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!

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11 thoughts on “NYC Access-A-Ride Kicks Disabled to the Curb!

  1. Appalling. Simply appalling! How dare the MTA deny you the much needed Access-A-Ride!! It doesn’t make sense! Of all the services to cut…

    I hope that this gets fixed and you’ll be able to have AAR again.

  2. So what are you going to do? It must be so nice to be able to move about and work like that. Then to have it stripped away! Like, I said so what are you going to do? Nicole

    1. I apologize! I just saw this comment. Actually, I figured out a way to outsmart the MTA. I started taking the train to a different location where they will pick me up. It’s better than taking the bus, although it has it’s challenges. I intend to add a few more posts about that experience.

    1. I’ve heard that it costs around $45 per person per ride, but not sure what their other costs are. Nowadays they’re using “black car service”, regular taxi service that only costs the city about $25 per person per ride. They seem to be more reliable but they’re not trained to deal with the disabled.

      1. Hi David. I don’t check my blog as often as I should, something I hope to change in the new year.

        I believe you’re correct regarding the operating costs for AAR. It’s cheaper for them to use the limo service than the regular AAR companies. That’s what I’ve been using for some time now. On the good side, as you said, they’re more reliable, they will wait for you longer than the regular service, and they will almost always call you before or when they reach your pick-up location. And now that they take the AAR coupons, I don’t have to pay cash when I’ve already purchased the coupons.

        What is the primary drawback for me, in addition to what you said about not knowing how to deal with the disabled, is the size of the vehicles, and sometimes the number of passengers they’ll pick up at one time. Toyota Corollas are so hard to get into! I have long legs that don’t work well, so it can be a struggle getting in and out of the cars. Worse is if they try to fit too many people into one car. Not sure who setup those trips, but a head examination is in order!

        Overall, they have gotten better, at least for me. I don’t the issue of left behind anymore. That was always a big problem.

  3. fantastic post, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of this sector don’t realize this.
    You must continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

    1. Hello. Apologies for not replying sooner. Thanks for your kind words. I will try to keep people updated on this topic, although I haven’t been using the service much lately. But I have plenty of other things to write about that I will be adding in the future. Thanks again.

    2. Hi, thanks for your reply and feedback. I wish I had more time to write, but I work full time so it leaves little time. I’ll try to write when I can. I’ve got lots to say! 🙂

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