Month: November 2010

NYC Access-A-Ride Kicks Disabled to the Curb!

Read this first before continuing, which explains the cuts that New York City Transit is instituting to their paratransit service: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/11/12/access-a-ride-cuts-affect-passengers/#comment-79591

According to this article, the Access-A-Ride (AAR) paratransit service cuts affect EVERYONE who uses the service who they have deemed to be “not disabled enough”. I have been using AAR service with no problems for 3 years, until I received a phone call on Wednesday, Nov. 11, on my way home from work. Prior to that date, I was on subscription service, where everyday I was picked up at the same time and location in Manhattan and taken directly to my place of work in Manhattan. Every afternoon, I would be picked up from work at the same time and taken back to where I started from.

As of Monday, Nov. 15, I will no longer have subscription service, AND, because my starting and ending points are within 5 blocks of an “accessible bus route”, I will probably have to begin taking a regular city bus. The problem, of course, is that I CANNOT WALK more than 5 blocks. AAR CLAIMS they looked at each person’s condition to make their determination, but they did not look at our CURRENT conditions to make these changes. Using old data obtained when people first applied for the service, they arbitrarily decided to enforce their “conditional eligibility” rules, without first determining whether our conditions had worsened since first obtaining the service. In addition, they did it with less than a week’s advance notice, and with no written communication. All we received was (1) a message on the AAR phone line, which didn’t indicate specifically who would be affected; and (2) a phone call from an uncaring person who basically said, “Don’t look for your ride on Monday because it won’t be there.”

If they had given us advance notice, I’m sure we would have at least had time to determine if we needed to be reassessed to determine if this change would be detrimental to us, however, they INTENTIONALLY did not inform us so they wouldn’t have to accommodate the many people who they essentially threw out of their system. I rely on the service to get to work, and now I may not be able to get to work because they have basically pulled the rug out from under me.

Here is a link to an AAR site that tries to justify their reasoning behind this change: http://www.mta.info/nyct/paratran/onthemove.htm. All this says to me is that their actions are APPALLING, and if Mayor Bloomberg is behind this so-called money-saving exercise, then I think he should expect a class action lawsuit because this action is against the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), regardless of AAR saying they are following its intent. Section 12143 of the ADA says the following about paratransit service:

“Sec. 12143. Paratransit as a complement to fixed route service

(a) General rule

It shall be considered discrimination for purposes of section 12132 of this title and section 794 of title 29 for a public entity which operates a fixed route system (other than a system which provides solely commuter bus service) to fail to provide with respect to the operations of its fixed route system, in accordance with this section, paratransit and other special transportation services to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs that are sufficient to provide to such individuals a level of service

(1) which is comparable to the level of designated public transportation services provided to individuals without disabilities using such system; or

(2) in the case of response time, which is comparable, to the extent practicable, to the level of designated public transportation services provided to individuals without disabilities using such system.” Source: http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm#12141 (Bolded words are mine).

In New York City, public bus service is NOT comparable to the service provided by AAR. Has anyone ridden a New York City bus lately? I have, and it is HORRENDOUS.  It is unmanageable for anyone with a disability. Then add the compounded problems of walking to the bus, long waits with nowhere to sit, possibly not getting a seat once you are on the bus…this does not compare to paratransit service.

I would like to understand how AAR feels it can essentially eliminate service for disabled people in this way. Do they think they can get away with it? Are there any attorneys out there who would be willing to determine if the city can do what it is doing? Please help us out!!

Expect to see me shuffling along the streets of New York until the city decides to repeal this ridiculous policy. They can run the program less expensively without putting it on the backs of the disabled who use the service!