEED ACCESSIBILITY TO WORK, TO SCHOOL, TO RECREATION,
AND TO ALL THE OTHER RIDING OBJECTIVES OF ANY OTHER PERSON.
SYMBOLIC MOBILITY PROVIDED BY A BUS LIFT IS A CRUEL JOKE FOR THE
DISABLED WHEN IN FACT IT IS UNUSABLE BY THE GREAT MAJORITY OF THESE
IF THE MILWAUKEE EXPERIENCE IS AT ALL INDICATIVE OF THE
PROBLEM OF TRANSPORTATION FOR THE DISABLED, THERE IS NO REAL
QUESTION OF CHOOSING ALTERNATIVES. ONE PROGRAM MEETS THE MOBILITY
NEEDS OF THE DISABLED, THE OTHER PROGRAM MAKES BUSES, BUT NOT
NECESSARILY THE BUS SYSTEM, ACCESSIBLE. IN THE 2 3/4 YEARS OF LIFT BUS OPERATION, THE USER-SIDE SUBSIDY PROGRAM PROVIDED IN EXCESS OF
280,000 TRIPS OF WHICH APPROXIMATELY 195,000 WERE WHEELCHAIR USERS. THE LIFT-EQUIPPED BUSES IN THE SAME TIME PERIOD PROVIDED 1,495
TRIPS FOR WHEELCHAIR USERS.
DOOR-TO-DOOR SERVICE IS NOT SIMPLY
PREFERABLE TO LIFT-EQUIPPED BUSES IN INCREASING THE MOBILITY OF
DISABLED PERSONS, BUT IT IS ESSENTIAL IF TRUE MOBILITY, RATHER THAN
SYMBOLIC ACCESSIBILITY IS THE DESIRED RESULT. FEW COMMUNITIES CAN AFFORD BOTH. LOCAL OPTION IN COOPERATION WITH THE DISABLED
COMMUNITY HAS BEEN WORKING IN MILWAUKEE.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION. I WILL BE PLEASED TO ANSWER ANY
Mr. MINETA. I would now like to call forward a panel made up of Kathleen Parker, Board Member of the Regional Transportation Authority of Chicago; Douglas Donenfeld, Board Member and Chairman of the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee, Chicago Transit Authority; Lou Gambaccini, General Manager of SEPTA and Dick Sandaas, Executive Director of METRO in Seattle.
Ms. Parker, we have your prepared statement. It will be made a part of the record. Ms. Parker, if you will proceed in your own fashion, please. TESTIMONY OF A PANEL, CONSISTING OF KATHLEEN PARKER,
BOARD MEMBER, REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, CHICAGO; DOUGLAS DONENFELD, BOARD MEMBER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE FINANCE, AUDIT AND BUDGET COMMITTEE, CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY; LOUIS GAMBACCINI, GENERAL MANAGER, SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY; AND DICK SANDAAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, METRO, SEATTLE
Ms. PARKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You do have our statements, so I will summarize it. Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, my name is Kathleen Parker. I serve on the Board of the Northeastern Illinois Regional Transportation Authority which serves a six-county Chicago metropolitan area. The RTA is responsible for overseeing a transportation network which serves approximately 2.5 million riders per day in our area.
That number includes 3,100 daily paratransit riders for the disabled. I have served on the RTA Board since 1983 and have been Chairman of our Committee on the Mobility Limited since 1984. I am here today on behalf of our board and our chairman, Gail Franzen, who was unable to be in Washington today. I am testifying for the RTA, CTA, METRA and PACE.
I appear before you to express support for the broad goals of the ADA. But these broad goals can only be achieved if certain changes are made in the ADA. We applaud the House and Senate sponsors of this legislation for addressing long perpetuated civil wrongs and seeking to replace them with civil rights.
However, in several instances, we would maintain that the legislation before you as it emerged from the Senate will lengthen implementation time and add to the difficulty of achieving its stated objectives. As a local agency, which has sought to comply with a variety of federal regulations in this area, the RTA has some experience to bring to your deliberations.
In particular, I would like to acquaint you, briefly, with the regional plan for the Mobility Limited which we have just developed after a ten-month policy process. This local plan was developed in consultation for our Mobility-Limited Advisory Committee, MLAC, which includes representatives of the key groups representing the disabled in our region.
Further, our plan is consistent with the recommendations of the Illinois Governor's Task Force on Disabled Transportation complet ed in 1985. The result of these efforts is a realistic and compassionate plan for providing mobility to those who, until now, have felt excluded from the service provided by transit providers.
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In summary, the plan calls for the following; full performance mainline accessible service, paratransit service to supplement mainline service at the level which we can afford; region-wide eligibility and certification for the paratransit service; financial perimeters for meeting the goals of the plan within our statutorily-required 50 percent fare box recovery ratio.
Mr. Chairman, we are aware that some parts of our plan may not comply with the final version of the ADA. However, it is important to point out that this plan was developed to comply with existing requirements. The plan is flexible and we will attempt to make whatever changes are necessary to comply with any new ones.
The principal challenge of the ADA to the RTA is reconciling our responsibilities to our disabled consumers with the needs of the $2.5 million daily riders who rely on us to deliver safe, timely and efficient service every day. Unfortunately, the bill approved by the Senate gives us reason to be concerned that, as we meet this challenge, unrealistic federal standards may be substituted for realistic and workable local action.
We are particularly concerned with three aspects of the Senate bill; those are, the requirements for comparable paratransit service, commuter-rail accessibility and key station accessibility. Allow me to discuss each one very briefly.
Concerning the paratransit requirement, the Senate bill requires that a comparable level of service be provided to those who cannot use mainline accessible service. The word comparable can be too easily interpreted to mean duplicative services we simply cannot afford. There is a provision allowing a somewhat reduced level of service to be provided if meeting the full requirement would pose an undue financial burden.
Unfortunately, key questions relating to the definitions of comparable service and undue financial burden, and to the eligibility for paratransit service are left unanswered in the statute. With regard to commuter-rail vehicle accessibility, the Senate bill fails to recognize the operational differences between commuter rail and rapid rail service. · METRA has now determined that it will make each cab car accessible by equipping it with a lift, thereby making each train accessible. However, the requirement to make every rail car accessible to the disabled would be unnecessarily costly.
On key stations, neither the Senate bill nor the committee report defines its terms. This welcomes legislation at the local level over how that term is defined for each system. This issue of key stations is a crucial area of local operational decision making. Mr. Chairman, the well-intentioned efforts of the Senate have resulted in a complicated and ill-defined set of requirements which are likely to result in a long delay in the implementation of the bill and put the implementation in the hands of judges.
We want to see our mobility limited population on our buses and trains, not in court. What we need is a law which relies on local processes like the one we have pursued in our region to make important definitional and operational decisions. Congress should set the broad standards and set the perimeters for a local process to flesh out the details.