RESOLUTION URGING BREAK IN ADA-RELATED STATIONS LOGJAM
Whereas Amtrak and commuter rail long have served disabled passengers well, and have refined boarding techniques for disabled persons to minimize dwell time while complying with ADA regulations;
Whereas federal officials in recent years have fostered controversy over the meaning of 1991 regulations, and threatened (in Docket OST-2006-23985) to require “full length level boarding” even though in many locations this would mean unsafe conditions and other operating problems and practical difficulties, including huge costs,
Whereas much station investment has ground to a halt either at the direction of federal officials or because prospective public and private investors are wary of the uncertain and unreasonable regulatory climate, thereby limiting the quantity and quality of public transportation for the disabled and for the general public,
Whereas the following three examples illustrate the problem:
• New Buffalo, Michigan, where a developer seeks to provide a modern, accessible station on tracks used by eight Amtrak trains a day, replacing the existing “gravel-strewn, below-the-rail platform” on a track used by just two Amtrak trains a day;
• Normal, Illinois, which has completed preliminary design for an intermodal transportation center (that also would serve Bloomington) and believes “the proposed rail [regulatory] modification…would…cause harm to efforts to provide easy intermodal transfers from Amtrak to local buses for our disabled and non-disabled population.”;
• Lyons, New York, which has been trying to build a station for over 15 years. Each time they have gotten funding, the freight railroad has raised the bar. CSX now is requiring an island platform with an overpass. The high-level platform DOT seeks presumably would require two by-pass tracks or gauntlets, pricing the project beyond the community’s reach. Moreover, even if funds were available, the westbound by-pass track would impinge on a freight yard, which CSX says is off limits; and
• In Brattleboro, Vermont, Federal Transit Administration is requiring the state to build a full-length platform even though there is not sufficient property for this and the station is served by just one train a day in each direction..
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Board of Directors of the National Association of Railroad Passengers urges the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Access Board to:
• end policies which have blocked new station development where full length level boarding is problematic, and
• make clear that station development can proceed without fear of retroactive application of onerous, new requirements such as “full length level boarding.”
—Approved October 21, 2006, by the Board of Directors of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, meeting in Austin, TX.