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sit systems receiving national operating assistance to charge the elderly no more than half of the base fare of other riders. There wasalso a movement in Congress at that time to create rules and regulations to ensure that state and local governments receiving national funding for transportation projects accommodate the transportation needs of the physically handicapped. In 1973, the Urban Mass Transportation Act was amended to include funding for private, nonprofit agencies to provide door to door transportation for elderly and handicapped persons. Also that year, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandated that handicapped persons could not be discriminated against solely because of their handicap by any entity receiving natio
nal assistance. Most mass transit systems were subject to Section 504 because they received national assistance under the Urban Mass Transportation Act.In an effort to comply with Section 504, most mass transit systems instituted a supplemental, doortodoor, paratransit transportation system (typically vans oncall) for the elderly and handicapped. Advocates for the handicapped argued that this was insufficient and demanded that all conventional mass transit facilities (subway stations, subway cars, buses, etc.) be made handicapped accessible. In 1978, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued regulations requiring bus and rail transit equipment to be handicappedaccessible. Among the regulations was one requiring new buses to be equipped with either a ramp or lift for wheelchair boarding and have the ability to kneel to within 18 inches of the road for easier boarding. Also, all rail transit and commuter railroad systems were to be retrofitted to accommodate people in wheelchairs within a 10to 20year period. The cost to local mass transit operators to make these changes was estimated at $1.5 billion, with the greatest expense for the installation of elevators in every subway station in the nation. The new regulations were met with howls of anger from mass transit operators and city officials. They complained that the $1.5 billioncost estimate was far too conservative (they estimated that it would cost at least $6.8 billion) and that it would be more costeffective to expand door todoor, paratransit transportation services than retrofit equipment and facilities.38Local transit operators lobbied the U.S. Department of Transportation for regulatory relief. When those efforts proved ineffective, the operators’ trade association, the American Public Transit Association, sued the U.S. Department of Transportation, arguing that its mandate exceeded the law’s intent. The U.S. District Court upheld the mandate’s legality, but the operators appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals and won. The U.S. Department of Transportation then amended its regulations to apply only to the nation’s “most important” subway and commuter rail stations (approximately 40 percent of all stations) and required mass transit operators to make a “special effort” to serve handicapped persons.