Month: August 2011

Latest on the AAR Front

For those who know me in twittertopia, my dealings with New York City’s Access-A-Ride (AAR) service are legendary. Or at least well known. And it’s been sometime since I’ve blogged about my exploits. Things had settled somewhat, once I decided to have them take me between the Atlantic Avenue LIRR terminal in Brooklyn and my job in Manhattan.

Since my last post, AAR has done a few more things that are….indescribable. Why they make it so difficult for people with disabilities is unfathomable. I can’t even decide which adjectives to use to explain some of the things they’ve done.

AAR usually uses private paratransit bus companies with vehicles that are clearly marked as Access-A-Ride. Sometime either late last year or early this year, AAR contracted with a few limousine companies to provide service for AAR passengers. So, rather than AAR scheduling your trip with the paratransit company, YOU would have to schedule your trip with the limousine company.

Initially this worked out fine, because these companies were usually more reliable than the paratransit companies. However, somewhere along the way, AAR probably overburdened the limousine companies, who could no longer handle the load, and the service severely degraded. When I would call one company for a trip, they would say they were totally booked and couldn’t pick me up. Another company would schedule the trip, but then would be late, in two instances over an hour late, causing me to miss important meetings at work.

I guess they figured out the service wasn’t working after they got the results of a phone poll….I gave them extremely poor marks, and I guess everyone else did, too. They started making changes soon aftwards, but things still aren’t fantastic. On one extremely rainy night, I waited at my job TWO HOURS for a car that never showed. I eventually had to stand out in the rain, trying to catch a cab, which is extremely difficult near my job. Suffice it to say, I no longer use limousine service when it’s offered.

Things settled down for a short time, until about four months ago when AAR implemented their feeder service. That’s what they call it. Feeder service. Which really means: we’ll take you to a bus stop using the paratransit service, THEN, you have to take a bus to wherever you need to go. And by the way, we don’t really care where the bus stop is or how dark and lonely it is and whether you can walk the distance from where the bus lets you off to where you have to go……as long as we don’t use the paratransit service to take you where you need to go. And just so you know, you only have to pay one fare. We’re not monsters, after all.

So this led me to figure out another way to outsmart MTA. Although it wasn’t the best decision, it’s kept me from having to use public tranportation. Since they weren’t offering feeder service in the morning, I could still go to Brooklyn, but in the afternoons, I now go to Jamaica Queens to get the LIRR. Yes, this adds another one or more hours to my commute, but at least I’m not taking the bus.

But how long can she keep this up, you’re probably asking? Same question I asked myself. So, I finally gave in and wrote a long complaint to MTA. Figuring it was more of a rant than anything else, I felt better but didn’t expect any response, or at least I thought I’d get a standard response that wouldn’t go anywhere.

So I was extremely surprised when I received a phone call from Esther Oh of MTA Customer Service. Long story short, she helped me get things straightened out, and I finally had my recertification appointment on August 4th. Within a few weeks I hopefully won’t have anymore problems with AAR. </Hopefully. I’ll let you know how it goes.