Office of Technical and Information Services
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Yacht Starship dining cruises, a member of the Passenger Vessel Association, submits these comments regarding your efforts to develop accessibility guidelines for passenger vessels, as published in the Federal Register of November 26, 2004. Please include these comments in the official record of both of your dockets as well as the corresponding U.S. Department of Transportation Docket.
Yacht Starship operates a 600 passenger dining yacht in Tampa, Florida. Our vessel was constructed in 1999 at a cost of 7.4 million dollars. We installed an elevator and enlarged the restrooms for wheelchairs. With the exception of the Coast Guard mandated thresholds we are as close to being ADA compliant as possible. This came at an initial cost of $250,000, which represented 3.4% of the purchase price of the vessel. This doesn't count the space lost to facilitate an elevator or larger restrooms, which took the place of seating that produces revenue for the life of the vessel. On average we carry 80,000 passengers annually. Of the 80,000 passengers we average 1 wheelchair a week (52 a year). This represents .065% of our total passengers annually.
We anticipated carrying more people with disabilities when we constructed the vessel, but in reality with over 5-years of operational experience we don't. The capital cost of 3.4% of the total vessel cost, along with the lost seating puts our compliance with ADA at an unreasonable cost in relation to business accommodated or generated by ADA customers. We loose over $100,000 annually in revenue do to lost seating from the elevator and larger restrooms. Counting capital cost we have spent or lost $750,000 over the 5-year period we have been operating to accommodate 260 wheelchairs ($2884.61 per passenger).
The above are facts about the vessel and don’t count dock cost to accommodate wheelchairs. Fortunately we operate in Tampa with only 4' of tide range and can accommodate wheelchairs reasonably. If we were to move Yacht Starship to another location with substantial tide range we couldn't afford the capital cost to outfit the dock with gangways to meet the standards for such a small percentage of our passengers.
I am aware that the Passenger Vessel Association has been in frequent contact with the Access Board regarding this rulemaking, including testifying at public hearings three times in 2005. I support the following points that PVA has stressed in its comments:
Thank you for this opportunity to participate in your rulemaking process.
President and CEO
Yacht Starship and Tampa Bay Tours
223 South 12th Street
Tampa, Florida 33602