« AnteriorContinuar »
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.
We 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 bus stop. (Holding up a red mitt.] One of the things that we hear all the time is, “I can't get to the bus stop because it is up a hill. It is ten blocks away from my house," or, “It is snowing,” or, “There are no curb cuts.” You hear all these issues being raised. That is an answer to support paratransit.
What can work and what has worked in Detroit is, if you can get to the bus route, even though the bus stop is ten blocks away, if you can get to the bus route, and you hold up an orange mit, you are a bus stop. So if you live on a bus route and you go out your driveway, even though the bus stop is ten blocks up a hill or up a vertical cliff, and it is snowing out, you don't have to get to the bus stop. All you have to do is get to the end of your driveway and hold up a 50-cent mit, and you are on the bus.
Those are the kinds of innovative programs that we are going to examine and replicate around the country, that are cost-effective simple solutions to improving transit.
A couple more points. Mention was made earlier about a meeting with the President about charter bus. I want to answer that and then I want to, also, tell about a meeting that I had with the President since we are all meeting with the President. The answer that the President gave regarding charter bus was, in fact, correct. Not every single new charter bus need be accessible under the Senatepassed version of the ADA. There is no retrofit for charter buses or any other buses under the ADA and not every single new charter bus need be accessible.
Every scheduled service private bus put into production six or seven years after the passage of the ADA would have to be made accessible. So it is not every single new charter bus. So the President's answer was, essentially, correct.
The other thing that the President said in the meeting that a group of disability advocates had with him several weeks ago was that he has a commitment to maintaining the Senate-passed version specifically in the area of inclement weather. He doesn't want to see a broader exemption for inclement weather areas. That was a commitment that he made to us.
In conclusion, I want to say that when the Senate passed their bill, they included a piece on technical assistance. You already have a piece on technical assistance. Project ACTION is a way to help implement this bill. We fully support the Senate's version on technical assistance. I think it should be included in the House version.
But I want you to be aware that you already have technical assistance available. It is funded by UMTA, and we are ready to help.
I also want to include Mr. Dirks' testimony from Detroit for the record.
Mr. Massara, we have your statement and will go ahead and make it part of the record. Because we are running late, I wonder if you could just go ahead and summarize in your own fashion.
Mr. MASSARA. Certainly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In my professional capacity, I am in constant contact with roughly 1,300 disabled veterans in the Buffalo, New York region. Approximately 25 percent of these persons use mass transit for employment, medical treatment, shopping or other personal errands. Virtually all these people's basic personal needs would be severely curtailed without the use of lift-equipped buses and/or the lightrail rapid transit system.
I have observed, firsthand, in both Buffalo and Syracuse, New York, the paratransit systems are not conveniently available any time a disabled person may require their use. In Syracuse-I used to live in Liverpool, New York, which is just outside of Syracuseunfortunately, the paratransit system, at that time, only came to Liverpool on Thursdays. I had to schedule my entire life around Thursdays. This is not equal access.
From the standpoint of disabled veterans, there is a dire need of transportation to and from VA medical center appointments for treatment. Cutback in the VA's budget have resulted in curtailing beneficiary travel within local areas since June, 1987. When beneficiary travel was drastically reduced, our office was deluged with calls from distressed veterans wanting to know how they could get to and from appointments.
Some of the slack was taken up by voluntary services. The rest was absorbed by lift equipped buses. In every case handled by our office—there were 393 in the first three months—paratransit was out of the question because of scheduling problems. These veterans had no idea how long they were going to be at the VA hospital so they could not schedule their return trips. The lift-equipped buses certainly come in handy for them.
As far as the problem of snow removal is concerned, cities such as Buffalo that experience excessive snow fall are equipped to handle such snow fall. Obviously, the snow fall came before the city and the city's ability to cope with removal evolved accordingly.
Buffalo averages 96 inches of snow fall annually. The average temperature for December, January and February is 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow removal is rapid and efficient. Rock salt is dumped on streets and sidewalks to keep them free of ice. Bus stops are cleared concurrently as streets are cleared. The only time that the disabled person would be prevented from catching a bus or from getting to a bus stop really would be the times when nobody is traveling, everybody is snowbound, able-bodied and disabled, alike.
Mr. Chairman, I am proud to say that I live in a city which, in spite of severe winter weather, has become a leader among the nation's cities regarding accessible mass transportation. Despite a desperate need for funding sources, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority already has successfully operated and maintained a system with more than 50 percent of its buses equipped with wheel chair lifts and a fully-accessible light-rail rapid-transit line.
As further indication of the ability to implement accessible mass transit, in spite of inclement weather, NFTA has committed itself, through a procurement policy, to having 100 percent of its buses equipped with wheel chair lifts. I have attached some information from NFTA.
But this, clearly, sends a message to other snow cities that, if we can do it, so can they.
I would just like to add one thing in the area of private transit. The Act will require intercity transit providers to purchase only ac
cessible buses after six years. Bankruptcy and severe service cutbacks are the specters raised by Greyhound. But this does not stand up to the light of reason.
Accessible over-the-road coaches are on the road today in which access costs no more than for city buses. Lifts on these buses take up no baggage space and only one seat is lost. Rest rooms are not accessible, but the ADA would not require accessible rest rooms on these buses.
Given the rapid development of lift technology so far without a legal mandate, the cost will surely fall. The extra time given this industry, in particular, should be more than sufficient.
Thank you for affording me the opportunity to speak before this subcommittee. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. MINETA. Fine. Thank you.
Now we will have Ms. Daly, from the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Ms. Daly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will also summarize. You have my testimony. I have been involved with transportation for the last fifteen years as it relates to people with disabilities, so I would like to share with you some of the learning I have experienced.
People with disability need to be able to choose the method of transportation that best suits them. It is true that for a small percentage of people, paratransit is the only system that will meet their need. But for a great many of the disabled population, an accessible mainline system can fully meet their transportation need.
For those who live in parts of the country served by public transportation, accessible transit can facilitate regular employment. The United States is facing a labor shortage. Yet, there are people with disabilities wanting to be employed. A 1986 Louis Harris pole report states that the lack of accessible or affordable transportation is a significant reason why they are not employed.
The hour is now. There needs to be accessible public transportation. Paratransit, as it operates in most communities today, is very restrictive and not equal to that of public transit. Paratransit systems operate on an advance reservation call-in system. That call may need to be into the scheduling anywhere from 16 to 72 hours in advance of a trip. How long would the non-disabled rider put up with that silliness?
Paratransit does not allow for any spontaneity. You can't decide on a moment's notice that you want to go shopping or stay at the office late. There is no flexibility. You awake at 6 a.m., not feeling well, and decide you will stay home in the morning. But there is an important meeting in the afternoon and you must attend. "I'm sorry, but you will have to go in the morning or you won't get there at all because you are prescheduled. Your meeting is over early, but you will have to wait until you are scheduled to be picked up.
Paratransit simply allows you no choices. Rescheduling same-day trips rarely can occur. In order to use most paratransit systems, you have to meet their eligibility standards, meaning that you have to have medical documentation that states you need the services.
Before I became disabled twenty-six and a half years ago, I used public transportation in lots of cities. Never once was I asked for
documentation that I needed the service. All I needed to do was to get on the bus, pay the fare, and follow the rules.
Paratransit is not public transportation when a non-resident wishes to use it when visiting a city. Mr. Chairman, I face this problem when I travel on business throughout the United States. I certainly will face this situation when I return to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I am still a property tax payer. To use the Milwaukee system, one must request an application form from the user-side subsidy which is their paratransit.
Upon completion of the application, the form is then returned to them with a $7.00 fee. They, then, send a form to my doctor who will, then, verify my condition and that I need paratransit. Assuming the doctor adequately responds to the user-side subsidy request, I should, then, receive a letter telling me I am eligible.
Finally, during their regular business hours, I will need to go to their office and have a photo ID made which, then, I will have to carry with me to use the service. Then, of course, I must follow the rules for scheduling
Other visitors just simply go to a corner and get on a bus. No one asks them to document why they are there or why they need the ride. Requiring action to make mainline transportation accessible would eliminate this burden and discrimination.
Paratransit hours of service, areas serviced and fare charges, often do not mirror that of public transportation. When the hours of service and area served differ from the mainline system, this puts a person with a disability at a disadvantage. They can only be employed based on operating hours in the area of paratransit operation.
The system does not offer bus passes, off-peak hour fares and they, in fact, charge more for a trip. The transit operators use this high fare as a way to keep trip demand in control while they are marketing their mainline system. An accessible mainline system could relieve the paratransit system.
The dialogue could go on and on. You need to know that fifteen years ago, there was not any public transportation accessible to people with disabilities. The people with disabilities spoke out. Bus lifts, at that time, were in their infancy, so paratransit came about. It is time, now, to take the next step and make all new mainline buses accessible to the 49 million Americans with disabilities.
The letter Mr. Capozzi mentioned from the Mayor of Oshkosh certainly points that possibility out. The Americans With Disabilities Act would make this happen. Also, as the former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Governor's Committee for People with Disabilities, I would like the record to show that since 1976, they have been on record as supporting accessible mainline transportation and have responded to all of the action, both at the Federal and state level, relative to accessible transportation and have gone on record supporting the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Mr. MINETA. Let me now call on Mr. Harold Jenkins, General Manager of the Cambria County Transit Authority, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
26-421 0 - 90 - 5