This section sets forth a mechanism for determining who bears the legal and financial responsibility for accessibility modifications to a commuter and/or intercity rail station. The final provision of the section is the most important. It authorizes all concerned parties to come to their own agreement concerning the allocation of responsibility. Such an agreement can allocate responsibility in any way acceptable to the parties. The Department strongly encourages parties to come to such an agreement.(b) In the case of a station more than fifty percent of which is owned by a public entity, the public entity is the responsible party.
In the absence of such an agreement, a statutory/regulatory scheme allocates responsibility. In the first, and simplest, situation posed by the statute, a single public entity owns more than 50 percent of the station. In this case, the public entity is the responsible person and nobody else is required to bear any of the responsibility. In the second situation, a private entity owns more than 50 percent of the station. The private entity need not bear any of the responsibility for making the station accessible. A public entity owner of the station, who does not operate passenger railroad service through the station, is not required to bear any of the responsibility for making the station accessible. The total responsibility is divided between passenger railroads operating service through the station, on the basis of respective passenger boardings. If there is only one railroad operating service through the station, it bears the total responsibility.(c) In the case of a station more than fifty percent of which is owned by a private entity the persons providing commuter or intercity rail service to the station are the responsible parties, in a proportion equal to the percentage of all passenger boardings at the station attributable to the service of each, over the entire period during which the station is made accessible.
The Department believes that reference to passenger boardings is the most equitable way of dividing responsibility among railroads, since the number of people drawn to the station by each is likely to reflect "cost causation" quite closely. The Department notes, however, that, as passenger boarding percentages change over time, the portion of responsibility assigned to each party also may change. Station modifications may involve long-term capital investment and planning, while passenger boarding percentages are more volatile. Some railroads may stop serving a station, while others may begin service, during the period of time before modifications to the station are complete. To help accommodate such situations, the rule refers to passenger boardings "over the entire period during which the station is made accessible."(d) In the case of a station of which no entity owns more than fifty percent, the owners of the station (other than private entity owners) and persons providing intercity or commuter rail service to the station are the responsible persons.
This language is intended to emphasize that as circumstances change, the parties involved have the responsibility to adjust their arrangements for cost sharing. For example, suppose Railroad A has 30 percent of the passenger boardings in year 1, but by year 10 has 60 percent of the boardings. It would not be fair for Railroad A to pay only 30 percent of the costs of station modifications occurring in later years. Ultimately, the total cost burden for modifying the station over (for example) 20 years would be allocated on the share of the total number of boardings attributable to each railroad over the whole 20 year period, in order to avoid such unfairness.
The third, and most complicated, situation is one in which no party owns 50 percent of the station. For example, consider the following hypothetical situation:(e) Persons who must share responsibility for station accessibility under paragraph (c) and (d) of this section may, by agreement, allocate their responsibility in a manner different from that provided in this section.
The private freight railroad drops out of the calculation of who is responsible. All of the responsibility would be allocated among four public entities: the city (a public entity who does not operate railroad service), Amtrak, and the two commuter railroads. Half the responsibility would go to public entity owners of the station (whether or not they are railroads who run passenger service through the station). The other half of the responsibility would go to railroads who run passenger service through the station (whether or not they are station owners).
Private freight RR
On the ownership side of the equation, the city and Commuter A each own half of that portion of the station that is not owned by the private freight railroad. Therefore, the two parties divide up the ownership half of the responsibility equally. Based on their ownership interest, each of these two parties bears 25 percent of the responsibility for the entire station. Note that, should ownership percentages or owners change over the period during which the station is to be made accessible, these percentages may change. It is ownership percentage over this entire period that ultimately determines the percentage of responsibility.
On the passenger rail operations side of the equation, 50 percent of passenger boardings are attributable to Commuter A and 25 percent each to Commuter B and Amtrak. Therefore, half of this portion of the responsibility belongs to Commuter A, while a quarter share each goes to the other railroads. This means that, based on passenger boardings, 25 percent of the responsibility goes to Commuter A, 12.5 percent to Commuter B, and 12.5 percent to Amtrak. Again, it is the proportion of passenger boardings over the entire length of the period during which the station is made accessible that ultimately determines the percentage of responsibility.
In this hypothetical, Commuter A is responsible for a total of 50 percent of the responsibility for the station. Commuter A is responsible for 25 percent of the responsibility because of its role as a station owner and another 25 percent because of its operation of passenger rail service through the station.
The Department recognizes that there will be situations in which application of this scheme will be difficult (e.g., involving problems with multiple owners of a station whose ownership percentages may be difficult to ascertain). The Department again emphasizes that agreement among the parties is the best way of resolving these problems, but we are willing to work with the parties to ensure a solution consistent with this rule.