Passenger Vessel Association
901 North Pitt Street, Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22314
November 13, 2006
Office of Technical and Information Services
Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board
1331 F Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20004-1111
Re: Docket No. 2004-1 “Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Passenger Vessels”
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Passenger Vessel Association – the national trade association representing U.S.-flag passenger vessels of all types – submits these comments to the Access Board in response to the above-named docket, as published in Federal Register of July 7, 2006.
The Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) represents the interests of owners and operators of dinner cruise vessels, sightseeing and excursion vessels, passenger and vehicular ferries, water taxis, private charter vessels, whalewatching operators, windjammers, gaming vessels, amphibious vessels, and overnight cruise ships. PVA has been in operation for 35 years and currently has nearly 600 vessel and associate members. Its vessel-operating members range from small family businesses with a single boat to companies with several large vessels in different locations to governmental agencies operating ferries. When we commented on your first draft of the passenger vessel construction guidelines, we estimated that of the approximately 1,380 vessels owned or operated by PVA members, over 50 percent would be covered by the guidelines for large vessels. With your proposal in this draft to embrace all ferries, regardless of passenger capacity, we believe that an estimated 900 -1,000 vessels may fall within its scope. The National Ferry Data Base, complied by the Volpe Center several years ago, recorded 677 ferry vessels of all sizes. This data base is being updated currently by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, but there has probably been a slight increase in these numbers. In addition, based on extrapolation from Coast Guard data and PVA membership information, PVA estimates that there are at least another 225 “large” passenger vessels (other than ferries) embraced within these proposed guidelines.
PVA’s associate members are key suppliers to the passenger vessel industry, including marine architects, vessel builders and decorators, insurance companies, publishers, food supply companies, computer software vendors, marine equipment suppliers, engine manufacturers, and others.
In our comments, we will first discuss several major points of concern raised by the most recent of the draft guidelines:
• The proposed inclusion of all ferries regardless of passenger capacity within the scope of the guidelines must be reconsidered and reversed. Many small ferries have limitations of dimension, crowding, and boarding that approximate those of water taxis, vessels that are properly exempted from the scope of the draft guidelines.
• The conclusion that accessibility guidelines do not conflict with Coast Guard regulations is a generalization that PVA does not concur with. In some instances, the draft guidelines still retain the possibility of conflict with Coast Guard rules. For example, the guidelines’ requirement of 80 inches of clear height of an accessible route is clearly at odds with the Coast Guard minimum of 74 inches. Since the Coast Guard rule is designed to keep vessel weight as low as possible to enhance vessel stability, the guidelines impose a factor that conflicts with Coast Guard safety objectives.
• The issuance of a Coast Guard certificate of inspection must be prima facie evidence that the administrative authority has found the vessel in compliance with the applicable accessibility guidelines. This is particularly important where the guidelines authorize best practice or there is subjective judgment of acceptability.
• The two case studies released thus far selected solutions for promoting accessibility that may not be options either aesthetically or practically. The elevator “dog house” on the dinner cruise vessel’s upper deck is probably a no-sale to almost every owner. Lengthening the ferry to compensate for four lost automobile spaces may not be a viable solution. Vessel dimensions are often defined by outside forces of dock space, channel depth and width, air draft, and state or federal regulation. The true cost may be lost income due to carrying space that is reserved for accessibility and not available for the vessel’s primary service.
PVA takes note of the Access Board’s likely future addition to the accessibility guidelines Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by overlapping the Passenger Vessel Accessibility Guidelines and the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG) to address the question of on/off issues. This overlap bridges the gap between land and a floating structure, a gap that often has a varying difference in elevation. How the guidelines may address or compensate for this difference in variable elevation remains challenging.
Many vessels do not control their docking areas. Such landside facilities are owned by local governments or private entities. They may be parks, multipurpose entertainment areas, hotel waterfront property, public bulkheads, launching ramps, ramps leading to streets or other roadways, unimproved shoreline, and the like. Some loading areas may be used but once or infrequently visited. The burden of accessibility cannot be borne by the vessel alone if the landside location cannot be made accessible either due to conflict with the party that controls it or lack of jurisdiction or authority by the vessel operator.
The Access Board has posed several questions. PVA submits comments on each individually.
Question 1 - Passenger vessels are normally built for a specific trade in a specific type of environment. As a rule, vessels in service do not undergo alteration or rebuilding, particularly if there has been no change in ownership. Often, such an action would trigger a need to come into conformance with subsequently developed Coast Guard regulations, compliance with which has not been required because the vessel has been “grandfathered.” This may be impractical or prohibitively expensive, a fact which may deter alteration of the vessel.
In contrast, passenger vessels often undergo small changes, usually cosmetic, when transferred to a new owner in a similar service to suit the new owner’s anticipated employment of the vessel. If the vessel changes service, such as into or out of dinner cruise service or into or out of excursion/transportation service, more extensive alterations or rebuilding may be undertaken. These can include galley facilities, passenger space layouts, bulkhead movement, stairway relocation or addition, and the like. In this case, the expense is seen as a necessary capital investment. The frequency of these changes are unknown, but are presumed to be on the order of a dozen or so a year.
When riverboat gaming first opened in several Midwestern states in the early 1990’s, there was a premium on inspected passenger vessels. As a result, many saw rather dramatic changes including insertion of new midbodies, widening, and lengthening. This significant phenomenon has run its course and is unlikely to be repeated. Changes in fleet utilization such as high-speed ferry transportation currently require new building.
Question 2 - PVA members that offer gaming on their vessels indicate that they have been able to serve the demand for slot machine access under current practice. Other than a few post-mounted binoculars on some vessels in sightseeing service, there is no other example of similar “operable parts”.
Question 3 - There are several “small-ship” overnight vessels specifically designed for landing passengers on beaches and on sites other than piers and landside structures. They may employ bow-mounted ramps normally deployed from a main passenger deck; these systems are not used for routine loading and unloading at cruise ports.
The traditional riverboat design includes one or more stages (ramps). In many operations, these are used for routine passenger boarding and discharge at the owner’s main facility, especially where the boat is moored bow-on. In operations where the riverboat moors port- or starboard-side to the pier, the stage plays no part in ordinary business operations. Even when the stage is not used at the main business location, it can come into play during charters, occasional deployment to other ports, or during festivals or port-oriented celebrations (fireworks).
Question 4 - This question points out one of those conflicts between the goal of accessibility and Coast Guard regulation. Many vessels use upper decks for refuge, assembly, and evacuation if that becomes necessary. If a new vessel is equipped with elevators or platform lifts that must comply with V410.4, the primarily impact will be on the electrical generation and distribution system. This system is one of the more expensive vessel support systems. This may substantially increase the original equipment cost, vessel weight, and operating costs of the vessel. The specific difference in cost will probably depend on the intended service of the vessel. A vessel where elevators are provided as an expected or desirable attribute (an overnight cruise vessel) may only have to increase the generating capacity a modest degree. However, for other vessels, the requirement could result in substantial cost increases, not only for the elevator and the power plant, but also on operating costs (because of the resultant higher weight of the vessel).
Question 5 - Use of table V18.104.22.168 appears to be reasonable for many newly constructed vessels (other than ferries) that are in the large vessel category. However, the table should not be used for ferries. Please refer to further discussion under V221.2. Small passenger vessels can have very restricted cabins. It is doubtful that small vessels will have open deck seating, particularly if they carry vehicles. The problem of small vessels was demonstrated in the vehicle ferry case study. This vessel probably has more flexibility to incorporate accessibility features than many existing small ferries. In narrow cabin spaces, seating is often a single bench oriented in the fore and aft direction.
Question 6 - Sliding doors used in the marine environment must be substantial and firmly anchored because they must contend with wind, weather, free water, and even vessel flexing. Availability of doors with tracks of one-half inch or less in width is unknown.
Question 7 - The experience of the passenger vessel industry is that most of the insurance claims for personal injury arise from slips, trips, and falls. There is no separate accounting for claims arising from such incidents caused by gangway cleats. In areas where environmental conditions might overwhelm ordinary non-slip, non-trip features, devising an acceptable alternative to cleats or traction features may require public/private research efforts. This issue is even more complicated where the vehicle boarding ramp also doubles as the passenger boarding path. This dual usage is probably very prevalent in small vehicular ferries where space is limited and separate people/vehicle access is non-existent or structurally infeasible.
Question 8 - PVA has no knowledge of this issue.
Question 9a - The case studies do not acknowledge that outside factors may render impractical a solution that might appear feasible at first blush. Dock and terminal dimensions may not be able to accommodate a ferry lengthened to compensate for lost auto-carrying capacity that results from installation of accessibility features. The marketplace often puts a premium on intangible considerations. Thus, a dinner cruise vessel with an unsightly elevator housing its uppermost part may be less appealing to potential customers. If a proposed alternative is in reality not workable, the case study must recognize lost opportunity costs, limitation of economic viability, and/or loss due to project cancellation or abandonment.
Question 9b - Cost estimates are very design-specific. The costs may be reasonable for the designs chosen but may not be representative of the designs most susceptible to wide variation – those with specific ambiance criteria.
Question 9c - Cost estimates for incorporation of accessibility features (indeed for any vessel construction) often vary because of a shipyard’s geography or workload. A shipyard with a slim order backlog may be much more cost-effective than one with a full order book. The industry tends to cycle in unison so there may be no yard with a slim order backlog.
Question 9d - Case studies are improved by not limiting the number to any preconceived number. As experience is gained in carrying out the first of the case studies, there should be an ongoing assessment of the remaining nominees as to their ability to cover remaining unknowns. With the addition all ferries within the scope of the draft guidelines, the Access Board has introduced many, many designs that cover all the unknowns or the imponderables uncovered by the advisory committee. Two case studies are insufficient to cover the variation in the added number of ferries.
Question 9e - Small ferries range in size from flat, small barge-like vessels to spacious enclosed catamarans. The can be self-propelled, pushed by towboat, or cable driven. Small ferries can have enclosed passenger spaces or no enclosed spaces. Enclosed or open passenger spaces can be on a car deck level or over a car deck. Small ferries can have a run of a few minutes or an hour.
Question 9f - PVA is not privy to information about passenger vessels in the early planning stages and is not aware of all builders and/or their current order book.
Question 9g - The passenger vessel industry is comprised of single-vessel operators and those with fleets in the dozens, entrepreneurs and public government operations, year-round and seasonal operators, established markets and trailblazers, vessel-only or conglomerate business structures, long-term and start-up operators, fare box only and subsidized operators, etc. PVA can make no generalization about the acceptability of cost differentials. PVA’s members do not share their financial or economic data with the association.
Also, the Access Board must keep in mind that passenger vessel operators must contend with a variety of new governmental requirements that impose substantial costs. All passenger vessels with a capacity of more than 150 passengers must develop and operate in conformance with vessel and facility security plans as a result of new mandates in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. Many operators have incurred capital costs in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars, plus substantial extra operating costs. The Coast Guard is on the verge of a rulemaking telling most operators to install and use Automatic Identification Systems, estimated to cost at least $5,000 per vessel. Congress has directed the Coast Guard to require operators to install sophisticated (and expensive) electronic charts in the bridge. A Coast Guard study is examining whether larger ferries should have Voyage Data Recorders, a system that can easily cost in excess of a quarter of a million dollars.
All too often, a governmental entity says that the cost of a proposed requirement will be “only” a certain percentage and concludes that it can be absorbed by the vessel operator. This “look in isolation” ignores the cumulative effect of all concurrent governmental mandates, much less other financial pressures (for example, escalating fuel costs) that must be contended with.
PVA can confidently assert one statement. The extra capital costs of incorporating accessibility features, whether they might be 2, 5, 10, or 20 percent of the construction costs, will not result in added revenue-capacity for the vessels. In fact, they will in all likelihood reduce revenue-generating capacity. By making this statement, PVA is not arguing that its members should be relieved of their legal responsibilities to customers with disabilities. However, the Access Board must understand the financial constraints that passenger vessel operators endure and try to devise guidelines that promote accessibility effectively but at the lowest cost possible.
Question 9h - See answer to f.
Question 9i - See answer to f.
Question 9j - The Access Board should ensure that the case studies are inclusive enough that when operators are requested to comment on a notice of proposed rulemaking that they can identify with one or more of the case studies.
The following comments address specific parts of the draft guidelines.
V106.5 Defined Terms
The Access Board should be aware that in mid-2006 Congress enacted a new statutory definition of the term “ferry.” It is found in Title 46, U.S. Code, Section 2101 (10b). That provision states that “’ferry’ means means a vessel that is used on a regular schedule-- (A) to provide transportation only between places that are not more than 300 miles apart; and (B) to transport only-- (i) passengers; or (ii) vehicles, or railroad cars, that are being used, or have been used, in transporting passengers or goods.” This statutory definition is less specific than the definition currently contained in the proposed guidelines. If the statutory definition is followed, and the Access Board retains the concept of the guidelines applying to all ferries, the result could cause an even greater number of small vessels to come under the “large” vessel guidelines.
The Access Board’s explanatory narrative states, “Although the charging statement at the beginning of V201.1 applies the draft to all areas of a passenger vessels, various provisions in the draft limit the application. For example, section V203.2 exempts areas used exclusively by employees. Therefore, only passenger areas are subject to this draft.” PVA urges the Access Board to modify the language of V201.1 to acknowledge that subsequent provisions embody various exemptions. A casual reader of the current language of V201.1 could come away with the erroneous impression that all areas of a passenger vessel without exception are covered by the scope of the guidelines.
.V201.1.2 – Ferries
PVA opposes applying the guidelines for “large” passenger vessels to ferries of all sizes and capacities. We urge the Access Board to return to its approach contained in the first draft of the proposed guidelines. The “large” passenger vessel guidelines should apply only to passenger vessels with a capacity of more than 150 passengers (or vessels with overnight accommodations for more than 49 passengers).
The Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee focused on vessel size (as expressed by means of passenger capacity) and chose the 150-passenger delineation point because of its conclusion that the task of designing accessibility features into a vessel becomes exponentially more difficult as vessel size decreases. This is an acknowledgement of physical reality. It makes no difference whether a vessel operates as a ferry, a dinner cruise boat, or a sightseeing vessel -- it is the size, not the function, of the vessel that makes it harder or easier to design accessibility features.
A set of accessibility guidelines for “large” vessels should apply to vessels that are large in fact. In this respect, the most recent version of the draft guidelines is a dramatic and unjustified departure from the initial version. PVA urges the Access Board to reconsider its proposal and return to the approach advocated by the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee and the Access Board’s first version of the draft guidelines.
Ferries carrying 150 or fewer passengers vary tremendously in size, propulsion, and operating environments. They may not be compatible with the assumptions, decisions, and tradeoffs made thus far in developing the “large” vessel guidelines to date. Commenters may have reacted differently to specific proposed guidelines had they thought that they would be applicable to smaller ferries.
A small vehicular ferry may carry as few as three vehicles on a voyage of 1,000 feet with duration of four minutes. Landings for small ferries are typically simple and may have steep slopes, narrow ramps, and minimal infrastructure.
The Access Board should recall that there is tremendous value to the concept of gaining experience with the application of guidelines for “large” vessels that will then be employed in making intelligent choices in the harder job of developing draft guidelines for “small” passenger vessels. To apply the “large” vessel guidelines to ferry vessels of all size will eliminate the ability to gain this experience and will result in less appropriate guidelines for “small” vessels.
The Access Board has proposed to add tenders carrying 60 or more passengers to these large vessel guidelines. This is an acknowledgement that there is some reasonable limitation to incorporating large vessel accessibility features in the smaller tenders. No such consideration was given to ferries.
Also, with respect to the proposed exception for a water taxi, PVA points out that this term is not defined. If the application of the draft guidelines to all ferries is retained (against PVA’s recommendation), then the Access Board should provide an exemption for and define the term “water taxi.” Water taxis are not designed for nor normally considered mass transit. They do not ordinarily substitute for mass transit in the overall modal structure.
V201.4 Passenger Amenities
As noted in the Access Board’s narrative statement, certain vessels are not required to have vertical access between decks by an exception in V206.2.1. Nonetheless, the application of V201.4 ensures that a passenger with a disability will have access to at least one of each type of element, space, and facility because it will be found on an accessible entry deck or on another deck connected to the entry deck by an accessible route. Thus, the proposed V201.4 fully ensures the Access Board’s goal of promoting accessibility. PVA still has concern that this provision may have the effect of “trumping” the vertical access exceptions of V206.2.1. Please refer to PVA’s comments of July 28, 2005. Clarification on this point would be appreciated.
It is important for the Access Board to retain the concept of applicability of the draft guidelines to existing vessels only in the case of alterations. It is not realistic from a construction, design, or cost viewpoint to expect an existing vessel to comply fully with the construction guidelines that will apply to new vessels.
Even with respect to alterations, there will be instances in which the guidelines should not apply. Thus, the various exceptions are very important and should be retained. In particular, the concept of technical infeasibility is essential. PVA appreciates the Access Board’s positive response to its previous comment that a vessel designer’s choice to exceed regulatory minimums for structural integrity or fire resistance should not be compromised.
Exception 3(a) may need to be revised to cover any increase in tonnage (not simply from subchapter K to subchapter H). There should be an exception whenever an alteration results in an increase of tonnage changing the Coast Guard regulatory classification of subchapter C, T, K or H.
V202.4 Alterations Affecting Primary Function Areas
PVA believes that this provision should explicitly incorporate or reference Exceptions 2 and 3 of V202.3. For instance, in the case of a primary function area, it may be appropriate and feasible to require further alterations to the path of travel but it may be technically infeasible to alter the nearby rest room. PVA suggests that the provision be rewritten as “… shall be made so as to ensure that, to the maximum extent feasible and subject to Exceptions 2 and 3 of V202.3 …”
V203.2 Employee Areas
PVA supports the explicit statement of this exception.
V206.2.1 Multi Deck Passenger Vessels
PVA recommends that Exception 1 be revised. It is not necessary to have vertical access on a two-deck vessel simply because both decks are entry decks. This represents a departure from the general exception that vertical access between decks on a two-deck vessel is not required. What is sought to be accomplished by limiting the exception? So long as a passenger on a two-deck vessel can embark and disembark from the same entry deck, there is no need to provide an accessible route to the other entry deck.
The vertical access exceptions for a passenger vessel with fewer than three decks or with decks of less than 3000 square feet per deck are equivalent to vertical access exceptions for landside structures.
V206.4 Entry and Departure Points
PVA renews its prior comment that the recommendations of the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee be followed with respect to this issue. There should be at least one entry and departure point used by passengers on an accessible route. However, the draft guidelines go beyond this recommendation and create unnecessary redundancy. As long as every passenger will have an accessible route to an entry and departure point at every port of call, the goal of accessibility is fully satisfied.
PVA supports Exception 2 to permit a vessel of less than 10,000 ITC tonnage to use a LULA elevator (V408). This acknowledges the space and weight challenges posed by a standard elevator on a vessel of relatively lower tonnage. However, the Access Board must take into account that many existing U.S.-flagged passenger vessels have not been assigned an ITC tonnage measurement; these vessels have been admeasured under a domestic system known as gross registered tons. The guidelines need to acknowledge this with respect to alterations of existing vessels.
V 206.7 Platform Lift
Does the stated exception have the effect of saying that a platform lift is permitted in lieu of an elevator in the case of alterations?
V207 Accessible Means of Escape
PVA agrees with the exception to V207.1 General that an accessible means of escape is not required with respect to an alteration. Furthermore, PVA supports Exception 2 to V207.2 which states that an accessible means of escape is not required when the Coast Guard allows the path of escape to include a ladder, window or deck scuttle.
V208 Passenger Vessel Boarding
As currently proposed, the draft guidelines provide for the option of an accessible boarding system provided by either the vessel or the landside facility. Retaining this flexibility is important. As a vessel may call at numerous landside facilities, many of which are outside of the control of the vessel operator, it is not realistic to expect the vessel to carry a boarding system that will adjust to every contingency.
V213 Toilet Facilities and Bathing Facilities
Is it the Access Board’s intention that the designer of a new passenger vessel can comply with V213 by employing one or more unisex toilet rooms that comply with V213.2.1? The vessel designer and owner should have this option, should they desire to do so, rather than being required to install single-sex toilet rooms for men and women. As stated in Advisory 213.2, a unisex toilet room benefits people who use opposite sex personal care assistants. This is the case for a new vessel just as much as for an altered vessel.
It is important to retain the concept of technical infeasibility for an alteration to the toilet room of an existing passenger vessel.
V221.2 Wheelchair Spaces
As the Access Board has stated in its narrative comments, guidelines for most transportation conveyances have no requirements for companion seating and the number of required wheelchair spaces is generally set at two. It is appropriate to apply the same approach to ferries, which are transportation conveyances on water. Table V22.214.171.124 is not appropriate for ferries. PVA is willing to consult with the Access Board as to the proper number of wheelchair spaces on ferries of various sizes. Of course, PVA continues to urge the Access Board to apply this particular set of guidelines only to ferries that carry more than 150 passengers.
V224.2 Guest Rooms with Mobility Features
Most U.S.-flagged passenger vessels are “small-ship” cruise vessels. With the exception of three large oceangoing vessels operating in Hawaii, the U.S. fleet typically provides accommodations for 225 passengers or fewer. PVA knows of but six such “small-ship” cruise vessels that have been constructed for the U.S. fleet in the past decade.
Over the years, the Access Board has been provided information showing that an accessible cabin generally requires a larger “footprint” than a non-accessible cabin. The result is that as more accessible cabins are required, total number of cabins on the vessel is reduced. If the total number of cabins is reduced, the revenue-producing capacity of the vessel is reduced. If a vessel is smaller to begin with (and has fewer cabins), the financial consequences of reducing revenue-earning capacity is intensified.
Table V224.2 imposes a general requirement of 3 percent or fewer for determining the number of guest rooms with mobility features on larger passenger vessels. In contrast, the percentage requirement for “small-ship” cruise vessels is as high as 5 percent. The result will be to unfairly burden operators of “small-ship” cruise vessels.
In addition, with three exceptions, large oceangoing cruise ships are all registered in foreign countries. The U.S.-fleet consists primarily of “small-ship” cruise ships. The result of the proposed requirement is that a more intensive regulatory burden will be imposed on U.S.-flagged “small-ship” cruise vessels. This is in addition to other regulatory costs that impose higher costs on U.S. vessels, including higher wages for the required U.S.-citizen crews and higher construction costs for building vessels in required U.S. shipyards.
Furthermore, the Access Board has offered no evidence of demand for a higher percentage of accessible cabins on “small-ship” cruise vessels than on larger foreign cruise vessels.
PVA strongly urges the Access Board to require no more than 3 percent of total rooms to incorporate mobility features on any cruise vessels, regardless of its size. To do otherwise is to throw yet another regulatory obstacle into the possibility of future construction and operation of U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built “small-ship” cruise vessels.
V307.4 Vertical Clearance
The rationale used to dismiss the conflicts noted by respondents to differences between access guidelines and Coast Guard regulations is flawed. The illustration that the Coast Guard requires a minimum ceiling height of 74 inches and the guidelines’ minimum height of 80 inches does not conflict misses the point that one of the vessel design goals is to keep vessel weights as low as possible while still meeting the intended use of the vessel. The additional 6 inches required by the guidelines adds to the minimum height of passenger deck structures. This exacerbates the weight management problem for the designer and operator in that the higher ceilings can raise the height of passenger decks as well as the accompanying deck loadings.
Most vessels do provide a ceiling height of 80 inches; however, unique limited operating conditions such as low air drafts may dictate a lower superstructure and hence a lowered ceiling. The allowed 74 inch height may be general or limited to some areas of the vessel.
PVA is consulting with the Coast Guard to evaluate the Access Board’s proposal on how to deal with the coamings problem. PVA has also been working with the Volpe Center to devise regulatory alternatives to coamings. However, in no way can safety of a passenger vessel be compromised. If the Coast Guard, as the U.S. administrative authority, concludes that coamings are necessary in certain doorways, the Access Board must defer to that agency’s expertise.
The Access Board continues to depart from the recommendations of its own Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee. The less flexibility allowed by a strict adherence to the 1:12 standard, the greater will be intrusion of the ramp into otherwise clear deck space. This is a situation where the Access Board should acknowledge space limitations inherent in a vessel and allow for some departure from the landside standard.
The proposal by the Access Board fails to take into account the myriad challenges posed by fluctuating water levels. While conceding that this issue is extremely challenging for the vessel operator and the passenger with a disability alike, the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee offered suggestions to inject more flexibility into gangway slope requirements. The proposal by the Access Board is too rigid and simplistic, even with the exceptions that have been proposed. PVA remains committed to working with the Access Board on a workable solution, but the approach contained in the draft guidelines will not be achievable in many situations.
V806.3 Guest Room Alarms
Requiring guest room alarms to comply with best practice addresses the concerns of the original prescriptive guidance and promotes innovation. The problem for the designer/operator is the lack of a definition for best practice if their choice is challenged. By its very nature, best practice is an evolutionary and moving point. The design of today uses today’s state of the art and knowledge. The challenge may come at a future time when the state of knowledge and hence the best practice has changed. There must be an acknowledgement that a best practice was used, and it was judged as such by the administrative authority. This comment is also applicable to V215.
The Passenger Vessel Association appreciates the opportunity to submit these comments for the Access Board’s consideration. We hope to have further opportunities to analyze and submit reaction to the current draft guidelines and future modifications to them.
Edmund B. Welch
John Groundwater Peter Lauridsen Edmund B. Welch
Executive Director Regulatory Consultant Legislative Director